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 seventy-six photographs in a photograph album. Twenty-six photographs are of the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition. The photographs provide us with important visual evidence about the gardens around the Exhibition Building, and interior exhibits, including detailed images of the British Art Court, the ceramic and pottery exhibits in the Main Hall, and the appearance of the Avenue of Nations. The photographs are taken from glass plates and retain an excellent level of clarity and detail.

The album also contains a number of photographs in the 'Frith's Series', taken by British photographer Francis Frith, or members of his staff, of Gibraltar, and villages and towns in Britain.

Description of Content

International Exhibition, Melbourne, 1880. Interior view of the Exhibition Building showing the French Fine Arts Gallery on the mezzanine level. The artworks on display includes the painting Chloe.

Physical Description

Albumen photograph mounted on buff-coloured card in red, cloth-covered, photograph album with decorative gold tooled border and gold tooled lettering in centre of front cover.

Significance

Part of photograph album containing a number of previously-unknown images documenting displays in the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition in the Exhibition Building.

The images give visual evidence about the products displayed, the display techniques used, and the interior and exterior of the Exhibition Building in 1880, and as such, are a valuable addition to the collection of graphic and other material relating to the history of the Royal Exhibition Building.

The Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880 was the first event held in the new Exhibition Building. It showcased recent inventions, art and design trends to the Melbourne public, and allowed Victorians to promote themselves and their industry and achievements to a national and international audience. The exhibition attracted over a million visitors, and ran for several months. Its long-term results were changes in Melburnian's domestic tastes, increased trading opportunities with Europe, and a growth in Australian pride and national feeling.

See 'Notes' for information about the names of possible photographers who may have taken these images.

The album also contains a number of photographs in the 'Frith's Series', taken by British photographer Francis Frith (1822 - 1898) or members of his staff, of Gibraltar, and villages and towns in Britain. There are also large-format images and are of value for the Museum's 'History of Photography' collection. It appears as if Frith did not visit Australia; and the photographs of the Exhibition do not bear any signature from his company.

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