The Burlington Fine Arts Club was founded in London in 1866 as a gentlemen’s club with a singular remit – to exhibit members’ art collections. Exhibitions were proposed, organized, and furnished by a group of prominent members of British society who included aristocrats, artists, bankers, politicians, and museum curators. Exhibitions at their grand house in Mayfair brought many private collections and collectors to light, using members’ social connections to draw upon the finest and most diverse objects available. Through their unique mode of presentation, which brought museum-style display and interpretation to a grand domestic-style gallery space, they also brought two forms of curatorial and art historical practice together in one unusual setting, enabling an unrestricted form of connoisseurship, where new categories of art were defined and old ones expanded. The history of this remarkable group of people has yet to be presented and is explored here for the first time. Through a framework of exhibition themes ranging from Florentine painting to Ancient Egyptian art, a study of lenders, objects, and their interpretation paints a picture of private collecting activities, connoisseurship, and art world practice that is surprisingly diverse and interconnected.
"This book is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in art market studies and the interconnectedness of the public and the private, the formation of private clubs and public taste and the network of agents who manoeuvre between them."
--New Books Network
Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Plates
Part 1: Introduction: A New Gentlemen’s Club for London
Part 2: Exhibitions
Chapter 1 Painting and Prints in Europe and Britain
Chapter 2 Ceramics East and West
Chapter 3 Persia, Egypt, and India
Chapter 4 Indigenous and Primitive Art
Part 3: Epilogue: The Club, its Legacy and the Historiography of Collecting and Display
Appendix A: List of Special Exhibitions Mounted by the Club with Visitor Numbers (where Available) from 1869
Appendix B: Biographical Index of Active Members and Contributors
About the Series
The Histories of Material Culture and Collecting provides a forum for the broad study of object acquisition and collecting practices in their global dimensions from 1700 to 1950. The series seeks to illuminate the intersections between material culture studies, art history, and the history of collecting. It takes as its starting point the idea that objects both contributed to the formation of knowledge in the past and likewise contribute to our understanding of the past today. The human relationship to objects has proven a rich field of scholarly inquiry, with much recent scholarship either anthropological or sociological rather than art historical in perspective. Underpinning this series is the idea that the physical nature of objects contributes substantially to their social meanings, and therefore that the visual, tactile, and sensual dimensions of objects are critical to their interpretation. This series therefore seeks to bridge anthropology and art history, sociology and aesthetics. It encompasses the following areas of concern: 1. Material culture in its broadest dimension, including the high arts of painting and sculpture, the decorative arts (furniture, ceramics, metalwork, etc.), and everyday objects of all kinds. 2. Collecting practices, be they institutionalized activities associated with museums, governmental authorities, and religious entities, or collecting done by individuals and social groups. 3. The role of objects in defining self, community, and difference in an increasingly international and globalized world, with cross-cultural exchange and travel the central modes of object transfer. 4. Objects as constitutive of historical narratives, be they devised by historical figures seeking to understand their past or in the form of modern scholarly narratives. The series publishes interdisciplinary and comparative research on objects that addresses one or more of these perspectives and includes monographs, thematic studies, and edited volumes of essays.
BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
- ART / Collections, Catalogs, Exhibitions / General
- ART / History / General
- ART / European
- ART / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945)
- ART / Museum Studies