1867, Paris FR – Exposition Universelle

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1867 Paris

Name:Exposition Universelle
Dates:1 Apr – 3 Nov 1867
Days:217 days
Venue:Champ-de-Mars and isle de Billancourt, linked by steamboat – 68.7 ha (170 acres) plus
50 acres in agricultural exhibits and 35 acres under cover
Theme:Industry and agriculture, handicrafts and art.
Exhibitors:52,200 from 42 countries
Awards:44 grand prizes of special merit
Visitors:6,805,969 – admissions were 50 centimes – 2 francs
Legacy:The French government subscribed 2.4m francs, the city of Paris matched this and over 4m francs came from public subscription, receipts were only half of this sum – £115,000 loss.

The French exhibitors at the London 1862 event had created a company that planned an 1863 Paris exposition to restore France’s position. This initiative would underwrite the 1867 Paris exhibition.

Quite separately, Napoleon III wanted to show off Paris to foreign guests and wanted to surpass the 1862 London International Exhibition. Later it was claimed, only the Pope was missing! The opening ceremony and ensuing theatrical performances and parties, were framed by an industrial hall built in cast iron and glass. For a little while it did detract from his political troubles.

The organisation was managed by Prince Jerome Napoléon with a General Commissioner, Frédéric Le Play, and the assistance of a young designer, Gustave Eiffel.

The London event featured a lot of stairs to an upper floor, so for 1867 this company sought a flat site and a venue on one floor. – in this they ultimately failed but provided a lift to the upper floor. Bad weather meant it was not completed when it opened on 1 Apr, which constrained early visitor numbers.

The exposition had encyclopaedic ambition, as did the French empire, it was suggested that ‘they wanted to classify and organize every branch of human activity and to invest that activity with moral purpose’.

Napoléon III receiving the great and good
1867 Palace de l’Industrie

The Palais de l’Industrie was oval in shape, 490m (1608 feet) long and 380m (1247 feet) wide, surrounding a domed pavilio. It was set in gardens, with some 100 other buildings set around the Palais. An agricultural annexe was constructed on the île de Billancourt (today’s île Saint-Germain).

1867 Swedish log cabin exhibit

There were pavilions for Algeria, Austria, Baden (the Grand Duchy of), Belgium, Brazil, British Guiana, Canada, Chile, Egypt, France, Great Britain, India, Italy, Peru, Portugal, Prussia, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Uruguay and the USA. Napoléon III designed a ‘worker’s house’ to be built at the fair as a clear symbol of his interest in bettering the lot of the lower classes (a la Prince Albert in 1851?).

1867 Floorplan

One novelty was that a child-minding facility was provided. A railway station, the Gare du Champ de Mars, was built specially for the event with a branch line linking it with the Petite Ceinture (little belt) that was a circular railway to link up the main railway stations of Paris. It was demolished shortly after the fair.

Electricity was a key theme, said to have prompted Jules Verne’s ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’.

The Fine Arts section controversially rejected works by Cézanne, Courbet, Manet, Monet and Pissaro.

The Japaness were just emerging from the Shogunate and vesting power back with its Emperor. The Satsuma and Nabeshima domains in Kyushu participated in the 1867 Paris Exposition. This experience proved to be the start of a boom in European interest in matters Japanese.

One popular exhibit was a large scale model of the Suez canal depicting ships passing through it.

Suez Pavilion in the Egyptian area – and gateway to the Turkish area

The Egyptian and Ottoman pavilions were adjacent. The Egyptian exhibit in 1867 consisted of three buildings on a street: a temple, a selamlik (a small palace), and an okel (a covered market, or caravansary). The Turkish exhibits were gathered around a square with a fountain in the centre, surrounded by buildings with symmetrical facades. Not far from the Egyptian-Ottoman complex was another Islamic section, composed of the Tunisian and Moroccan exhibitions.

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