The creation of an accessible art library was one of the founding aims of the Academy but it was in the early 1850s, with the appointment of a Librarian and Curators from the artist membership, that a national art library began to really take shape.
The library collection contains books dating from the 1530s to the present day and includes photographic albums, early texts on anatomy, books illustrated by artists and publications on Scottish art and artists. Purchases and gifts from artists and supporters of the Academy led to some spectacular volumes entering the library collections; from early treatises on printmaking, colour and anatomy, to illustrated surveys, rare folios and significant monographs.
Early highlights include Andreas Vesalius’ De Humani Corporis Fabrica. Libri Septem (Basle, 1543), Ludovico Guicciardini’s Omnium Belgii sive Inferioris Germaniae… (Arnhem 1616), John Slezer’s, Theatrum Scotiæ (London 1693), John Baptist Jackson’s Titian Vecelli Pauli Caliarii Jacobi Robusti et Jacobi de Ponte (Venice: 1745), William Blake’s, Illustrations to the Book of Job (London 1826) and Kenneth Macleay’s Highlanders of Scotland (London, 1870). Recent artist books like Frances Walker’s Crossing to Finlaggan (2003) and Eddie Summerton and Graham Fagen’s Diary of an Egg Collector (2010) give contemporary flavour to a rich and varied collection.