Hodgson & Graves hired Samuel Carter Hall as editor, assisted by James Dafforne. Hall soon became principal proprietor, but he was unable to turn a profit on his own. The London publisher George Virtue then purchased into Hall's Art Union Monthly Journal in 1848, retaining Hall as editor. Virtue renamed the periodical The Art Journal in 1849.
In 1851, Hall's engravings, 150 pictures from the private collection of the Queen and Prince Albert, were featured in The Art Journal as the "Great Exhibition of 1851". Though this feature was popular, the publication remained unprofitable, forcing Hall to sell his share of the journal to Virtue, while staying on as editor. In 1852, the journal finally turned a profit.
As editor, Hall exposed the profits that custom-houses were earning on the import of Old Masters, and showed how paintings were manufactured in England. The Art Journal became noted for its honest portrayal of the fine arts, but its opposition to fake and mis-attributed Old Masters, such as Raphael or Titian, depressed the market in such works.
The early issues of the magazine, published on a monthly basis, strongly supported the artists of The Clique and after 1850 it became associated with opposition to the emerging Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB), which Hall considered to be a reactionary movement. Its articles attacked the PRB and its supporter John Ruskin.
After Hall's retirement in 1880, the journal changed its position, and faced strong competition from the Magazine of Art and the changing public taste influenced by Impressionism. In the event neither magazine was able to survive: the Magazine of Art ceased publication in 1904, and The Art Journal in 1912.
Our copy is not dated in the usual way but the first pages has January 1991 at the bottom.
Excellent pages, some edge and board wear + one plate "Summer Flowers", between pages 264 and 265, is missing.