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.
Stacey J. Pierson is a Senior Lecturer in the department of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her areas of specialization include ceramic history (China) and the history of collecting and display. Her most recent publication was From Object to Concept: Global Consumption and the Transformation of Ming Porcelain, 2013.
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
"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