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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


The Great Exhibition, 1851: Large Centrepiece in Silver by Wagner and Sons


Salted paper print | 22.0 x 16.5 cm (image) | RCIN 2800076

Photograph of a silver centrepiece. The centrepiece consists of a plinth, supported by lions, upon which are represented figures of the human race in its primitive condition, seated and grouped at the foot of an oak tree and accompanied by animals and implements characteristic of the chase, of pastoral life, and of fishing. Above these, three female figures, standing against a pillar, represent Agriculture, Horticulture, and the cultivation of the vine. The figures suport a bowl, the sides of which are formed in repoussé work, and decorated with numerous figures of children, or small genii of industry, the sciences and the arts forming animated compositions. From the centre of the bowl rises a plam tree, surmounted by a winged figure, representing the genius of civilization, and the subduer of evil, which is typified by an expiring hydra. This was part of the display was by Wagner and Sons at the 1851 Great Exhibition.

This photograph is from Volume III (RCIN 2800002) of ' Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, 1851: Reports by the Juries on the Subjects in the Thirty Classes into which the Exhibition was Divided'. The incredibly successful Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, commonly known as the Great Exhibition, ran from May to October 1851. At the exhibition's conclusion, over 100 copies of the four volume 'Reports by the Juries' were distributed to foreign governments and notable participants. The reports consist of the juries' comments and assessments of the works displayed in the exhibition. The idea and decision to illustrate the reports with photographs is attributed to Prince Albert (1819-61).

  • Creator(s)

    Claude-Marie Ferrier (1811-89) (photographer)

  • 22.0 x 16.5 cm (image)

  • 'Large centre-piece in silver'

  • Presented to Queen Victoria

  • Subject(s)
    • Arts, Recreation, Entertainment & Sport
      • Plastic arts
        • Metal arts
        • Sculpture
    • Natural Sciences & Mathematics
      • Chemistry
        • Metals
          • Silver
      • Zoology
        • Animals
          • Mythical creatures
            • Hydras (Mythical creatures)
          • Mammals
            • Carnivorous mammals
              • Felines
                • Lions
    • Religion & Theology
      • Religions and faiths
        • Religions of antiquity
          • Classical mythology