5.5 French events 1811-1850

© Bob Denton 2018
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None of the above events should suggest that French influence paused during this period, it ran five events during this period and continued its influence despite its political structure constantly changing.

5.5.1  King Louis Philippe I events:

King Louis Philippe was a member of the cadet branch of the French royal family, a cousin of King Louis XVI. He had fled France during the Revolution spending more than twenty years in exile, while his father was arrested and executed. Following the ‘July Revolution’ Charles X was forced to abdicate and, though Charles wanted his grandson to succeed him, it was Louise Philippe I who ascended in 1830.

King Louis Philipp

The new king conquered Algeria and sought friendship with Britain. When economic conditions proved difficult in 1847 he too would be forced to abdicate following the ‘Revolution of 1848’. His earlier approach was rewarded as he was able to spend his exile in Britain. However, he was able first to enjoy a relatively quiet period, as he was popular with the masses, hailed as the ‘Citizen King’ – although there were seven assassination attempts!

Louise-Philippe’s reign saw three expositions (1834, 1839, 1844) for these he was supported by François Guizot.

François Guizot

An 1833 ordnance was passed to suggest that Paris should run an exposition every five years, thus other organisational decisions simply had to comply.  

Their goals were the expansion of national prestige and the advancement of French industry. The technologies highlighted by these shows were supported by the development of industrial art schools and schools of applied art that taught how to apply the creative processes to mass production. New industrial art museums were also founded to take up the theme.

5.5.1.1 1834, Paris, Exposition Universelle

See also 1834 Paris data sheet

Planned originally for 1832 this eighth Paris event was delayed two years by a combination of a cholera outbreak that took 20,000 Parisians and the 1832 Paris revolution. This revolution was the one that inspired Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Miserables’.

1834 Exposition on Place de la Concorde

Instead of siting the exposition at an existing venue four pavilions were erected at the Place de la Concorde. These pavilions were utilitarian with little external decoration. Their dimensions were 76m (249 ft) x 46m (151 ft). Each had a central courtyard, 50m (164 ft) x 21m (69 ft) and four aisles offering a total of 1.3ha, 13,288 sq m (143,031 sq ft). These had a problem with leaks.

The event ran for sixty days from 1May – 29 June. The call for exhibits asked for ‘not only […] luxury objects or products for the wealthy’ but also ‘consumer products for the masses with a […] high quality and low price’.

The show changed the classification so that there were nine – food, health, textiles, social amenities, home products, education, scientific, transportation and arts sensitifs (products for the five human senses). However, this well-meaning innovation led to chaos in the layout of the exposition. Some 2,447 exhibitors participated earning 1,785 awards. The special attractions at this event were ‘India rubber’ and steam engines. A tapestry made from cat skins attracted interest and moral indignation.

Paris 1834 medal

A report produced for the show highlighted that Britain was better industrialised. It also mentioned that ten British cities were lit by gas, whereas Paris had just a few streets equipped with gas lighting and Lyon was only promised to get some soon.

The term consommateur (consumer) had early usage at the exposition reflecting its plethora of retail products, as for example new rolls of dramatic wallpaper. This show also produced the first detailed ‘show catalogue’ with an account of each exhibitor and exhibit, diagrams and a floor-plan

5.5.1.2 1839, Paris, Exposition Universelle

See also 1839_Paris Exposition Universelle data sheet

The ninth Paris event had the benefit of a five-year period of peace for its planning. A set of eight new categories were announced as agricultural implements, ceramics, chemicals, fabrics, fine arts, metals and minerals, precision and musical instruments and miscellaneous. Each category had its own commission to recommend awards to a central jury. The jury held thirty-one meetings of four-to-six hours duration to reach their conclusions.

The exposition ran 60 days from 1May–29Jun. It was located in the Grand Carré des Fêtes ou des Jeux, on the Champs Elysées, a 200m x 100m building with a central courtyard for steam engines.

There were 3,281 exhibitors and 2,305 awards. There were many traditional products but there with only 16,500 sqm (sq ft) of space for more exhibits. Late in the process an additional hall was created to deal with the over-crowding.

The catalogue listed exhibitors and medals. This mentioned that silk worms were beginning to be raised in France. On show there were new materials like waterproof fabrics, and rubber was creating new opportunities like dummy humans for anatomical study. Manufacturing equipment continued to innovate with a new Jacquard weaving machine and Grimpé’s wood-turning machine.

Giroux’s daguerreotype camera

Daguerre’s brother-in-law, Alphonse Giroux, exhibited the world’s first commercially produced Daguerreotype camera, but the judges did not give it an award!

Ten post-show catalogues were produced, six in Paris, two in Austria (though in French), one in Sweden and one in Germany – this latter catalogue effectively prompted the 1844 Berlin event.

5.5.1.3 1844, Paris, Exposition Universelle

See also 1844 Paris data sheet

The tenth Paris event and third under Louis Philippe ran for sixty days from 1May–29Jun, again at the Grand Carré des Fêtes ou des Jeux, on the Champs Elysées. There were 3,960 exhibitors presented with 3,235 awards; at this level virtually a prize for participating..

Grand Carré des Fêtes ou des Jeux

New equipment on show included machines that drilled for water, processes to transform sea-water into fresh water, heating equipment and better systems for electroplating silver and gold.

Paris 1844

Manufacturers from the Paris environs predominated but there were also products from Bordeaux, Toulouse and the Rhine region, however high tariffs meant there were no foreign products on show.

1844 medals

Notably Adolphe Sax presented a copy of his Saxhorn and Charles Xavier Thomas of Colmar presented his Arithmomètre (or Arithmometer) a significant and early mechanical calculator. It was said that British visitors were embarrassed by the cosmetics and wigs displayed at Paris.

5.5.2  1849, Paris, Exposition of the Second Republic (see page E23)

See also 1849 Paris Exposition data sheet

Paris 1849 Exposition courtyard (Les Invalides in the background)

This, the eleventh Paris event, ran for sixty days from 1May-30Jul, under the rule of Emperor Napoléon III. Again held in the Grand Carré des Jeux on the Champs Elysées, it had 22,000 sq m (237,000 sq ft) of temporary buildings. It attracted 5,494 exhibitors.

This was the first event that prominently featured agricultural products, there was also steam locomotives and electrical signal transmission equipment. From 1848 Algeria had become an integral part of France and therefore it exhibited textiles, marble, soaps and oil at the exhibition.

Two prizes were awarded to Warren-Thompson for heliographic processes, and to Bayard for early photographic systems.

1849 Main Exposition building
Internal illustration
Bonaparte issues prizes at the end of the exposition
Source: The London Illustrated

Henry Cole of the British Royal Society of Arts visited the 1849 event and discussed with the Society’s President, Prince Albert, that Britain should host an international event, the Prince agreed. A Royal Commission was founded to raise funds because it was agreed that it should be self-financed. The commission was soon dominated by industrial and financial leaders who were advocates of free trade, seeing the exhibition as an opportunity to demonstrate its benefits to the world, while promoting the export of British manufactures. The outcome was the 1851 Great Exhibition.

Responding to the competition, the nature of the French events became more international by the Exposition universelle in 1855.

5.5.3  1847, Bordeaux, Exposition

Many sources mention this exhibition staged in Bordeaux, they agree it happened, but no reliable source was found to provide data on dates, venue, exhibitors or visitors.

© Bob Denton 2018
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