International Exhibitions / The diffusion of models and promotion of trade

The Great Exhibition held in London in 1851 represented an unprecedented opportunity for European audiences to come into direct contact with a variety of Islamic art and compare artefacts. From then on, International Exhibitions played a key role, not just in disseminating works of non-European origin, but also in terms of kick-starting the production of artefacts and furniture inspired by the Arab world and the Ottoman Empire. The universal exhibitions offered ordinary visitors two remarkable experiences: first, it was a chance for those who had never travelled to faraway places to experience an exotic, fantastic world, which was made to feel absolutely “real” within the bazaars and the various national pavilions; and second, audiences were kept up to date with the trends in Orientalism by exhibits of the most sought after new craft and industrial products, displayed alongside the original artefacts intended for collectors. Deck and Maw ceramics, Castellani jewellery and Salviati glassware are only some of the numerous, well-known names exhibiting pieces at the time.

Working NumberNameHolding MuseumDateMaterialsCurator Justification
UK 156PrintVictoria and Albert Museum1867 (printed)Chromolithograph on paperThe English architect Owen Jones designed this menu card for a banquet commemorating the exhibition held in Paris in 1867. International Exhibitions played an important role in introducing ornamental styles from abroad; the design of this card echoes illuminated Persian manuscripts, which Jones included in his book The Grammar of Ornament.
UK 049Assyrianising pendantThe British Museum1865–1870Gold, glass, mosaicThe jewellery created by Alessandro and Augusto Castellani, exhibited at several International Exhibitions, was inspired by antique Etruscan, Greek and Middle Eastern jewellery. The Castellani were among the founders of the Museo Artistico Industriale in Rome.
PD 054Furniture room of Giuseppe ParvisImage taken from: www.antichitasantoro.com1881Giuseppe Parvis unveiled his “Arab Lounge” at the Exhibition held in Milan in 1881. He drew on his knowledge of Egypt when presenting his fashionable furnishings, attending Exhibitions in Vienna (1873), Philadelphia (1876) and Paris (1878).
IT2 045BookmarkThe House of Antique Tin Boxes1911CardboardChocolate is often linked with the idea of the “exotic” in Africa and Egypt, as in this case. This bookmark, shaped like a scimitar, was produced by the Talmone Chocolate Company as part of its advertising during the exhibition held in Turin in 1911. It makes use of a ubiquitous “exotic” Egyptian style that would have been very familiar to audiences of the era.