This title plate from the souvenir folio “Recollections of the Great Exhibition, 1850, London, Lloyd Bros. & Comp., Sept 1st 1851”, expresses the international participation that Prince Albert had hoped for when planning the exhibition with Henry Cole and fellow reformers.
(The dome is from Coalbrookdale, the statue of Wm. Shakespeare by John Bell.)
The influence of the Great Exhibition was significant, setting off a chain of similar design exhibits. This focus on design, with it’s lofty intentions of raising aesthetic standards, is so rare in our present society, the focus being profit. The luxury of building the Crystal Palace to showcase goods, often as banal as fire grates, is almost incomprehensible .
As much as I may admire the intention, their were contemporary critics who felt differently, Pugin called the Crystal Palace a “glass monster”, Carlyle derided it as a “big glass bubble”; and the influential Ruskin dismissed it as a “conservatory”. The above plate of this controversial structure was by G. Baxter
The following plates are from the “Recollections” folio.
Ecclesiastical and Civil
Part of the Birmingham Court (by H.C.Pidgeon)
Part of the China Court (by J. Absolon)
It would be ridiculous not to include some of the fancy goods set out to entice and bewitch a design hungry crowd. Some lovely, some vulgar, all from my perspective, beguiling.
I love the over florid “naturalistic” ornament, seems unlikely that they were able to carve so many tendrils, I imagine it was flattened in construction.
by Augustus Welby Pugin, manufacturer John Hardmon & Comp.
I guess Pugin got over his disgust and decided to peddle his wares in the “glass monster’ after all.
Really it doesn’t get better then this.
This is the reason critics lampoon the 19th century, and why anachronistic old farts like myself adore it.
With that , thank you your Majesty.
by Franz Xavier Winterhalter
dressed as Edward III (1315-1377) and Queen Philippa (1314-13690)
by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer ( 1802-1873, London)