« I would go so far as to say that my dear mother has seen nothing in Sweden if she has not seen Leufstad”. Letter written by the future King Gustav III to his mother Queen Lovisa Ulrika in 1768.
In 1738, in a little building close to his manor in Lövstabruk, estate that was at that time one of the world´s leading ironworks, Charles de Geer (1720-1778), then renowned as one of the foremost scientists in Sweden, created his library. There is nothing pompous or grandiose in this book haven, just a cozy and intimate, almost bewitching atmosphere where the time seems to have stood still.
Approximately 8500 books were acquired in 1986 by Uppsala University Library. Although the more valuable volumes are now kept in Uppsala, the layout of the book room has been preserved as it was in the XVIII century, when its industrialist / entomologist founder was relaxing and studying there.
Charles, who was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1739, at the age of nineteen, and a corresponding member of the French Academy of Sciences in 1748, owned an impressive collection of manuscripts and books on natural history. To cite only one example, he acquired the tremendous hand-drawn and hand-coloured illustrated work The Book of Flowers which consists of eleven massive volumes made by the scientist Olof Rudbeck the Elder (1630-1702) who had intended to depict (a wonderful but unrealized ambition) all the herbs of the entire world.
But Charles was also, judging from his library, quite the connoisseur of the Enlightenment. He subscribed to Diderot’s and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie and was reading influential works by Montesquieu,Voltaire and Rousseau among others. Moreover he was himself, like is wife Catharina Charlotta, a participant in the movement. The couple were among the first to inoculate in 1756 their children against the menacing smallpox virus. A pioneering initiative at a time when the technique was still highly controversial and faced a great deal of resistance in the kingdom.
The untouched character of the library invites you to daydream but soon the splendid Indes Galantes by Jean-Philippe Rameau awakens you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKvd4tMkFHc
Indeed, this lovely building also hosted the musical collections of the family. Charles de Geer was very passionate about music. Despite being born in the Swedish kingdom into a Huguenot family who had moved there in the 1620’s, he spent his childhood and early youth in the Netherlands. When he returned to Sweden to manage the industrial community of Lövstabruk, he brought with him a large amount of sheet music, for the most part printed in Amsterdam. Once established in his new mansion, he continued to collect music together with his son.
The collection, which is preserved by the Cultural Heritage Group, contains 84 prints and 99 handwritten pieces including some from the most famous composers of the period, such as Handel, Vivaldi or Telemann and others from less well known, more of less forgotten composers such as Jean-Baptiste Senaillé, a virtuoso violinist. Some are also anonymous.
Vivaldi RV 362, another musical treasure of Leufsta: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9isH30R-sM0
The Leusta’s musical treasure contains some rarities and several unique printed scores. It is also reflects the taste of the day and mirors the musical life of the manor where elegance and charm were embodied by keyboard and chamber music pieces in the galant style. If you decide to visit Lövstabruk, you will also discover a well-preserved organ constructed in 1726.
You can buy recordings of music from the Leufsta collection at the shop of Carolina Rediviva.
Louis Renard’s book of fantastic fish from the Leufsta collection: http://www.ub.uu.se/en/Collections/Early-imprints/Special-collections/Leufsta-Library/Louis-Renards-book-of-fantastic-fish/
If you want to learn more about caterpillars, butterflies and insects of all descriptions you could browse Charles de Geer’s work. Proficiency in French is required: http://books.google.se/books?id=dYFIAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Memoires+pour+servir+a+l%27histoire+des+insectes&hl=fr&sa=X&ei=U0KKUeb3BonPhAfB34FQ&ved=0CEQQ6AEwAw