Wednesday, January 29, 2014

131. The Burlington Magazine Index Blog

Barbara Pezzini of the Burlington Index Project - she wrote for us about Ricketts and The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs in 2012 - has started The Burlington Magazine Index Blog in November of last year. Published on an irregular basis, seven blogs have now been posted on former editors of the journal, the use of photography to art critics, art dealers' advertisements, and a poem and a story by Robert Ross that make fun of art critics.

The Burlington Index Project discloses the hidden treasures in this art magazine, that in a certain phase of his life, was important to Ricketts. He wrote a series of articles for the magazine, and his name frequently figured in its columns.

Writing about his description of Titian's paintings three weeks ago, I was reminded of the review that was published by the Burlington on his book on Titian in 1910. It was signed C.J.H., Charles John Holmes (1868-1936), one-time manager of the Vale Press who had moved on to become co-editor of the Burlington Magazine. By the time of his writing the review of Titian, he was director of the National Portrait Gallery. In 1916 he was appointed director of the National Gallery.

Holmes wrote a review that showed his acute knowledge of recent publications in the field. He praised the writers' point of view 'of a working painter', which brought a 'true originality' to the book, he questioned the need for one of the illustrations, criticized the limited discussion of the problematic dating of Titian's birth, and corrected the occasional error:

Now and then he slips, as in the reference to Ruskin (p. 171), who from first to last never wavered in his wholehearted veneration for Titian, but such slips are rare.

An anonymous reader also noted this slip and made a marginal note on this page.

Handwritten note in a copy of Charles Ricketts, Titian (1910)
This copy was probably owned by a connoisseur, who used many pages for handwritten annotations, and inserted paper clippings about newly discovered paintings by Titian, or sale results, in the late twenties and thirties. 

 Annotations and clippings in a copy of Charles Ricketts, Titian (1910)
Blank pages were used for listings of paintings and galleries in addition to Ricketts's List of works, and newspaper articles were pasted over some illustrations, as in the case of Titian's portrait of Philip II.

Annotations and clippings in a copy of Charles Ricketts, Titian (1910)
The annotations in pen seem to be written by another reader than the pencil underscores and remarks that occur throughout the book, as page 106 shows. The Pencil Commentator adds information from a 1927 article, and refers to George Gronau's earlier work, Tizian (1900). The Pen Commentator, in a paragraph about 'Ecce Homo', inserts details about the 'Kunst & Wunderkammer' in Prague, wrongly 'correcting' Ricketts's phrasing of the transfer of the painting from Prague to Vienna.

Annotations in pen and pencil in a copy of Charles Ricketts, Titian (1910)
Alas, there is no name or bookplate, nor are there any personal references that can lead us to the writer(s) of these annotations. The only thing to go by, is a 'Presentation copy' stamp on the title page. 

'Presentation copy' of Charles Ricketts, Titian (1910)
Holmes review (The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, June 1910, p. 184-185) ended with a recommendation:

The book, in short, contains much that might assist the producers, the collectors, and even the critics of modern art, while we have said enough to show that to the library of the student it should become essential.

The 'Presentation copy' shows that the book was used as a work of reference for the twenty years that followed its publication.

And that, in a way, is the function of The Burlington Magazine Index Blog. It will publish details and stories about the magazine, while calling attention to new research, which will prompt you to visit a gallery or museum, or consult your bookcase, or to type up your findings and questions.