Wednesday, March 26, 2014

To Serve and Project: A Souvenir of the Great Exhibition, 1851

This beautiful transfer-printed plate comes alive from the use of underglaze colors, depicting an interior view of the sculpture court of the 1851 Exhibition Building.  The top of the plate is inscribed “INTERIOR VIEW OF THE CRYSTAL PALACE."  The border is painted green with a gilt edge and scrolling adornment.

The Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations-- known more commonly as the Great Exhibition--took place in London from May 1 to October11, 1851 and served as a regal spectacle showcasing the manufactures wares of more than thirty British Colonies, allowing a celebration of the commercial and artistic wealth of Britain.  The location itself was a triumph of British skill  and ingenuity--Joseph Paxton’s revolutionary glass building; the Crystal Palace.

This plate was one of many items produced for the months-long event, intended as an affordable souvenir which could be purchased by any of the millions of visitors to the Exhibition.   It has been preserved in the Victoria & Albert Museum along with a good many of the actual items displayed in the Crystal Palace.  

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