The Burlington Magazine

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The Burlington Magazine
The Burlington Magazine 1903.png
Edited byMichael Hall
Publication details
The Burlington Magazine Publications
Standard abbreviations
ISO 4Burlingt. Mag.

The Burlington Magazine is a monthly publication that covers the fine and decorative arts of all periods. Established in 1903, it is the longest running art journal in the English language.[1] It has been published by a charitable organisation since 1986.[citation needed]


The magazine was established in 1903 by a group of art historians and connoisseurs which included Roger Fry, Herbert Horne, Bernard Berenson, and Charles Holmes. Its most esteemed editors [2] have been Roger Fry (1909–1919), Herbert Read (1933–1939), and Benedict Nicolson (1948–1978). The journal's structure was loosely based on its contemporary British publication The Connoisseur, which was mainly aimed at collectors and had firm connections with the art trade. The Burlington Magazine, however, added to this late Victorian tradition of market-based criticism new elements of historical research inspired by the leading academic German periodicals and thus created a formula that has remained almost intact to date: a combination of archival and formalist object-based art historical research juxtaposed to articles on collectors’ items and private collections, enlivened with notes on current art news, exhibitions and sales.[3] The lavishness of this publication almost immediately created financial troubles and in January 1905[4] Fry embarked on an American tour to find sponsorship to assure the survival of the journal,[5] which he had quickly recognized as a magazine for the developing study of art history.[6]


From its first editorial, The Burlington Magazine presented itself as synthesising opposing traditions – historicist versus aestheticism and academic versus commercial – by defining itself an exponent of "Austere Epicureanism".[7] Against the perceived "sameness" of the contemporary art panorama, The Burlington Magazine was to act as a disinterested guide, directing the public's attention to high-quality art on offer both on the market and on institutional settings and educating its readers on the elevating qualities of ancient art.[8] The Burlington Magazine editors and contributors were part of the institutional sphere of museums and academia and yet, unlike their German counterparts, they participated in the emerging world of the commercial galleries.[9] The magazine remained independent from any institution and yet it was instrumental in the establishment of academic art history in Britain: its dialectical dynamic between market and institution contributed to the creation of an original and multifaceted publication.[10]

The Burlington Magazine was founded as a journal of ancient art but already in its first decade, especially under the editorship of Fry articles on modern art became prominent. Topics covered in detail were: Paul Cézanne and Post-Impressionism in a debate between Fry and D. S. MacColl,[11] a debate on a bust of Flora ascribed to Leonardo da Vinci and later discovered to be a forgery, and the role of archival research in the art historical reconstruction, with contributions by Herbert Horne and Constance Jocelyn Ffoulkes.

The Burlington Magazine, especially in its first decades, was also preoccupied with the definition and development of formal analysis and connoisseurship in the visual arts and consistently observed, reviewed and contributed to the body of attributions to various artists, notably Rembrandt, Poussin, and Caravaggio.[12] The journal had also many notable contributions by visual artists on other artists, notably Walter Sickert on Edgar Degas.[13]


The journal is published monthly, and features a cross-section of writers.

The first issues of The Burlington Magazine were printed on high-quality paper, had a typeface designed by Herbert Horne[14] and were richly illustrated with black and white photographs, many by the arts and crafts photographer Emery Walker.[citation needed]


  • Robert Dell: March–December 1903
  • Charles Holmes and Robert Dell: January 1904–October 1906
  • Charles Holmes: October 1906– September 1909
  • Harold Child Assistant Editor with the advice of a Consultative Committee: October and November 1909
  • Roger Fry and Lionel Cust: December 1909–December 1913
  • Roger Fry, Lionel Cust, and More Adey: January 1914–May 1919
  • John Hope-Johnstone: July 1919–December 1920
  • Robert R. Tatlock: Early 1921–1933
  • Herbert Read: 1933–1939
  • Albert C. Sewter: 1939–40
  • Tancred Borenius: 1940–1944
  • Edith Hoffmann (Assistant Editor who ran the Magazine with advice from Read): 1944–45
  • Ellis Waterhouse acting editor (the magazine was officially without an editor): 1945–1947
  • Benedict Nicolson: 1947–July 1978
  • Editorial Board of Directors: August–October 1978
  • Terence Hodgkinson: November 1978–August 1981
  • Neil MacGregor: September 1981–February 1987
  • Caroline Elam: March 1987–July 2002
  • Andrew Hopkins: August 2002–December 2002
  • Richard Shone and Bart Cornelis (joint editors): January 2003–March 2003
  • Richard Shone: March 2003–September 2015
  • Frances Spalding: September 2015–August 2016[15]
  • Jane Martineau: acting editor August 2016 to May 2017[16]
  • Michael Hall: May 2017 to present[17][18]


  1. ^ T. Fawcett, 'Scholarly Journals', in: The Art Press – Two Centuries of Art Magazines, London, 1976, pp. 3–10, ISBN 0-905309-00-6
  2. ^ H. Rees Leahy. 'For Connoisseurs: The Burlington Magazine', in: Art History and its institutions, London and New York, 2002, pp. 231–245
  3. ^ A. Burton, 'Nineteenth Century Periodicals', in: The Art Press – Two Centuries of Art Magazines, London, 1976, pp. 3–10, ISBN 0-905309-00-6
  4. ^ Sutton, Denys, Select Chronology--'Letters of Roger Fry ' ,Chatto and Windus, London, 1972 ISBN 0701115998
  5. ^ C. J. Holmes, Self and partners (Mostly self), London, 1936, pp. 213–34, ISBN 1-4067-6927-4
  6. ^ Sutton, Denys Introduction-'Letters of Roger Fry', Chatto and Windus,London, 1972 ISBN 0701115998
  7. ^ Anonymous, ‘Editorial Article’, The Burlington Magazine, 1 (March 1903), pp. 5–7
  8. ^ A. Helmreich, ‘The Death of the Victorian Art Periodical’, Visual Resources, 26, no. 3, (September 2010), pp. 242–253
  9. ^ T. Fawcett, 'Scholarly Journals', in: The Art Press – Two Centuries of Art Magazines, London, 1976, pp. 3–10, ISBN 0-905309-00-6
  10. ^ B. Pezzini, 'An open resource for scholars and a primary source for research: the Burlington Magazine online index', Art Libraries Journal,36, no. 3, (June 2011), pp.46–51
  11. ^ R. Shiff: Cézanne and the End of Impressionism, Chicago, 1984, pp. 143–152
  12. ^ B. Nicolson, 'The Burlington Magazine', Connoisseur, 191 (March 1976), pp. 180–183
  13. ^ W. Sickert, 'Degas', The Burlington Magazine, 31 (November 1917), pp. 193–191
  14. ^ "Fifty Years of The Burlington Magazine". The Burlington Magazine. Burlington Magazine Publications Ltd. 95 (600): 63–65. March 1953. JSTOR 871015.
  15. ^ Editors of The Burlington Magazine 1903–Present
  16. ^ "The Burlington Magazine".
  17. ^ "The Burlington Magazine".
  18. ^ "Michael Hall appointed Editor of The Burlington Magazine" (PDF). 1 December 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2017.

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