Exoticism @ the Centennial Exhibition, part II

As we were determined to celebrate our Centennial on a grand scale and   establish our national legitimacy, the Centennial Exhibition offered Americans the opportunity to ogle exotic markets and peoples.

I am always a sucker for Continental allegory, it  enchants me.

The Exotic clearly enchanted our 19th century forefathers.

Each participating nation was granted an opportunity to participate and show off it’s national glory.

And show off they did.

One can never have enough Egypto-mania, the Egyptian Hall was of course a smash.

magic awaits

fabulous goods

what more do you need?

difficult to see, but that’s a stuffed crocodile between tusks, exotic enough for you?

Cleopatra

by Enrico Braga

from the Masterpieces of the Centennial International Exhibition Illustrated, Vol. I

1876-88

edited by Edward Strahan

The entrance to Agricultural Hall was a Moorish fantasy come to life.

a promenade worthy of a Sultaness.

Of course nothing speaks of the Exotic like Japonism, the Japanese were happy to oblige.

from the Gems of the Centennial Exhibition, my own pitiful scan, please pardon.

Mammoth Japanese Bronze Vase

What every Robber Baron needs for the Entrance Hall.

Let us not forget Exoticism in our own land. The freed slaves obviously provided picturesque artistic inspiration.

Freed Slave by Francesco Pezzicar

shown in the Art Gallery, better known today as Memorial Hall.

Perhaps women were considered equally exotic as they merited their own hall, the Women’s Building.

Never pass up the chance to oogle naked lady bits is what I say.

Although much of the Art  appears to have been  exhibited in the Memorial Hall.

Memorial Hall

architect H.J. Schwarzman

H.J. Schwarzman

Chief Planner of the Exhibition

This was no easy task,held in 1876, from May through November; close to ten million visitors passed through it’s gates. 30,000 exhibitors from 51 countries, enticed, enlightened and befuddled the throngs.

Main Exhibition Building

Over 50 acres of exhibition space, the Great Exhibition of 1851 was a little over 20 acres.

Once again we felt the need to over compensate.

Horticultural Hall

Interior of Agricultural Hall

same as Horticultural Hall???

Our individual States erected pavilions.

Was this before California became it’s own State?, I cannot remember.

My own home state had a much more magnificent building in which to boast.

From my reading of the “Gems”, New Jersey was the first to sign on to the Exhibition, some southern states soon followed. Perhaps Carpet Baggers eager to please the North.

How charming, how so NOT Jersey Shore.


I have never been to Memorial Hall, I only know it as a floating Xanadu above Fairmont Park.

My sister assures me things have changed, lets just hope they haven’t scrubbed away the romance.

A bit of ephemera.

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3 Responses to “Exoticism @ the Centennial Exhibition, part II”

  1. Hi there! When you get the chance, please check the sidebar at the Chateau. You’ll be glad you did!

    Cheers!

  2. Great piece. I have always been interested in these exhibitions, most pretend to be international but most are flag waving excuses for the host country. Nevertheless, fascinating stuff and the catalogues are something else.

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