The project documents the commercial and artist led world of the London gallery beyond major institutions such as the Royal Academy and records over 3,000 exhibitions and 900 galleries in London 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.