[Illustration: Bookcase in Carved Wood. Designed and Manufactured by Messrs. Jackson & Graham, London, 1851 Exhibition.]
[Illustration: Grand Pianoforte. In Ebony inlaid, and enriched with Gold in relief. Designed and Manufactured by Messrs. Broadwood, London. 1851 Exhibition]
From 1851 to the Present Time.
THE GREAT EXHIBITION: Exhibitors and contemporary Cabinet Makers—Exhibition of 1862, London; 1867, Paris; and subsequently—Description of Illustrations—Fourdinois, Wright, and Mansfield—The South Kensington Museum—Revival of Marquetry—Comparison of Present Day with that of a Hundred Years ago—AEstheticism—Traditions—Trades-Unionism—The Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society—Independence of Furniture—Present Fashions—Writers on Design—Modern Furniture in other Countries—Concluding Remarks.
In the previous chapter attention has been called to the success of the National Exhibition in Paris of 1849; in the same year the competition of our manufacturers at Birmingham gave an impetus to Industrial Art in England, and there was about this time a general forward movement, with a desire for an International Exhibition on a grand scale. Articles advocating such a step appeared in newspapers and periodicals of the time, and, after much difficulty, and many delays, a committee for the promotion of this object was formed. This resulted in the appointment of a Royal Commission, and the Prince Consort, as President of this Commission, took the greatest personal interest in every arrangement for this great enterprise. Indeed, there can be no doubt, that the success which crowned the work was, in a great measure, due to his taste, patience, and excellent business capacity. It is no part of our task to record all the details of an undertaking which, at the time, was a burning question of the day, but as we cannot but look upon this Exhibition of 1851 as one of the landmarks in the history of furniture, it is worth while to recall some particulars of its genesis and accomplishment.
The idea of the Exhibition of 1851 is said to have been originally due to Mr. F. Whishaw, Secretary of the Society of Arts, as early as 1844, but no active steps were taken until 1849, when the Prince Consort, who was President of the Society, took the matter up very warmly. His speech at one of the meetings contained the following sentence:—
“Now is the time to prepare for a great Exhibition—an Exhibition worthy of the greatness of this country, not merely national in its scope and benefits, but comprehensive of the whole world; and I offer myself to the public as their leader, if they are willing to assist in the undertaking.”
[Illustration: Lady’s Escritoire, In White Wood, Carved with Rustic Figures. Designed and Manufactured by M. Wettli, Berne, Switzerland. 1851 Exhibition, London.]