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Dell, Robert

    Image Credit: the Burliington Magazine IIndex blog

    Full Name: Dell, Robert

    Other Names:

    • Robert Edward Dell

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1865

    Date Died: 1940

    Place Died: Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia, GermanyNew York, NY, USA

    Home Country/ies: United Kingdom

    Career(s): art critics, journalists, and publishers


    First editor of the Burlington Magazine 1903-1906; political journalist. Dell was editor of the Connoisseur magazine, a British art journal describing itself as “for collectors.” In 1903 Dell helped found and became first editor of the Burlington Magazine, togehter with the principals, the art historians Bernard Berenson, Herbert P. Horne and Roger Fry. The intent was to produce a British art journal for the serious art scholar, based upon the models of connoisseurship. The magazine, however, lost money and the same year Fry appointed C. J. Holmes as co-editor. Holmes’ experience in publishing and printing put the magazine on secure footing. The quality of the publication which the magazine enjoyed resulted from the “Consultative Committee” Dell put together, whose members included Viscount Dillon (Harold Arthur Lee-Dillon) (1844-1932), cultural MP and art historian David Alexander Edward Lindsay, British Museum director Sir Edward Maunde Thompson (1840-1929), Victoria & Albert Museum director Caspar Purdon Clarke, British Museum Keeper of Prints Sidney Colvin, Harvard art professor Charles Eliot Norton, National Gallery of British Art (“Tate”) director Charles Holroyd, French scholar and Gazette des Beaux-Arts director Salomon Reinach, British Museum Prints and Drawings Keeper Laurence Binyon and Berlin Museums director Wilhelm Bode. Dell hired Edgerton Beck, (d. 1941) a later costume historian, as his assistant. In 1906 Dell resigned in an apparent power struggle with Fry, moving to Paris to be the foreign correspondent for the Manchester Guardian. After World War I he was expelled from the Clemenceau government for articles criticizing France’s attempts at a 1917 peace negotiations with Austria. After the War, he worked for the Nation as a correspondent as well. Dell wrote a book on his experiences with the French, My Second Country, in 1920. His expulsion to France was rescinded in 1926 and he returned briefly. He moved to New York in 1938, residing at the Hotel Brevoort where he died in 1940. Dell and the Burlington Magazine were the center of the squabbles that took place among British authorities of Italian Renaissance. Fry’s usurping of the magazine was in part to consolidate his opinions on Quattrocento art. Dell sided with R. Langton Douglas and Sandford Arthur Strong, a camp opposed to the opinions of Berenson and Fry.

    Selected Bibliography

    “A Tudor Manor House: Sutton Place by Guildford.” Burlington Magazine 7, no. 28 (Jul., 1905): 289-301; Introduction. Catalogue of an Exhibition of the Work of Modern French Artists. Brighton, England: Public Art Galleries, Brighton, 1910; My Second Country. London: John Lane, 1920.


    “To the Readers of the Burlington Magazine.” Burlington Magazine 10, no. 43 (Oct., 1906): 6; Current Biography Yearbook. 1940 edition. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1940; Samuels, Ernst. Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1979, pp. 390-1; Leahy, Helen Rees. “The Burlington Magazine, 1903-1911.” in, Mansfield, Elizabeth, ed. Art History and its Institutions: Foundations of a Discipline. New York: Routledge, 2002, pp. 232-234; [obituary:] “Mr. Robert Dell.” Burlington Magazine 77, no. 449. (August 1940): 67; “Robert Dell Dies, A British Writer.” New York Times July 21, 1940, p. 29.


    Contributors: Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen


    Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen. "Dell, Robert." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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