|Dates:||1 – 24 Aug 1820|
|Theme:||Rebuilding Ghent/Flanders industry|
|Awards:||13 gold, 78 silver, 112 bronze|
|Legacy:||Ten years later Ghent became part of Belgium|
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the textile industry flourished in Ghent. Lieven Bauwens, smuggled the industrial and factory machine plans out of England to introduce the first mechanical weaving machine on the European continent in 1800.
Tthe Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 had placed this part of Flanders within the Austrian Netherlands.
The Treaty of Ghent, negotiated here and adopted on Christmas Eve 1814, formally ended the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States (the North American phase of the Napoleonic Wars). In 1815, after the Battle of Waterloo, the Congress of Vienna placed Ghent and Flanders as a part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and this lasted for 15 years.
There had been an earlier small event in 1803 at Ghent featuring the Ghent and Flanders industries, Bonaparte had opened this event on 15 Jul 1803. The thinking for an exposition was influenced by the five French expositions in 1798, 1801, 1802, 1806 and particularly 1819.
King William I of the Netherlands, encouraged by the success of the 1819 Paris Exposition, decided to run one for his new country, and selected Ghent as the venue. It was planned to occur every five years.
It was primarily organised by the Academie royale de dessin, peinture, sculpture, architecture et gavure de Gand (Royal Academy of Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture and Stencil of Ghent) and directed by the Ghent and Flanders governments.
The issued medals had a seated woman with a shield bearing the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Netherlands, before her stands a personification of industry holding in his right arm a beehive. There is an orange tree to
the rights (see above). The obverse had a laurel wreath border with space for the individual engraving .
This exhibition focused upon Ghent’s metal industries. There was an opening procession featuring the four main guilds of Ghent and various bands. A regulation was passed to establish it was forbidden to enter the halls with parcels, baskets, walking sticks, umbrellas or with young children
There were co-located sports and music competitions. The exposition ran alongside the regular Royal Society art salon featuring living artists. Further information proves scant.
Belgium was lobbying for its independence The Belgian Revolution in 1830 split the territory forming the southern territory into an independent Belgium. 1831 saw the installation of a Belgian king, Leopold I. Leopold was in fact a German prince who had joined the Imperial Russian Army to combat Napoléon. He had previously been offered the crown of Greece but thought it too high risk. He married the future British king George IV’s only daughter Princess Charlotte of Wales and ruled Belgium for 34 years