27/11/2022

1827 Paris FR – Exposition Universelle (7th)

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1827, Paris

Name:Exposition Universelle (7th)
Dates:1 Aug – 1 Oct 1827
Days:62 days
Venue:Louvre courtyard
Theme:Despite friction with the current king, the event
continued to laud the monarchy
Exhibitors:1,695
Awards:1,254 – 74% therefore won an award!
Visitors:600,000
Legacy:Critics complained that as the products could not be directly sold that
‘return on investment’ in the exposition was difficult to justify
(they of course did not use that terminology). Reviews of the event
also commented on a lack of the normal distractions of traditional fairs.

King Charles X had come to the throne after the previous exposition, his form of absolute monarchy
would make him the last of his Bourbon line. Charles abdicated in 1830 and was superceded by Louis
Philippe I. At the time of this event there was economic stagnation due to an isolationist phase when
European countries chose not to buy from each other. Britain was still a focus. The economist Adolphe-
Jérome Blanqui prepared a contemporary report of the show which mentioned a visit to Britain where
he found British workers better housed, and manufactured products much cheaper, with standardized,
well-publicized prices, which encouraged trade and prosperity.

Louvre and its courtyard

The venue was again chosen to be the Louvre – both inside and on its courtyard. The number of exhibitors across these three ‘restoration’ expositions (1819, 1823, 1827) was 1,662, 1,642 and 1,695, indicating there was venue constraint on numbers. A dedicated hall to house exhibits was desired so that organisers need not erect temporary structures in the future – this would be finally realised in 1855.

On display at the 1827 Exposition was heavy equipment, like steam-powered plant for paper and wallpapers, as well as luxury items of internal decoration, for example a carpet fabricated from four-thousand ostrich feathers. France had believed foreign-produced musical instruments were superior to their own but by this exposition there were strong local manufacturers on show and they had begun to export them too; another success for France was in chemistry and metallurgy, new substances and processes were changing existing trades.

Gothic Cathedral Clock
by Charles François Petit

There was a focus on the Gothic revival in furniture and other decorative arts, the Petit Cathedral Clock won a gold medal. This Exposition focus was said to have prompted Victor Hugo to create Quasimodo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.

1827 Silver Medal with the
head of Charles X

The 1,695 exhibitors received 1,254 awards which means 74% of them got one.

Adolphe-Jérome Blanqui (1798-1854)

The French liberal economist, Adolphe-Jérome Blanqui, was unimpressed he attacked what he saw as the meddling, taxing incompetence of French bureaucrats who impeded French industry. He raged that, You pay to be born, you pay to live and you pay to die, you pay to move, you pay to put doors and windows in your houses, to put bread in your pantry and wine in your cellars; you pay for the privilege of sending your children to expensive colleges… in fact, if the air that we breathe could be sold by weight, there would be a directeur général charged with measuring it by weight, a budget of 50,000 francs salary, not counting business expenses.

Blanqui prepared a contemporary report of the show and included a visit to Britain where ‘he found British workers better housed, and manufactured products much cheaper, with standardized, well-publicized prices, which encouraged trade and prosperity’. He went on to complain that internal and external ‘tolls’ were making French clothes expensive and British goods more attractive. He also felt that the exposition lacked the entertainments and amusements of previous fairs. Blanqui was mostly concerned that the huge effort that went in to organising the exposition was not able to be monetised (of course not using that term).

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