Dr Barbara Pezzini

Title of PhD: Making a Market for Art: Agnew’s and the National Gallery, 1850-1944


  • Helen Rees Leahy
  • Alan Crookham (The National Gallery)

Short overview of my PhD

The aim of my project was to investigate the relationship between Agnew’s and the National Gallery, particularly studying how an art dealer creates a market for their goods, and how a public collector (specifically, the National Gallery) responds to and shapes that market. The research investigated the history of the National Gallery’s engagement with Agnew’s and the impact of this influential dealer on the formation of the Gallery’s collection; for example, by examining the tensions and synergies between commerce and philanthropy, and between profit and patriotism. This is the first in-depth study of a remarkably long relationship between a particular dealer and the National Gallery; in turn, it will provide an important historical and critical perspective on the operation of the Gallery within the art market.

Short biography

I am an art historian with over 15 years of experience in curatorial, archival and research projects. I am particularly interested in the critical reception, market and circulation of Old Masters paintings and how this informed scholarship, historiography and artistic practice. In conjunction with this Doctorate, I lead the Index project of the Burlington Magazine and write and research on its early history, especially on the network of artists, art writers, art dealers and museum professionals connected with the art press in England between1900 and 1949. In the past I have worked for The National Gallery and The National Trust in archival, digital and research projects. My work is published in Arlis Journal, Apollo, Burlington Magazine, British Art Journal, Transactions of the Romney Society and Visual Resources. I like ultra-marathon running, poetry, Turandot and cake.

PhD-related publications, presentations and other outputs

Edited collections

  • (In progress) A Worldwide Market for Old Masters, edited by Susanna Avery-Quash and Barbara Pezzini, proposal approved by commissioning editor and passed peer review. Awaiting for final Board approval and contract. Bloomsbury Academic, forthcoming, 2019.
  • 'Medieval Modernity', Visual Resources, March 2016, Editor.
  • 'Rootless Cosmopolitans', Visual Resources, April 2016, Editor.
  • 'The Art Press in the Twentieth Century: Aspects in Europe and the United States', Visual Resources, March 2015, Guest Editor. 

Book chapters

  • 'From Modern Painters to Old Masters: Agnew’s and the National Gallery' in: A Worldwide Market for Old Masters between the Napoleonic Era and the Great Depression, edited by Susanna Avery-Quash and Barbara Pezzini (Brill, Leiden), forthcoming.
  • 'Inter/national art: the London old-master paintings and modern British art', book chapter, in: Art Crossing Borders: The Birth of an Integrated Art Market in the Age of Nation States, edited by Jan Dirk Baetens and Dries Lyna, Brill, Leiden, forthcoming, 2018.
  • 'Art criticism, museums and market prices in twentieth century Britain: Thomas Gainsborough’s Mr and Mrs Andrewsand George Romney’s The Leigh Family', book chapter in: The Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing: Art Criticism in the Global Market, edited by Matthew Bowman, I.B. Tauris, forthcoming2018-9.
  • 'The Value and Price of the Renaissance, Robert Ross and the Satire of Connoisseurship', in Lorenzo Carletti (ed.), La Storiaela Critica, Pisa, Societá Storica Pisana, 2016.

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

  • 'The “Art” and the “Market” Elements of the Art Market: John Linnell, William Agnew and Artist-Dealer Relationships', Journal of Art Market Studies, 4, Forthcoming, Autumn 2018.
  • 'Provenance as a History of Change: from Caliari in Scotland to Tintoretto in America, the critical and commercial trajectories of a Venetian portrait' [with Michael G. Brennan], Journal of the History of Collections, March 2018.
  • 'Art sales and attributions: the National Gallery acquisition of The Tribute Money by Titian', Journal of Art Historiography, December 2017.
  • 'Concepts of Value in European Material Culture, 1500–1900', Journal for Art Market Studies, Issue 2, Autumn 2017.
  • 'Days with Velázquez: when Lockett Agnew bought the Rokeby Venusfor Lockett Agnew', Burlington Magazine (May 2016).
  • 'Blown into glittering by the popular breath’: the relationship between George Romney’s criticism and art market', Burlington Magazine, (July 2015) [with Alycen Mitchell].
  • 'The Burlington Magazine, The Burlington Gazette and The Connoisseur. The Art Periodical and the Market for Old-Master Paintings in Edwardian London', Visual Resources (September 2013).
  • 'The 1912 Futurist exhibition at the Sackville Gallery, London: an avant-garde show within the Old-Masters trade', Burlington Magazine, (July 2013).
  • 'New documents regarding the 1902 ‘Fans and other paintings on silk by Charles Conder' exhibition at the Carfax Gallery', British Art Journal (Spring 2012).
  • 'More Adey, The Carfax Gallery and The Burlington Magazine', Burlington Magazine (December 2011).

Exhibition Catalogues

  • 'A Nexus between Private and Public Collecting: Herbert Cook as patron of the arts at the turn of the twentieth century', in: Francis Cook as Collector (exhibition catalogue), Lisbon, Monserrate Palace, Parque de Sintra, Lisbon, Caleidoscopio, 2017.
  • 'William Agnew at the Summer Exhibition', 'Exhibiting and Selling Women Artists' and 'The Great Old Man William Ewart Gladstone at the Summer Exhibition' in The Great Spectacle: The Royal Academy and its Summer Exhibitions, 1769-2018, London and New Haven, Yale, forthcoming 2018.

Professional Journals Articles

  • 'Towards a network analysis of art writers in Edwardian London: The Art Journal, Connoisseur and Burlington Magazine in 1903', Arlis Journal 38.1 (2013).
  • 'An open resource for scholars and a primary source for research: the Burlington Magazine online index.' Arlis Journal 36.3 (2011).

Contact details