The National Art Library, situated in the V&A, might just be the best place on earth. It has everything a library should have - dark wood, endless shelves of distractedly interesting books, busts of distinguished looking gents, floods of natural light, and ever-patient, helpful staff. The fact it is in a building full of incredible objects and a cafe with amazing scones doesn't hurt either!
I could have spent the full six weeks I had in London at the National Art Library. If only all the stuff I wanted to look at could have floated into their collection!
I am no expert on the Library's collection. It is a vast art library and the books I was interested in were just a tiny tiny part of its holdings. I was looking at what might be considered '19thC art textbooks'. These are copy-books, full of figures (shapes and simple objects) for children to copy and practice their drawing. The NAL has heaps of them, including a bunch aimed at the accomplished gentleman of the late 18thC. I am still working my way through the bazillions of photos I took (I like to photograph everything, just to be sure it will be there if I need to refer back to it. Luckily, the NAL allows you to take photos for private use. Some other libraries don't). If you'd like to hear more about these books, let me know and I will devote a post to them. Otherwise, just enjoy the pretty pictures!