Imágenes de páginas

1853 witnessed two International Exhibitions, one at New York, the other at Dublin. The Exhibition at Cotham owed its origin to the enterprise of Mr. John Jay Smith of Philadelphia, who conceived the idea of transporting en bloc the contents of the palace of Hyde Park to New York, and exhibiting them in a building of somewhat similar construction. Modelled in the form of a Greek cross, with a central dome for occasions of ceremony, and, following its prototype of '51, constructed of glass and iron, the building itself was almost perfect both in design and execution; but the originator fell ill, and as all Napoléon's Marshals could not make the man, so when the idea passed into the hands of a joint stock company, it succumbed to circumstances, for divided counsels brought delays, and its history may be briefly written as failure and its end fire.

The International Exhibition at Dublin owed its initiative to the public spirit of William Dargan, whom his countrymen delighted in calling, from his favourite attitude, "the man with his hand in his pocket," as the local rhymes ran:

Hard work filled his coffers with gold,

For the good of mankind he'll unlock it,

For science and art, thousands freely are told

By the man with his hand in his pocket.

What William Dargan did through his long, laborious, and honourable life, forms a prominent chapter in the history of men who have risen; born in the Barony of Forth, in the county of Wexford, a spot selected by the invader, Kelt, Norman, or Cromwellian, from the days of the Milesians downwards, he, with his congeners of Wexford, stands forth as a true type of the energy begotten by the mixture of races.

A very young and also a very poor man, but God-gifted with sterling brains, indomitable pluck, and untiring industry, he carried out the contract for the construction of the first railway in Ireland, that running between Old Dunleary (now Kingstown) and Dublin, and towards the close of his career, he devoted his wealth to the truest patriotism a man can show, not the raising up of fences across which the right hand of fellowship cannot extend, but the development of the natural resources, brains, and industry of the land of his birth.

William Dargan proposed to spend 20,000l. on a building at Dublin to receive the industries of the Nations, but as the idea grew so grew his gifts, until his contributions reached the total, unequalled for any individual for a similar purpose, of 80,000%.

The Exhibition of '53, unlike that of '51, was built mainly of wood, its site was the lawn of the Royal Dublin Society, and the general idea it gave was of five Brobdingnagian vegetable marrows laid side by side, the front presenting five ovals in roof and walls. The main hall was 425 feet in length by 100 in width, and 105 in height; and the side aisles ran in lesser proportions, there being no transept. Naturally the Exhibition as an International display could not compete with the superb congeries of '51, but in some respects it proved in advance of its time.

Thus, in its Picture Gallery, which the Art Journal described as "something astonishing," comprising as it did, not only the canvases of living artists, but the masterpieces of the old masters, it anticipated 1855. In Sculpture, it could boast of one of the two works known to have been executed by Raffaelle, an exquisite boy and dolphin in marble; the cast of this had been preserved for years with religious care in the Gallery at Dresden, the original having been supposed to be lost.

But still more was carried out in this quiet, little Exhibition in old Eblana, for in it was first instituted that "roll call" of the " History of Labour" that formed a prominent feature at Paris in 1867. The Age of Stone, illustrated by relics got together from caves, grottoes, graves, and dolmens, was shown in flint arrow-heads, kelts, and hammers; the Age of Bronze, of spear-hilts, daggers, hatchets and spears found in bogs or in the excavated remains of lacustrine dwellings, was displayed through the changing types of warring tribes until one reached a period that in the outcome of its labours would reflect credit on even the much vaunted civilisation of our times. The Gallery of Paintings must be passed over with but scant courtesy; however, as Van Dyck with his portraits of the Ormondes, Lely, Reynolds, and Hogarth, the latter in the Charlemont Gallery, including his "Gate of Calais,” were present, the series cannot be deemed uninteresting, even in our days of salons, institutes, and academies.

The apartment, for it was no more, consecrated to ancient Irish Art, furnished as complete a series as was possible of its remains. Not only did the Royal Irish Academy contribute its collection, second only in value, but not inferior in interest, to that of the Royal Museum at Copenhagen, but also through the good offices of Lord Talbot de Malahide, a kindred collection of Keltic remains was brought together from the greater sister, and thus England and Scotland was represented, in kindred examples, the Queen contributing the gold torques found in Sherwood Forest, puzzles to anti

quarians, and possibly "loots" of bold Robin Hood from some passage of pilgrims.

This Museum of Irish Antiquities was still further enriched by the collection exhibited at the meeting of the British Association at Belfast, whilst Oriental art-industry was fully exemplified by the East Indian Collection contributed by John Company," reinforced by that of the Asiatic Society, the private museum of Field Marshal Lord Gough, and a unique selection of Japanese antiquities from the museum at the Hague lent by the Dutch Government.

The hall in which these were displayed was in itself an architectural study, being divided into a nave and chancel by casts from the six-times recessed arch of Tuam Cathedral with its strange Egyptian carvings, and the east end was lighted by three large circular headed windows copied from the same edifice. The entrances were formed of carved and inscribed doorways copied from ruins in various parts of the country, and the west door by the large circular window of the eighth century taken from Rahan Cathedral. All this gave a sense of unity to the contents, comprising in addition to thevarious specimens of art work, casts from the two large crosses of Monasteraboice and four smaller originals, one from Tuam. In the cases were to be seen torques, fibulæ, bracelets, rings, bullæ, boxes, and discs, including some of the rare double-disced objects peculiar to Ireland, the use of which is not known. The mere money value of all these was immense, one of the torques weighing no less than 27 ounces, and a bracelet not less than 17, both of the purest gold. There were other objects that recalled

Old legends of the monkish page,
Traditions of the saint and sage,
Tales which have the rime of age,
And chronicles of eld.

Cumhdachs, or silver and jewelled cases of quaint workmanship, containing illuminated manuscripts of the Gospels, the Book of Armagh, date 807, Psalms attributed to St. Columba, and the Domnach Airgid set in an exquisite silver shrine. This portion of the Exhibition was most noteworthy, as it afforded an opportunity for the expert to compare the various changes in style from the handbell of St. Patrick to the golden bell of St. Senan, whose Malthusian propensities have been commemorated by Moore. This latter was peculiarly interesting, its covers dating from the earliest historic period to the beginning of the fourteenth century. Further specimens of the goldsmith's art were shown in the various reliquaries, such as the shrine of St. Manchan, the bosses of which were enriched with most intricate work,

that of St. Lachtin, in the shape of an arm, the chasing being peculiarly delicate, whilst such examples as the Tara brooch and the well-known knob brooches, the knobs formed like arbutus berries, recalled the Etruscan specimens that have taxed the ingenuity of even Signor Castellani to reproduce. All these, with ancient croziers, antique harps, like that of Brian Boroimhe, and the Regina Cithararum, or Queen of Harps, brought the past as vividly before the mind of the spectator as the Pompeïan Museum at Naples, or the collection of old Greek and Genoese antiquities at Kertch. The Roman period was illustrated by some waxed tablets with Latin inscriptions found in the bog of Maghera, county Derry, and probably once the property of some Roman legionary who relieved the tedium of his "rota" in Britain by some elk stalking in the sister island. Such were some of the lessons taught by the Dublin Exhibition of 1853; and if its contents have been dilated on somewhat at length it is solely because it first set an example which has been so largely followed, and with such beneficial results; for to the study of ancient examples, we owe much of our modern art progress. The duration of the Exhibition was from the 12th of May to the 31st October, Her Majesty, accompanied by the Prince Consort and the Prince of Wales, then a lad of twelve, visiting it in state on the 29th of August.

Munich in 1854, with her 7,005 exhibitors drawn from every part of Germany, presented a total unsurpassed until the World's gathering at Vienna in $73. The building, which still survives, designed by Herr Voit, was constructed of glass and iron, and recalls in many features the exemplar of '51, the main difference between them being the substitution of a squaretowered transept for the well-known circular roof. For a building devoted purely to national display its extent was considerable, being no less than 850 feet in length by 85 in height. In this same year a Norwegian Exhibition was held at Christiania, whilst the Latin races competed amongst themselves, the Italians at Turin and Florence, and the Spaniards at Madrid.

During all this time the French had been busily planning the details of their first International gathering. The decree appointing Commissioners for an Exposition Universelle to be held at Paris in 1855, with Prince Napoléon as President, was signed by the Emperor on the 24th December 1853. This was not to be merely an industrial congress, but an International display of arts; this "crowning of the edifice" originating with the Empress Eugénie. The main building, as all know, was the Palais de l'Industrie in the Carré Marigny, which has since witnessed so many changes, at one time welcoming the

Royalties of Europe, at another devoted to the service of contemporary art and then again desecrated to be a receptacle for a show of dogs or horses. The building, with its façade of stone, is undoubtedly an ornament to the Champs Elysées, but the builder's bill was a heavy one, amounting to no less than half a million. There were many modifications to the original design, including a rotunda, styled the panorama, set apart for the display of the jewels of the Empress and those of the Queen of Portugal, and choice specimens from the looms of the Gobelins and the ceramics of Sèvres. This building formed the bond of union between the main structure and the annexe devoted to raw produce and machinery, which extended for three-quarters of a mile along the Quai de la Conference from the Place de la Concorde to the Pont de l'Alma, abutting on the Avenue Montaigne, in which was situated the Palais des Beaux Arts.

The financial history of 1855 was an unpleasant memory, the expenses amounting to not less than a million, whilst the receipts, all told, came to but 128,0997. 88. A portion of this deficit must be set down to unreadiness, the opening taking place on the 15th of May in lieu of the 1st, and even then the several departments were inaugurated in detail, the agricultural on the 5th June, the annexe on the 10th, and the panorama no sooner than the 30th. But once fully opened, it was an undoubted success, and the smallness of the receipts may be partly attributed to the kindness of the Emperor, who set down the sums for admission on so low a basis that the poorest of his subjects could enter, there being 20 centime days, whilst on the 27th May the doors were opened gratuitously to all comers. The duration of the Exhibition was from the 15th May to the 30th November, a total of 200 days, Sundays included; the number of exhibitors was 20,839, being an increase of half on the London total of 1851, whilst the visitors attained the maximum of 5,162,330, against 6,039,195 in 1851, scoring, however, on Sunday the 9th of September, 123,017 as the greatest number, against the 109,915 registered on Tuesday, October 7th, 1851. The Fine Art Gallery was, however, the feature of the Exhibition, it being the first contemporary International display of any magnitude. Visitors to it will doubtless remember the statue of Minerva, formed of ivory, gold, and gems, and evolved from records of the marvellous work of Pheidias in the Parthenon. The original was, so say historians, 40 feet in height, this reproduction executed by M. Simart, for the Duc de Luynes, being, needless to say, of much more humble proporEach country had its separate salle, an honour conceded also to Ingrès


« AnteriorContinuar »