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Showcase Britain

Britain at the Vienna World Exhibition 1873


Christina Baird

Showcase Britain explores the diverse aspects of British participation in the Vienna World Exhibition (Weltausstellung) of 1873. The exhibition covered a vast spectrum of human endeavour and achievement. The British involvement encompassed not only the national submission but also the British individuals who visited and contributed to the displays.

The book offers a snapshot of British aspirations and commerce at a singular point in history through the lens of the exhibition. The central theme is explored through various perspectives: the ceramic collections, the Fine Art collections, British connections with China, the act of collecting, the visitor experience, and the mobility and re-use of collections, with particular reference to the display from India. The British submission is compared and contrasted throughout with that of the government of Japan, a newcomer to international shows, whose collections presented a competitor to Britain’s and a focus for British acquisition and emulation. Finally, the exhibition is viewed in the wider context of international exhibitions held in London in the following decade.

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Appendix 2: W. P. Blake and H. Pettit, Reports on the Vienna Universal Exhibition, 1873


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W. P. Blake and H. Pettit, Reports on the Vienna Universal Exhibition, 18731

First, in regard to the great Rotunda: This consists of an immense conical wrought iron roof, supported on thirty-two wrought iron columns. The columns rest on base plates, laid on concrete foundations.

These columns are box-shaped in section, being 24.4 metres high; at their centre 3.05 metres deep, and 1.24 metres wide. The boxing is not continuous throughout, seven bays or openings having been left in each of the longer sides.

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