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Sketch for a Large Picture in Progress, Representing Allegorically the Great Industrial Meeting of all Nations, A.D. 1851
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Sketch for a Large Picture in Progress, Representing Allegorically the Great Industrial Meeting of all Nations, A.D. 1851


Description Exhibitions Credit
Description This painting is an allegory of the first World’s Fair—officially named the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, but popularly referred to as the Great Exhibition of 1851. Six million visitors attended this event held in London, and its success inspired other countries to host their own versions of these international gatherings. William T. Walters and his son Henry frequently added to their collections at these fairs. Tenniel submitted this work to the annual exhibition of the Royal Academy as a “sketch,” hoping that a commission for a large-scale mural would result, but none materialized. In the foreground, a mass of figures represent different nations, and camels, oxen, and horses drag and carry crates, bundles, and trestles full of luxury items. Two groups headed by figures personifying European nations make their way up steps that lead to a central platform. At the top of the composition are Britannia (representing Britain) and a figure symbolizing Peace, who look down over the scene. The painting makes very clear the imperialism and assumed racial hierarchies that underpinned the first World’s Fair, as well as those that followed.
Exhibitions
  • Majolica Mania. The Bard Graduate Center, New York; The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2022.
Credit Museum purchase, 2019

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Period
1851
Medium
oil on canvas
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
37.2939
Measurements
H: 22 1/2 × W: 42 in. (57.15 × 106.68 cm); Framed: 32 1/2 × 50 1/2 × 2 in. (82.55 × 128.27 × 5.08 cm)

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