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Exhibitions and records of works of art

Prince Albert recognised the importance of photography to record and document notable exhibitions and works of art

    Great Exhibition, 1851

    Prince Albert (1819-61) was a passionate supporter of industry, technology and design. From 1849 onwards, Prince Albert played a major role in co-organising the Great Exhibition, alongside Henry Cole (1808-82) and The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. The exhibition ran from May to October 1851 and was housed in a purpose built Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, designed by Joseph Paxton (1803-65). As the first international exhibition of its kind, it showcased manufactured goods from Britain and across the empire. Six million people were estimated to have visited the exhibition, the equivalent of one-third of the British population.

    The exhibition was one of the first times photography was publically exhibited, with approximately 700 photographs shown, including daguerreotypes, calotypes and stereocards sourced from England, France, Austria and America. Prince Albert was pivotal in the decision to produce photographically illustrated presentation copies of the Reports by the Juries that detailed the exhibits. 131 copies of the four-volume edition were created, with each copy containing 154 individually printed and mounted prints. This endeavour was unique in its time. Photographs from this important publication series can be explored below.