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About the Index

What is The Burlington Magazine Online index?

The Burlington Magazine Online Index is a web-based art-historical database holding more than 40,000 records. It was developed by keepthinking in 2009. The Online Index is updated quarterly and currently covers the period 1903-1992. All the editorial content of The Burlington Magazine - articles, letters, reviews, calendars - and its illustrations are indexed.

The purpose of the Online Index is to provide detailed access to the art-historical information contained in The Burlington Magazine.

The Burlington Magazine Online Index is FREE.

Why should I use the Burlington Magazine Online Index instead of JSTOR?

Through its highly consistent and comprehensive subject indexing, the Online Index far exceeds the free-text searches available via JSTOR.

The added value of the Online Index is:

- Indexing is done by using controlled terms resulting in a consistent coverage of concepts that are expressed in many different ways in the literature (example: artists with different names such as Roger de la Pasture/Rogier Van der Weyden)

- Indexing is done according to well-defined guidelines resulting in a highly consistent product (example: articles on Chinese aesthetics may not have the word esthetics spelled out and referred as ‘thought’ but they are consistenly indexed as Chinese aesthetics)

- Subject indexing within the Online Index interface allows users to refine searches.

How does The Burlington Magazine Online Index work?

Like other databases, in the Online Index users are able to search and browse. It is possible to search for author, title, date, subject and article type. Searches can be refined by specifying fields and by adding any number of conditions. The route for browsing is by A-Z lists of: Contributors, artists, collectors and art dealers, patrons, private galleries, museums and institutions and buildings

How is The Burlington Magazine Online Index organised?

The Online Index groups single, discipline-specific terms and names under thirteen main categories:

art literature (art historians, art commentators, art journalists and art critics); artists (painters, sculptors, architects, engravers, printmakers, furniture makers, potters, designers, film makers etc.); buildings (churches, cathedrals, temples, country houses, historic houses, castles, stately homes etc.); collectors (art collectors and art dealers); places (geographical reference); dates (chronological reference of an artwork or artist, always given in full, e.g. 1400); private galleries (private exhibitions and commercial spaces); media (painting, sculpture, drawing, engraving, architecture, etc.); museums (public exhibitions and display spaces); patrons (collectors directly related to the production of the artwork); sources (direct testimonies and commentaries of artists’ lives and works, could be art historical but also literary or documentary); subjects (other term and names descriptors of the text that are not included in the previous categorisation, e.g., names of saints, generic terms like ‘Iconography’, ‘History’, etc.); works (titles of works of art)

Keywords are attributed to texts, according to their content.

Which contents of the Burlington Magazine are indexed and how?

All contents are indexed except the Advertising Supplements.

Three main groups of texts can be identified:

1 - Articles and Short Notices:

This is the main group of articles, lengthy and very often accompanied by illustrations. They are indexed in full, with the greater amount of keywords and they almost always contain references to ‘dates’, ‘places’ and media (painting/sculpture etc.). All other keywords are filled in as appropriate for the text.  

2 - Books Reviews, Exhibition Reviews, Editorials, Letters, Obituaries, Publicatios received
This group of texts are still critically significant, albeit to varying degrees. They would not normally include illustrations (an exception to this are exhibition reviews).
These are indexed more briefly.

Both are highly important groups and decisions on indexing structure are lead by the text, rather than vice versa. For instance, a very long, critically significant book review is treated like an article and given relevance by a relative abundance of keywords and terms.

3 - Other, Calendars, Corrections, Vol. Info:
These texts do not contain any critical elaboration and are indexed briefly within a rigidly structured format.

Are illustrations indexed, and how?

All illustrations of The Burlington Magazine are indexed, except those found in advertisements.

Illustrations are catalogued according to three main categories: Attributed works; Western art unattributed; Eastern art unattributed

Attributed works are indexed by artist. A submenu (artist/by, artist/after, artist/attributed to, artist/circle of, artist/school of) allows to specify the precise role of the artist. The artists’ names are linked to ULAN. Because of the high number of illustrations the only descriptor inserted under ‘subjects’ is ‘media’.

Unattributed works, both Eastern and Western, also have ‘media’ as subject descriptor. As a substitute for the artist’s name, however, they contain a reference to their geographical origin (Italian, Nigerian, Japanese etc.).

What are the ethical guidelines of The Burlington Magazine Online Index?

The Index Editor endeavours to use inclusive language. For example, for women art historians referred to with their husband’s name (e.g. the art historian Cicely Margater Powell, after her marriage referred as Mrs. Laurence Binyon), the editor ensures when possible to include their maiden names to avoid confusion. Names of Asian and African art are listed according to the current spelling, but if a term has been historically used, it is listed as an alternative in related names. An exception is made if the term is currently considered offensive.

Barbara Pezzini, September 2010