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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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Chapter 4: Edward C. Bowra and the Chinese Submission


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Edward C. Bowra and the Chinese Submission1

We understand that the collection of the Chinese customs at the Exhibition has been presented to the National Museum at Vienna. This is a very fitting conclusion to the very handsome manner in which everything has been done by the Commission, but we cannot help regretting that it has not reached London. The preponderating interest in such a collection of the productions of China – the most unique in existence – is certainly in England. Its display in the British Museum would have met this want, and would have been more accessible to Continental people than Vienna. The excellent and extensive Chinese collection of the Ven. Archdeacon Gray, of Canton, which has formed one of the principal features of attraction of the Chinese Court at the Vienna exhibition, is to be transferred, we are informed, to the Cystal Palace. This is the best possible resting place for it

— London and China Telegraph2

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