Phaidon was founded in Vienna in 1923 as a history and art-book publisher. The founders, Dr Bela Horovitz and Ludwig Goldscheider named the company Phaidon (the German form of Phaedo) after Phaedo of Elis, a pupil of Socrates, to reflect their love of classical antiquity and culture. Their first titles were on literature, philosophy and history. Phaidon’s large-format art books first emerged in 1937 with the issue of high quality plates on works by Vincent van Gogh, Sandro Botticelli, and the French Impressionists.
Horovitz and Goldscheider moved their company to England in the late 1930s. In 1950, Phaidon published what would become one of the most influential titles in the art world and the best selling art book of all time. The Story of Art by Ernst Gombrich has, since its publication in 1950, sold more than 7 million copies and been translated into more than 20 languages.