Gallery acquires Burlington Magazine archive

The Burlington Magazine has generously donated its archive to the National Gallery. The archive, dating back to the early years of the 20th century, will be made available to researchers in the National Gallery Research Centre.

The Burlington Magazine was founded in 1903 as a monthly publication covering the fine and decorative arts. While the magazine has never been tied to a particular institution, it has always had a close affinity with the National Gallery: Charles Holmes and Neil MacGregor edited the magazine in the 1910s and 1980s respectively and both would go on to become Directors of the National Gallery.

The cover of the first issue of the Burlington Magazine (left), The first entry from the Director’s Attendance Register, showing Charles Holmes, Robert Dell, and Roger Fry


The archive largely consists of editorial correspondence, including letters from significant art historians such as Kenneth Clark, Wilhelm von Bode, Anthony Blunt, Federico Zeri, and John Pope-Hennessy. In addition, a series of volumes contain the advertisements which were printed at the front of each issue. In some cases, these will provide the only evidence for the appearance of a gallery or the sale of a work of art.

Speaking on behalf of the Burlington Magazine, John Nicoll, Chairman of the Burlington Magazine Foundation, said:

"The Burlington Magazine archives provide an invaluable insight into the development of art history and its literature in 20th-century Britain, and we are grateful to the National Gallery for providing it with a home where it will be properly catalogued and preserved, and where it will be available in perpetuity for research purposes."

Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, said:

"The Burlington Magazine is the pre-eminent art history periodical in the English language and has published articles of seminal importance over its 115-year history. Its archive has found a welcoming home at the National Gallery where it will be available for consultation by the scholarly community." 

The National Gallery’s Research Centre will take responsibility for cataloguing and caring for the archive, ensuring its long-term preservation and accessibility. Once catalogued, researchers will be able to search the archive using the online catalogue and request to view the collection in the Research Centre reading room. Meanwhile any enquiries should be addressed to research.centre@ng-london.org.uk

The Research Centre has primary responsibility for managing, conserving, and providing access to the Gallery's library and archive collections. This includes the institutional archive as well a number of collections which explore and illuminate the history of taste and collecting. The Burlington Magazine archive is an important addition to these significant collections and will further enable the Gallery to serve as the pre-eminent centre for research into paintings in the Western European tradition from the 13th to early 20th centuries.