1834 Paris FR – Exposition Universelle (8th)

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1834, Paris

Name:Exposition Universelle (8th)
Dates:1 May – 30 Jun 1834
Venue:Place de la Concorde
Theme:For national prestige and the advancement of French industry
Visitors:no data
Legacy:Guizot, ex-Minister of the Interior, revived the Académie des Sciences Morales et
, which had been suppressed by Napoleon

King Louise 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.

His reign was a compromise between monarchy and republicanism. He had agreed to guaranteed limits on his powers and prerogatives. French industrialists were not assailed by the taxation and meddling that had characterised Charles X’s reign. As a result he presdided over a relatively quiet period, becoming popular with the masses, hailed as the ‘Citizen King’ – although there were seven assassination attempts!

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.

King Louis Philippe (1773-1850)

Louise-Philippe’s reign first planned to run an exposition in 1832, but the riots that form the backcloth to Hugo’s Les Miserables intruded. The three expositions of his reign occured in 1834, 1839 and 1844. For these he was supported by the French historian, orator, and statesman, 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, forced the debate between art and industry. The application of the
decorative arts into mass production processes required new materials and a new workforce. The exposition was an ideal venue to confront these issues and broaden the debate.

Illustration used for 1834 Exposition

Planned originally for 1832 this eighth Paris event was delayed by the 1832 Paris revolution and by cholera. The revolution inspired Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Miserables’, the cholera epidemic took 20,000 Parisians.

Pavilions on the Place de la Concorde

Four pavilions were specially 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), arranged to have four aisles and totalling 13,288 sq m (143,031 sq ft). The temporary pavilions proved to have serious problems with leaks.

Illustration of an 1834 pavilion

There were nine classes – food, health, textiles, social amenities, home products, education,
scientific, transportation and arts sensitifs (products for the five human senses) – no Fine Arts!

Zuber manufacturing of Mulhausen
prize-winning wallpaper series,
Scenes from North America

If you were seeking a statue was it a social amenity, an arts sensitif, a home product or educational? This well-meaning innovation led to chaos in the layout of the exposition. The public found the organisation of the exhibits haphazard and unfathomable, one visitor said it was complete pell-mell.

1834 bronze medal for the useful arts

The 2,447 exhibitors were presented with 1,785 awards.

Special attractions at this event were ‘India rubber’ and steam engines. A tapestry made from cat skins created interest and moral indignation in equal measure.

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