Summary

View of the Fine Art Gallery display in the French Court, on the southern wall of the eastern nave in the Great Hall at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition held at the Exhibition Buildings, Carlton Gardens, between 1 October 1880 and 30 April 1881.

The picture galleries of the various countries were situated on the first floor balconies of the main Exhibition Building. The French Court was next to the Italian, on the southern wall of the Building, and comprised about 240 oil paintings, as well as works of marble statuary, bronzes and tapesty.

Among the works exhibited was Jules Lefebvre's 'Chloe', which was subsequently sought by the Trustees of the National Gallery but, after causing controversary because of the subject's nudity, was purchased Sir Thomas Fitzgerald before passing to Mr. H. Young, proprietor of Young & Jacksons Hotel on Swanston Street, who purchased it from the trustees of the late Sir Thomas for £800 in 1909. It is now one of Melbourne's most recognisable paintings, and remains on display at Young & Jacksons.

This is one of sixty-one photographs in a presentation photograph album titled '1880 Melbourne International Exhibition' presented to Thomas B. Hill. Hill was the Assistant Secretary of the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition. This leather bound album was given to Hill, and all the Exhibition Commissioners, by the Exhibition Trustees. The photographer is believed to be Ludovico Hart, acting on a private commission from the Exhibition Trustees.

Description of Content

International Exhibition at Exhibition Building, Melbourne, 1880: interior view showing the Fine Arts section in the French court.

Physical Description

Monochrome, gold-toned, silver gelatin photograph in a black leather bound album with decorative gold tooled border and gold tooled lettering in centre of front cover. Inside, 61 monochrome photographic plates showing exterior and interior views of the 1880 International Exhibition, held at the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne. Each photograph is mounted on heavy buff coloured card and has a simple black line border with a title beneath the photograph.

Significance

The Royal Exhibition Building has played an important role in Melbourne's social commercial and sporting life since it was built for the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880. The building's size and scale provide us with a physical example of 'boom-time' Melbourne in 1880. The international exhibitions of the late 1800s provided the fledgling Australian colonies with a forum in which to showcase their progress in commerce and industry to the world. This album is significant for its detailed visual record of the first international exhibition held in Melbourne. It has clear views of the colonial & international courts, as well as specific prominent exhibits. It also provides a contemporary view of the Exhibition Building interior and exterior in the year it was constructed.

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