Archive for the Egyptomania Category

Save the Glasgow Egyptian Hall!

Posted in 19th Century, Alexander "Greek" Thomson, Egyptian Revival, Egyptomania, Pittsburgh on April 26, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Dear Readers, the hands of time are cruel enough without bulldozers leveling works of great beauty.

At this moment the very beautiful and very fallen Egyptian Hall of Glasgow faces a very uncertain future.

This gorgeous building designed by famed Glasgow architect Alexander\”Greek\” Thomson may be condemned as shortly as this summer, if so the building will be demolished. There is interest in restoration, please sign this Facebook petition to make that a reality.

Egyptian Hall

84-100 Union St. Glasgow, UK

Egyptian Halls completed in  1873 is a four storey warehouse that apparently sits empty or partially vacant. For more information concerning the building’s condition follow this Buildings at Risk link. In its present condition Thomson’s jewel is prey to time, vandalism and vulgar greed.

Alexander “Greek”Thomson

b. 9th April 1817

d. 22nd March 1875

Thomson was quite a prolific architect, working outside of the Gothic Revival tradition. His work was  diverse, from warehouse to church, unfortunately many have been lost or severely compromised.

The very marvelous Caledonia Road Church now sits as a ruin, a forlorn testament to Thomson’s inventiveness.I particularly admire the unconventional placement of the tower.

Quite a marvel,

now a shambles.

Don’t let this happen (or worse) happen to Egyptian Hall!

For more information concerning Thomson’s work please follow this informative link, you would also do well to check out the Alexander \”Greek\” Thomson Society.

My readers are probably familiar with Thomson’s incredible Millbrae Crescent. It appears to have been built posthumously.

Millbrae Crescent

started 1876

completed 1877

I must state I have never been to Glasgow, I have never seen Thomson’s bit of Egyptomania, I hope I will have the chance.

My experiences with the fanciful Egyptian revival have been within the States.

In Pittsburgh’s gorgeous Allegheny Cemetery the Winter mausoleum was a favorite landmark on my weekly jog through this fantastic necropolis.


I am not able to forget the wonderful Egyptian Theatre right here in Hollywood, often lost to the dazzle of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

It hasn’t been terribly long since these fine buildings were constructed, how can Egyptian Hall be in such peril? 

It would be tragic to lose the little that has survived of Thomson’s work.

So again, please sign the petition.

Thank you ,

Babylon Baroque

Exoticism @ the Centennial Exhibition, part II

Posted in 19th cent., architecture, Centennial Exhibition, Egyptomania, Japonism, Philadelphia, Sculpture on August 5, 2010 by babylonbaroque

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?


by Enrico Braga

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


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.