About the Burlington Magazine

The Burlington Magazine was established in 1903 by a group of art historians, artists and connoisseurs which included Roger Fry, Herbert Horne, Bernard Berenson and Charles Holmes. Its most esteemed historical editors have been Fry (1909–19), Herbert Read (1933–39), and Benedict Nicolson (1948–1978).[1] The journal’s structure was loosely based on its contemporary British publication The Connoisseur, which was mainly aimed at collectors and had open 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 and Italian 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. [2]  The lavishness of this publication almost immediately created financial troubles and Fry embarked on an American tour to find sponsorship to assure the survival of the journal. [3]

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”. [4] 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. 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. [5] 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 diverse publication.

The Burlington Magazine was founded as a journal dedicated to the art of the past, 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 discussion between Fry and D. S. MacColl [6], 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. [7] The journal had also many notable contributions by visual artists on other artists, notably Walter Sickert on Edgar Degas. [8]

The first issues of The Burlington Magazine were printed on expensive high-quality paper, had an elegant typeface designed by Herbert Horne and were richly illustrated with black and white photographs – many by the arts and crafts artist Emery Walker.

BP, November 2013
[Author of The Burlington Magazine Wikipedia page]


  • 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
  • Charles Hope-Johnstone: July 1919 – December 1920
  • Robert Tatlock: Early 1921–1933
  • Herbert Read: 1933–39
  • Albert Sewter: 1939–40
  • Tancred Borenius: 1940–44
  • 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): 1945–47
  • 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 – February 2003
  • Richard Shone: March 2003 – present


  1. T. Fawcett, ‘Scholarly Journals’, in: The Art Press – Two Centuries of Art Magazines, London, 1976, pp. 3-10.
  2. C. Elam, ”A More and More Important Work’: Roger Fry and The Burlington Magazine’, The Burlington Magazine, 145 (March 2003), pp. 142-152. H. Rees Leahy, ‘For Connoisseurs: The Burlington Magazine’, in: Art History and its institutions, London and New York, 2002, pp. 231-245.
  3. C. J. Holmes, Self and partners (Mostly self), London, 1936, pp. 213-34.
  4. Anonymous [Robert Dell?], ‘Editorial Article’, The Burlington Magazine, 1 (March 1903), pp. 5-7.
  5. B. Pezzini, ‘The Burlington Magazine, The Burlington Gazette and The Connoisseur: The Art Periodical and the Market for Old Masters Paintings in Edwardian London’, Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation, 29:3, 2013, pp. 154-183.
  6. R. Shiff: Cézanne and the End of Impressionism, Chicago, 1984, pp. 143-152
  7. B. Nicolson, ‘The Burlington Magazine’, Connoisseur, 191 (March 1976), pp. 180-183
  8. W. Sickert, ‘Degas’, The Burlington Magazine, 31 (November 1917), pp. 193-191

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