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Marion Harry Alexander Spielmann (London 22 May 1858 – 1948) was a prolific Victorian art critic and scholar who was the editor of The Connoisseur and Magazine of Art. Among his voluminous output, he wrote a history of Punch, the first biography of John Everett Millais and a detailed investigation into the evidence for portraits of William Shakespeare.
Spielmann was born in London, the son of a Polish Jew who settled in England. He was educated at University College School and University College London. He soon established himself as an art journalist, writing for the Pall Mall Gazette from 1883 to 1890, most notably discussing the work of G. F. Watts.
By the 1880s, Spielmann had become "one of the most powerful figures in the late Victorian art world". From 1887 to 1904 Spielmann edited the Magazine of Art. The influence of Impressionism and Aestheticism was particularly strong at this period, and under Spielmann's editorship, the journal encouraged lively debate about these movements. Spielmann commissioned articles from traditionalists like William Powell Frith and Millais as well as supporters of the new art. He also founded Black and White, a journal devoted to the print revival, and was a regular contributor to The Graphic, the Illustrated London News, and other periodicals."
Spielmann was also active in arts administration and was closely involved with the controversy over the Chantrey Bequest, which led to his altering the conditions under which works were purchased for the bequest by the Royal Academy of Arts. He was the juror for England in the 1898 Brussels Fine Art Exhibition. He also advised internationally on art collecting. He was a member of the Athenaeum.
Spielmann was himself essentially a traditionalist who resisted the advance of Post-Impressionist and modern art. He typically emphasised masculine and decisive qualities in art, for example describing the sculptor George Anderson Lawson as "strong, manly and artistic". For Spielmann, Millais epitomised these qualities. With the rise of Modernism, Spielmann's influence became increasingly marginal.
Spielmann was married to his first cousin, Mabel Henrietta, Herbert Samuel's sister.
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- Marion H. Spielmann, The Jewish Encyclopedia
- Julie F. Codell, Marion Harry Spielmann and the Role of the Press in the Professionalization of Artists, Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Spring, 1989), pp. 7–15.
- See Julie F. Codell, "‘The Artist's Cause at Heart’: Marion Harry Spielmann and the Late Victorian Art World," Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, v. 71 (1989), pp. 139–63.
- Partha Mitter, Art and nationalism in colonial India, 1850–1922, Cambridge University Press, 1994, p. 24
- Elizabeth Prettejohn, After the Pre-Raphaelites: Art and Aestheticism in Victorian England, Manchester University Press, 1999, p.243