'I gladly embrace the occasion', sonorously announced Henry James on making his appearance in The Burlington Magazine, with a highly characteristic obituary of Charles Eliot Norton, published in the number for January 1910. One might echo his words in responding to the invitation from the present editor to turn back, on the occasion of this millennium, to peruse.and ponder on the Burlington in its earliest, Edwardian years, which can reasonably be allowed to stretch beyond the strict limit of the reign to the outbreak of the First World War. With James, having penned his elaborate and yet faintly elusive tribute ('I see how interesting a case, above all, my distinguished friend was ever to remain to me. . .'), there came a moment not of embrace but of distinct recoil on learning of the Magazine's rates of pay. By chance or not, he never appeared again in its pages.
At the time of the Second World War the Burlington Magazine occupied a number of rooms in a sturdy, impersonal office building at the corner of St James's Street and King Street (I6a StJames's St.), very close to Old Bond Street, Christie's and Burlington House, and within walking distance from the National Gallery and the British Museum. Its topographical situation could not have been better, nor its address more distinguished. But apart from these advantages, its offices were devoid of charm. All walls and floors were bare, the furniture old and unattractive, and every attempt by successive editors to improve these surroundings by the addition of some picture or personal object was soon discouraged by the general atmosphere of sobriety and parsimony. The Editor's room had large windows and was adorned by a few book shelves bearing a set of Burlington volumes and a number of reference books, but he had to share it with his assistant. The room of the manager was barely large enough to contain a desk and a chair. Visitors had to traverse a large office occupied by two young men: the clerk, Fred Hipkin, and a general factotum called Hobbes, whose first name I never heard. Hipkin, a businesslike and jovial person, had begun his career as an office boy at the Magazine, in later years becoming its manager, and by the time of his retirement one of the directors. Hobbes cleaned the office, packed and unpacked parcels, made watery tea and in the first days of every month carried the newly published issues to all those subscribers who could be reached on foot; he was thin, bent and silent, and I often wondered what kind of a life he and his family might have.
FROM time to time, editors of THE BURLINGTON MAGAZINE have swept the shelves and drawers of much editorial correspondence. As a result, the Magazine's archive is unexpectedly small and has disappointed many a scholar and biographer in recent years. There is almost nothing relating to its earliest days - the occasional scrap from Roger Fry's hand (though there is a full file of notices of his death in 1934), nothing from the elusive More Adey, little from W. G. Constable. Herbert Read's editorship, which ended in I939, is virtually unrepresented though there are several later letters to Benedict Nicolson on matters of policy, and contributions from Read, as Chairman of the Editorial Board, until his death in 1963. From the post-war years there is a much richer haul, with many letters to the editor from Kenneth Clark, Anthony Blunt, Ellis Waterhouse and John Pope-Hennessy.
THE serious study of Islamic art in the West began just at the time of the founding of the Burlington Magazine. It was in 1903 in Paris at the Musée des arts décoratifs that Gaston Migeon arranged the first general exhibition of Muslim art; and the Magazine opened its pages to two articles on this event, commissioned from the leading French scholar in the field of Islamic manuscripts, Edgard Blochet. The editors could not have foreseen that he would use this opportunity for the first of his many derogatory attacks on Muslim manuscript illumination. However, the mistake was not repeated in 1910, when the second and larger exhibition of Masterpieces of Muslim Art opened in Munich. Then Roger Fry chose to write an appreciation himself in two articles of which he thought sufficiently highly to reprint them in his Vision and Design ten years later. When.the third major pre-1914 exhibition opened, once more in Paris, in 1912, this time devoted to Persian miniature art from five Parisian private collections and that of Adolphe Stoclet in Brussels, the Burlington invited one of the principal contributors to the show, the traveller and novelist Claude Anet, to con-tribute two articles on it.
AMONG the many interpretations of Giorgione's Three philosophers in Vienna which have been put forward to date, only the three earliest ones need be cited in this note. The first is of course the entry by Marcantonio Michiel: 'In the house of M. Taddeo Contarino, 1525, the canvas in oil of the three philosophers in a landscape, two standing, and one sitting who contemplates the solar rays, with that rock which is so marvellously rendered; it was begun by Zorzo del Castelfranco, and completed by Sebastiano Veneziano'. The second is the entry of 1659 in the inventory of the collection of Leopold William where the painting is called 'the three mathematicians (= astrologers)'. The third is the entry of 1783 which reads 'The three magi who wait for the appearance of the star'.
ROGER Fry's significance,a s a critic, painter, exhibition organiser and arbiter of taste has in recent years been reassessed. The recognition awarded him in his own lifetime and up until the 197os has been questioned; his influence, formerly acknowledged to have been generally innovative and advantageous to the growth of modern art in Britain, is now considered, by some, to have been restrictive, elitist and, in the long term, pernicious. The intention behind this article is to assess the grounds upon which such criticism is based; to clarify the ambivalence inherent in Fry's position, as critic and painter, through a comparison of his stance with that of Walter Sickert; and finally to question whether this man, who did much to introduce modernism into British art, can still be regarded as a source of insight and direction in a post-modernist age.
SOMETIMES an artist's work can take on an uncanny ability to warn and prophesy. Just such a moment occurred in the career of David Bomberg, although the full extent of his work's capacity to anticipate a catastrophe has only now become clear. For his extended series of bomb store paintings, which deserve to be counted among his finest achievements, turn out to possess the most unnerving and salutary foresight.
EN 1982 avait lieu au chåteau de Villebertin, près de Troyes, une vente publique marquée par deux caractéristiques devenues exceptionnelles: tout d'abord elle était exclusivement composée d'objets provenant tous de la méme origine. Epsuite ces objets étaient vendus sur place, dans la maison où avait vécu son propriétaire, le comte du Parc, dernier héritier d'une famille qui possédait la seigneurie de Villebertin depuis le XVIIe siécle.