27/11/2022

1855 Paris FR – Exposition Universelle

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1855 Paris

Name:Exposition Universelle – aka L’Exposition du siècle
Dates:15 May – 15 Nov 1855
Days:185 days
Venue:Le Palais de l’industrie, Champs-Elysées – 16 ha (39.5 acres)
Theme:Agriculture, Industry and Art, International peace and cooperation
Exhibitors:23,954 from 53 countries and 22 colonies. There were 2,000 exhibitors from Britain/Ireland
Awards:
Visitors:5,162,330 – this was the first Paris exposition to charge an admission (20 centimes – 2 francs). Of these 900,000 visitors only attended the Beaux-Arts section.
Legacy:The costs for this event were 11.3m francs, leading to a loss of 8.1m francs. The Palais
de l’industrie was used until 1897, then was replaced by the Grand Palais, built on the same site, in time for the 1900 World Fair.

The French had watched with envy the success of London’s Great Exhibition. Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, the nephew and heir of Napoléon I was elected as President of the French Second Republic from 1848-1852 (the youngest elected President until Macron). He then organised a coup d’état and declared himself Emperor Napoléon III of the Second French Empire on the 48th anniversary of his uncle’s coronation. He was emperor from 1852-1870 which still makes him the longest-serving French head of
state since the French Revolution.

Haussman’s renovation of Paris

Napoléon III’s imperial regime was harsh with censorship and imprisonments drove many, including Victor Hugo, into exile. However, it was Napoléon III who pushed through a major renovation of Paris including Haussman’s grande croisée de Paris, a great crossroad at the centre of Paris, and a network of boulevards to connect the grand boulevards from the Louis XVIII restoration. Napoléon also pressed Haussmann to complete his work on the Rue de Rivoli before the exhibition opened.

Napoléon wanted his countrymen to surpass the 1851 British event both to consolidate his new political status and to assert France’s place in the world. This twelfth event was to be the first that was planned to be intentionally international.

Design of the Palais

Napoléon arranged for the design of a stone-built Palais de l’Industrie 259m (850 ft) x 107m (350 ft), seeking to eclipse the Crystal Palace, The Palais, on the Champs-Élysées, was designed by architect Jean-Marie-Victor Viel.

Le Palais de l’industrie

Interest proved high enough to require additional buildings to be added. The
Galerie des Machines and the Palais des Beaux-Arts, showing 5,000 pieces from twenty-nine countries.

Colonial pavilion at the 1855 exposition

There were 23,954 exhibitors, drawn from 53 countries and 22 colonies. 2,000 of these exhibitors were from Britain/Ireland.

There were 5,162,330 visitors to the event. It was the first Paris exposition that charges an admission (20 centimes – 2 francs). Of these visitors 900,000 only attended for the Palais des Beaux-Arts. Attendance was lower than for London’s Great Exhibition despite the Paris event remaining open on Sundays.

Palais internal view, 1855

Novelties at the show were said to be aluminium, electro-plating and cement (but didn’t the Romans have the latter?).

Bordeaux poster

Notably it was at Napoléon’s insistence that the leading wine industry brokers were asked to rank the
Bordeaux wines that were to be on display at the exhibition. They did this by ranking them in importance
from the first to the fifth growths or crus. This became the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, a
stepping stone towards the introduction in 1936 of the AOP system (Appellation d’Origine Protégée).

Forward to 1856, Brussels BE – International Exhibition
Forward to next Paris event – 1867
Back to 1855, New York US – American Institute of the City of New York (27th)
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