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The Art of Monarchy

A collaboration with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Dickinson : 114 New Bond Street (fl.1850s-1870s)

Dickinsons' Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851 published 1854

RCIN 817111

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In his capacity as President of the Society of Arts, Prince Albert set up a committee to organise exhibitions with the aim of improving British industrial design. An exhibition in Birmingham in 1849 was followed by the first truly international exhibition, the Great Exhibition of Products of Industry of All Nations, held in Joseph Paxton’s ‘Crystal Palace’ in Hyde Park, London, in the summer of 1851. Six million people visited the exhibition to see over 100,000 exhibits from around the world, divided broadly into raw materials, machinery, manufactures and the fine arts; Queen Victoria herself visited no fewer than thirty-four times. The substantial profits were used to establish the South Kensington Museum, renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1899.

Prince Albert played a leading role in planning the Great Exhibition, and commissioned a series of watercolours to record the occasion which were then reproduced by lithogrphy and chromolithography, a new mechanical colour-printing process in keeping with the aims of the exhibition itself.