Selous Queen ictoria opening Gt. Exhibition lge

Samuel Bellin after Henry Courtney Selous   Thos. Boys  London 1856
25 x 36" (63.5 x 91.5 cm) frame 31 x 41"  Ref.Slurps 1/ANN/ ando> OLN   PRICE CODE D 
 Original copper engraving, stipple and mezzotint (mixed media), Some water staining. Period glazing & gilt-wood frame 

From May to October 1851, Hyde Park in London was filled with visitors to the ‘Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations’. The exhibition’s huge success confounded the predictions of its many doubters in parliament and the press: it was visited by over six million people (equivalent to a third of the British population at that date), and generated a vast profit of £186,000. 
The greatest challenge the commission, headed by Prince Albert, faced was to design and construct a large enough exhibition building in a little more than twelve months. A design competition was staged , attracting nearly 250 entries but all wee rejected including the committee’s attempt to produce its own composite plan was also unsuccessful. Failure was averted by a proposal from Joseph Paxton, who had designed a number of innovative glass houses for his employer, the duke of Devonshire. Paxton’s scheme was for a gigantic pre-fabricated building of iron and glass – nicknamed the ‘Crystal Palace’ by Punch magazine, and known by that name ever since. 
Work on the building began in August 1850 and was completed in nine months.The 1851 exhibition was the first ever international exhibition of manufactured products.
The official opening of the Great Exhibition held in Crystal Palace, Hyde Park London 1851 was HRH. Prince Albert's triumph. H.M. the Queen and various members of the Royal Family were in attendance. As were numerous dignitaries from participating countries and members of the government, many being depicted in this scene, plus a crowd of more than 25,000 people. The Royal party are seen standing upon a raised dais, placed against a background within the North Transept of Crystal Palace, before one of the natural mature trees which were enclosed and incorporated into Paxton's long gallery. The exhibition, which was an outstanding success, exhibited the best examples of wares, artistic works, goods and scientific inventions from across the Empire and around the World.
The identity of the man in Chinese dress who stands in the group on the right of the painting with foreign commissioners and chairmen of juries has been subject to debate, as no official Chinese delegation attended the opening of the Great Exhibition.  His name is given as Hee Sing, a contemporary note records, that he 'happened to be present on the occasion', implying that he had no official position in the opening ceremony. However, it has recently been suggested that this man can be identified as Mr Xisheng (alternative spelling Hesing), who arrived in England in 1848 onboard the first Chinese ship to have entered British waters, (V& A Website)  Some contemporary articles refer to him as Mandarin of rank.
The Great Exhibition of 1851 was probably the most successful, memorable and influential cultural event of the 19th century.  


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