The Burlington Magazine as tool for the study of the art market

BLOG10In the Burlington Magazine (especially in the first 50 years of its existence) there is a wealth of material to aid the study of the art market. Not only, as expected, the Old Masters paintings market, but also the trade for contemporary art, especially British.

This blog post wants to show how our current digital project – the online Index – can be used within the study of this subject, and how it can help its research.

Within the content of the Burlington Magazine one can find:


  • Listings of commercial exhibitions, from 1903 until the present – often with commentary.
  • Write-up of art sales
  • Articles that illustrate works held by dealers, such as the series ‘Notable works now on the market’ (1925 -1979).


But what is perhaps even more interesting is the direct editorial and authorial engagement with the art market (as in some 1903-1910 samples below).

All these articles can be found in the Index through simple keyword searches, such as ‘exhibitions’ and  ‘art market’.

One of the problems encountered in the study of the art market is a lack of primary sources – less so for the study of major dealers and auction houses – but for smaller galleries and antique dealers this absence creates a significant hurdle to research, as many have closed and their archives lost.

The advertisements placed by art dealers in The Burlington Magazine offer an untapped resource for this study, a resource which we are now in the process of cataloguing, digitising and studying in the Index project.

These adverts, of which we give some samples of the period 19015-1985 below:

  • Supplement directories to reveal the locations of galleries and are an essential tool for mapping the expansion of the commercial art world during the twentieth century.




  • Include photographs providing visual evidence of stock held by dealers and gallery interiors.

  • Provide important evidence of untraced works of art and their whereabouts at a given moment.


  • Reveal galleries’ changing branding styles and commercial strategies.

The study of the art market is, at the moment, in great expansion and we hope that this easily and freely accessible resource will facilitate it.

BP, November 2014


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