Summary

This silver prize medal was awarded to Alexander Fletcher at the Centennial International Exhibition. Alexander Fletcher was an important but today largely unrecognised art connoisseur, picture dealer, framer, conservator and exhibition curator. Fletcher oversaw the hanging of the pictures at the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880 and sold a greater number of works than ever before at an exhibition. Fletcher also organised the fine arts at several other International and Intercolonial Exhibitions between 1880 and 1890, for which he often drew on his own collection.He sold paintings from his stock of European, British and Australian paintings to local wealthy citizens and state galleries. Artists who exhibited works included Eugene von Guerard. Fletcher's business appears to have collapsed in 1893, presumably a victim of the depression.

The Exhibition, celebrating a century of Australian settlement, surpassed even the grand scale of the1880 Melbourne International Exhibition. It attracted over two million people, but the Victorian government had to spend £250 000 on it, ten times the amount estimated. The exhibition had a distinctively imperial focus, and a greater emphasis on culture than in 1880, particularly on music and painting. A choir of 5000 sang music old and new, and 500,000 people attended symphony concerts. There were over 3000 paintings on display, including works by artists like JMW Turner and C Lutyens. The Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens was lit inside and out by electric lights, claimed to be the largest installation of arc lighting in the world.

Obverse Description

Bust of Queen Victoria facing left wearing crown and veil ; around, CENTENNIAL INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION MELBOURNE

Reverse Description

Around below wreath, MELBOURNE MINT MDCCCLXXXVIII STOKES AND MARTIN SC. within wreath around Southern Cross, ARTIBUS DIGNUS HONOR INSIGNIS

Edge Description

Impressed, ALEX. FLETCHER ESQ.

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