About Phaidon


Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts. We work with the world's most influential authors to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food, and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon has a long and distinguished history as an art-book publisher with over 1,500 titles in print. In 2023, Phaidon celebrates its 100th anniversary.


The company was founded in Vienna in 1923 by Dr Béla Horovitz, Frederick ‘Fritz’ Ungar, and Ludwig Goldscheider. Horovitz named the company Phaidon ('ai' pronounced 'i' as in 'wise' - International Phonetic Alphabet) in reference to Phaedo, a Greek philosopher and pupil of Socrates, to acknowledge his love of classical culture. Horovitz created quality books at an affordable price while Goldscheider contributed elegant layouts and handsome production.

The classic, now familiar, archetypal Phaidon book was introduced in 1937 with large-format publications on Van Gogh, Botticelli, and the French Impressionists. Horovitz was a pioneer of the international co-edition.


The arrival of the Nazis in Vienna forced Horovitz to move the company to England. For the next fourteen years, Phaidon books were distributed through George Allen and Unwin Ltd. Horovitz and Goldscheider expanded the large-format series to include books on Donatello, Bellini, and Michelangelo, many edited by Goldscheider himself.

After the war, the company launched an innovative programme of scholarly and popular art publishing. This included the monumental critical catalogue of drawings in The Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, begun in 1942, and an elegant 'pocket' series of art-history texts.

One of Phaidon's best-known and biggest-selling titles, The Story of Art, first published in 1950, was the result of a chance meeting between Horovitz and Ernst H. Gombrich on the top deck of a London bus. A fellow pre-war refugee from Vienna, Gombrich was a research fellow teaching at the Warburg Institute. Horovitz persuaded him to write a one-volume survey of the history of art, and to encourage the reluctant author to persevere — Horovitz refused to take back the advance on royalties that Gombrich had been paid when he wavered. The book has gone on to sell 8 million copies and has been translated into 40 languages.


When Béla Horovitz died suddenly in New York in 1955, Phaidon continued under the direction of his son-in-law, Harvey Miller, who upheld the traditions of scholarship and high quality, producing fine monographs and catalogues, expanding the Colour Plate (now Colour Library) series and many of Gombrich's more scholarly titles. In 1967 Phaidon was sold to Frederick Praeger Inc, a subsidiary of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Praeger found the venture unprofitable and in 1974 he sold the company to Elsevier.

The 1970s saw a great expansion in the number of staff employed by Phaidon and the number of titles it published. Like many other publishers at the time, Phaidon diversified into a range of subject areas and began to buy-in titles from publishers abroad. Elsevier found art books unprofitable and, in 1981, 4 directors led a management buyout under the name Musterlin.


Entrepreneur Richard Schlagman acquired Phaidon Press in 1990 with the objective of re-establishing it as the leading publisher of books on the visual arts. The company’s headquarters returned to London in May 1991, with an energetic publishing program of new books, the revitalising of older standard texts, and the establishment of a global sales and distribution operation.

The company's fortunes were revived, in part, via a return to Phaidon's traditional values of excellent design and affordable prices. The books became recognised worldwide as being of the highest quality in terms of content, design, and production.

The 2005 English publication of The Silver Spoon and the 2006 launch of the Wallpaper* City Guides, a major series of travel guides aimed at Phaidon's core audience, successfully extended the publishing list beyond the company's traditional subject areas.


In October 2012, Phaidon came under new ownership and its new senior management team began the task of growing the company for the long term as the world's leading publisher of books in the visual arts, food, and children's markets.

Publishing successes in subsequent years expanded the growing art program to include books made in collaboration with the global superstar Rihanna, NIKE, photographer Annie Leibovitz, fashion designer Sir Paul Smith, the streetwear brand Supreme, and Cecily Brown, one of many cutting-edge artists in the company's iconic Contemporary Artists Series. More recently, Phaidon has successfully added interior design to its core publishing categories.

In August 2014 Phaidon acquired the online art-sales business Artspace, and in January 2020 Phaidon acquired the esteemed publishing house The Monacelli Press from its founder, Gianfranco Monacelli.

With Headquarters in London and New York, and offices in Paris and Berlin, Phaidon now operates a global sales and distribution network, selling in over 100 countries and publishing books in English, Chinese, French, Spanish, Japanese, and German, and with an increasing number of publishing partners in further languages.

In 2023 Phaidon celebrates its 100th anniversary with a series of special events and exhibitions in the US and Europe, as well as the publication of 100 Years of Creativity, featuring original, visual contributions from 100 living artists, writers, designers, architects, illustrators, and chefs. For more information, please visit Phaidon 100th Anniversary