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Title European World Fairs’ “Palaces of Industry” on Commemorative Medals (1851-1889)
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About author Prygov, Vadim Ignatyevich — Ph. D., expert. Art Critics and Art Historian Association, B. Levshinsky per., 8/1-1-314, Moscow 119034, Russian Federation.
In the section Western European Art of the Modern Age DOI10.18688/aa188-1-9
Year 2018 Volume 8 Pages 101109
Type of article RAR Index UDK 737.23 Index BBK 85.125.4

A depiction of a “Palace of Industry” on a medal was the visual fixation of an “architectural wonder” which was intended to become home for the World Fair. For the first time in Russian historiography the article examines how the common theme was embodied by leading masters in different countries and how the artistic language and the means of expression of commemorative medals were changing at the beginning of the era of European integration.

The tradition to memorialize the significant sacred or secular buildings which were constructed under patronage of the ruler on the commemorative medals goes back to Italian Renaissance. By the 19th century almost all major achievements of European monarchs were commemorated in medals. This kind of artistic activity was considered to be an important way of glorification of the achievements of the ruler. The Universal exhibitions of the second half of the 19th century (London 1851, 1862; Paris 1855, 1867, 1878, 1889; Vienna 1873) were perceived by contemporaries as events of planetary scale. The organization, preparation, and conduct of each exhibition were patronized by the members of the Royal family or the highest officials of the state. It was crucially important to construct “palaces of industry” huge and innovative in their design. Organizers also needed to prepare the city’s infrastructure, as the number of visitors could exceed the population of the host European capital several times. The expanding of themes and the increase of exhibitors resulted in the rapid evolution from a single exposure building to complex constructions of temporary structures included into the urban landscape. Almost all of these grandiose innovative architectural projects were reflected in vast corpus of commemorative medals. The first exhibitions’ medals usually feature the depiction of the main exposition buildings accompanied with a detailed legend. They were executed by both Royal medalists A. A. Caque, H. Ponscarme, A. Scharff, and invited foreign artists J. Wiener, Ch. Massonnet and A. Bovy. Then, the plan of the whole complex of pavilions at Champ-de-Mars was shown on the reverse of the medal of the exhibition of 1867 at the end of the period of the “The Second Empire”. Architectural medals of the exhibitions of the period of “The Third Republic” (1878, 1889) are more numerous and varied. The exact plan, with a detailed legend, as well as panoramic views of the Champ-de-Mars and Trocadero complex from the height of bird flight were reproduced on their reverses. In these works, the outstanding French masters L. Bottee and J.-C. Chaplain fundamentally changed the artistic language, starting the unprecedented rise of medal art in the modern epoch.

Reference Prygov, Vadim I. European World Fairs’ “Palaces of Industry” on Commemorative Medals (1851-1889). Actual Problems of Theory and History of Art: Collection of articles. Vol. 8. Ed. S. V. Mal’tseva, E. Iu. Staniukovich-Denisova, A. V. Zakharova. — St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg Univ. Press, 2018, pp. 101–109. ISSN 2312-2129.
Publication Article language russian
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