About the Project

Exhibition Culture in 19th Century London 1878-1908


Nameless and Friendless
Emily Mary Osborn, 'Nameless and Friendless' (1864; private collection), engraving published in Art Journal, vol 3, 1864

This project aims to document the commercial and artist led world of the London gallery beyond major institutions such as the Royal Academy and the Grosvenor Gallery. The website database records over 3,000 exhibitions and 900 galleries in London galleries between 1878 and 1908.

Editorial policy has been to select those that have received less scholarly attention or none at all. Our intention has been to include all types of gallery, from the most humble (some of these only documented through census records) to the most commercially successful (such as Goupil's, Thomas MacLean's and Agnew's) that became international businesses.

The Royal Academy and the Grosvenor Gallery have been (by comparison with many of the galleries documented here) relatively well recorded through printed and other sources. For similar reasons, major exhibition societies like the Royal Society of British Artists, the New English Art Club, the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours and the Royal Institute of Painters in Oil Colours are also excluded. However some societies (such as the Society of Portrait Painters, the Society of Miniaturists and the Society of Lady Artists) held exhibitions under the aegis of smaller-scale commercial galleries. These exhibitions have been included, as their omission would leave an unnecessary gap in recording the pattern of exhibitions at a particular gallery site.

We have erred elsewhere on the side of inclusion. Exhibition and gallery records have come from a variety of sources - exhibition catalogues, manuscript sources, press-cuttings, newspapers, periodicals, yearbooks and local directories. Some of these records are very complete but others are partial at best. Sometimes nineteenth century definitions of the word exhibition are at variance with our modern understanding of the concept. Occasionally exhibitions were cancelled and replaced by others. Printing and other errors appear in the exhibition catalogues - sometimes the Fourth Annual Exhibition of Watercolours at Mr Brown's Gallery, 1886 is followed by the Sixth Annual Exhibition of Watercolours at Mr Brown's Gallery, 1887. Sketchy records have been included on the basis that verification and expansion of the information can be built up over time.

While an important aim of this project has been to provide new documentation about as many businesses and exhibition societies as possible, our focus is necessarily on exploring exhibitions - the artists and others associated with each one, the types of art on display, and the exhibition policies of the gallery. Thus the exhibition becomes a filter through which this project views the activity of the London art market in the late nineteenth century.

User notes:

Exhibitions and galleries -

Editorial policy has been to create a thumbnail of essential information about each exhibition where known - date, title, venue, artists (and other associated names), works of art - that can be built upon as new research information becomes available. Essential information has also been recorded about many galleries/exhibition societies. However, exhibition records have not yet been located for every gallery recorded here but information will be incorporated if and when it becomes available.

Exhibition titles -

Every effort has been made to incorporate up-to-date information about each exhibition. However while the information available about each exhibition may often be rich in detail, all too often, a catalogue or detailed description of the exhibition does not survive and the exhibition record must be compiled from the sketchiest of references in a periodical article or art yearbook. In these more informal sources exhibition titles are often vague (if they exist at all) and more than one title can sometimes be attached to the same exhibition. Whilst exhibition titles recorded from exhibition catalogues and newspaper advertisements are generally the most authentic, approximate titles have had to be devised for exhibitions recorded from more informal sources. Thus while an effort has been made to retain the 19th century flavour of the title wording, for the purposes of this project, exhibition titles are devised with the intention of recording the exhibition in the most accurate and descriptive way.

Dates -

The dates given record when each exhibition is known to have been taking place. However these are only the dates about which evidence has so far been identified - many exhibitions may have extended beyond this time span.

Names -

The exhibition society/dealer name recorded here is that by which the organisation was commonly known. However changes and significant variations in organisation name have been noted, as have changes of personnel/proprietor and address. This information will be gradually incorporated into the exhibition society/dealer record structure

Sources -

Reference is given to sources used for recording current research information. See the bibliography section of this website for further reading. Suggestions for additional bibliography are welcomed.

Abbreviations -

Abbreviations used in the exhibition and gallery notes: NAL (National Art Library, London); BL (British Library); Tate Archives (Hyman Kreitman Research Centre, Tate Britain); POD (Kelly's Post Office London Directories); Census (UK census records, see http://www.familyrecords.gov.uk/frc)

Citing the Exhibition Culture in London 1878-1908 database -

Exhibition Culture in London 1878-1908 database, University of Glasgow, 2006 (http://www.exhibitionculture.arts.gla.ac.uk/).

Copyright Notice -

Copyright in the editorial text in this website is owned by the University of Glasgow. This web-site is published by the University Court of the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom. University of Glasgow 2006.

Introductory Essays