The Great Exhibition was held in Hyde Park, London, from May to 15 October 1851. Henry Cole and Prince Albert, husband of Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom, organized the event. Britain’s primary motive was to clear its industrial leadership role to the world following the highly influential French Industrial Exposition of 1844. An enthusiastic promoter of the self-funding Exhibition, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort, persuaded the government to form the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 to determine its viability. Britain sought to prove its superiority at the Great Exhibition. Several countries from around the world had the opportunity to display their achievements. Exhibitors listed in the official catalog of the event came from across Great Britain, its ‘Colonies and Dependencies,’ and 44 ‘Foreign States.’ During the exposition, the British dominated almost every field relating to strength, durability, utility, and quality, whether iron and steel, machinery, or textiles. Britain, as host, took up half of the exhibition space inside, with exhibits from the home country and its empire. The biggest of all was Stevenson’s massive hydraulic press that lifted metal tubes of a bridge at Bangor. Britain hoped to demonstrate to Europe that technology, specifically its own, was the key to a better future after “two decades of political and social upheaval.” Over six million people had passed through the turnstiles by the time the Exhibition closed on 11 October. The Exhibition made a profit of £186,000, which was used to create the South Kensington museums.
The show was in a particular building called “The Great Shalimar.” Joseph Paxton designed it with the assistance of structural engineer Charles Fox, and the committee overseeing its construction included Isambard Kingdom Brunel and completed it in nine months. Paxton used the experience he gained designing greenhouses for the sixth Duke of Devonshire to create an architecturally adventurous building. Cast iron-frame components and glass made almost exclusively in Birmingham and Smethwick were used to construct a massive glass house measuring 1848 feet by 454 feet (approximately 563 meters by 138 meters). In the interior, the structure’s immense size was highlighted with trees and statues; this served as a visual illusion and a demonstration of man’s victory over nature. The Crystal Palace was a great success, considered an architectural marvel, and an engineering triumph that demonstrated the importance of the Exhibition.
The press was operated by just one man, despite each tube weighing 1,144 tons. Steam-hammers were next in size, capable of forging the main bearing of a steamship with equal accuracy or gently cracking eggs. There were adding machines that might put bank clerks out of a job; and a ‘sportsman’s knife’ with eighty blades from Sheffield. There were stained glass windows in one of the upstairs galleries, through which the sunlight streamed in technicolor. Axminster carpets and Coventry ribbons were almost as colorful. A fire engine with Canadian scenes painted on the panels and a trophy of furs were sent by Canada. India contributed a magnificent ivory throne, a coat embroidered with pearls, emeralds, and rubies, as well as a magnificent howdah and trappings for a rajah’s elephant. (The elephant wearing it came from an English museum of stuffed animals.) There was an eagle with its wings outstretched and a drapery of the Stars and Stripes flanking one of the many organs in the building as the centerpiece of the American display.
The Exhibition was primarily intended to promote world peace, but Colt’s repeating firearms and McCormick’s reaping machine were prominently displayed. Hiram Power’s white marble statue of an enslaved Greek wearing nothing but a small chain attracted the most attention. France was the most significant foreign contributor. There were sumptuous tapestries on display, porcelain from Sevres and silks from Lyons, enamels from Limoges, and furniture from Limoges. The French display had a striking visual impact, unlike many British exhibits in the same class, which lacked taste. These beautiful objects were accompanied by examples of the machinery used to make them. The Russian exhibits did not arrive on time due to ice in the Baltic. When they did come, they were superlative. They included giant urns and vases made of porcelain and malachite twice the size of a man, as well as furs and sleds and Cossack armor. The Chilean government sent a 50 kg lump of gold, while Switzerland sent gold watches. Two wonders caught the public’s attention among all these. The first was the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond. The safe was shaped like a large parrot cage, and sometimes little gas jets illuminated it, but it failed to sparkle. This jewel became a part of the Crown Jewels after skillfully cut it. Another was a collection of small stuffed animals presented in whimsical tableaux, such as kittens taking tea, sent by the German Customs Union. (Germany was still a collection of small states at the time.) With the British public’s unerring bad taste, admiring crowds were always present.
Benjamin Brecknell Turner was one of the first British amateur photographers. Originally a painter, he took up photography in 1849. Using William Henry Fox Talbot's (1800-1877) calotype process to make large format waxed paper negatives, Turner produced some of the finest early photographs of rural England, working very much in the tradition of English watercolour artists.
A popular feature of the Crystal Palace was a series of 'courts', each illustrating the art and architecture of a great period in history. Wyatt and architect Owen Jones collaborated on the design of these courts. The most spectacular of these was the Egyptian Court, complete with sphinxes and enormous statues. After housing the Great Exhibition in 1851 the Crystal Palace was dismantled in Hyde Park and rebuilt on a site at Sydenham, south east London, reopening in June 1854.
Crowds gather for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Joseph Paxton (1801-1865) designed what Punch named Crystal Palace, the first large-scale prefabricated ferrovitreous (iron and glass) structure, a feature which later aided its dismantling. Here, the building is shown seen from the front, one of the giant elms visible through the glass.
Chromolithograph from 'Recollections of the Great Exhibition of 1851' by C T Dolby. On show at De la Rue s stand at the Great Exhibition is an enveloping machine, coloured paper, boxes and cards, and examples of printing and bookbinding. To the right of the stand a Spicer s paper roll is hanging down. On the left hand side Langley Bank s twin geometrical staircase to the galleries beyond can be seen. The 'Great Exhibition of the Works of the Industry of all Nations' was conceived by Prince Albert (1819-1861). The Crystal Palace, designed by Joseph Paxton (1801-1865), was purpose-built for the occasion. It was the first large-scale prefabricated ferrovitreous (iron and glass) structure.
Conceived by Prince Albert, the Great Exhibition was intended to showcase the 'Works of the Industry of all Nations'. It was housed in the purpose-built Crystal Palace, the first large-scale prefabricated ferrovitreous (iron and glass) structure, designed by the landscape designer, Joseph Paxton. The prefabricated design made the construction, and later dismantling of the building, easier and quicker.
The Crystal Palace was built to house the 'Great Exhibition of the Works of the Industry of all Nations', conceived by Prince Albert (1819-1861). This was the first large-scale prefabricated ferrovitreous (iron and glass) structure and was designed by the landscape designer Joseph Paxton (1801-1865). The prefabricated design made the construction, and later dismantling, easier and quicker.
Published in 1854, this book contains lithographed copies of original paintings by Nash, Haghe and Roberts, commissioned by Prince Albert (1841-1910). The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, held in 1851, was the first industrial exhibition. It was housed in the spectacular Crystal Palace, designed by Joseph Paxton (1803-1865) and built in London's Hyde Park. Over 100,000 exhibits were shown from around the world.
UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 19: Illustrated plate taken from Dickinsons 'Comprehensive Pictures of The Great Exhibition' (1854) depicting either the Opening Ceremony, or just after it. At the junction of the India stand a Crystal glass fountain is visible, and in the foreground visitors sit or parade among the tropical plants, elm tress, greenery and exhibits. The Crystal Palace was built to house the 'Great Exhibition of the Works of the Industry of all Nations', conceived by Prince Albert (1819-1861). This was the first large-scale prefabricated ferrovitreous (iron and glass) structure and was designed by the landscape designer, Joseph Paxton (1801-1865). The prefabricated design made the construction, and later dismantling, easier and quicker.
Prominent objects on the stand included a model of the 'Falls of Niagara', the 'Rider' iron truss bridge and a vulcanised India Rubber trophy, 'Goodyear'. The Crystal Palace was built to house the 'Great Exhibition of the Works of the Industry of all Nations', an idea conceived by Prince Albert (1819-1861).