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Imagined Cosmopolis

Internationalism and Cultural Exchange, 1870s–1920s

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Edited By Charlotte Ashby, Grace Brockington, Daniel Laqua and Sarah Victoria Turner

The period from the 1870s to the 1920s was marked by an interplay between nationalisms and internationalisms, culminating in the First World War, on the one hand, and the creation of the League of Nations, on the other. The arts were central to this debate, contributing both to the creation of national traditions and to the emergence of ideas, objects and networks that forged connections between nations or that enabled internationalists to imagine a different world order altogether. The essays presented here explore the ways in which the arts operated internationally during this crucial period of nation-making, and how they helped to challenge national conceptions of citizenship, society, homeland and native tongue. The collection arises from the AHRC-funded research network Internationalism and Cultural Exchange, 1870–1920 (ICE; 2009–2014) and its enquiry into the histories of cultural internationalism and their historiographical implications.

This collection has been edited by members of the ICE network convened by Grace Brockington and Sarah Victoria Turner.

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13. Regional Modernity and the Global Exhibition Network: Prague’s Exhibitions of 1891 and 1895 (Marta Filipová)

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MARTA FILIPOVÁ

13   Regional Modernity and the Global Exhibition Network: Prague’s Exhibitions of 1891 and 1895

The neat, colourful arabesques and patterns, embroidered into the hem of the vibrant green fabric, the coulisses of buildings in all shapes painted from both sides, sometimes dressed up with graffiti, sometimes with paintings and statues and in the background with sculpture of a hero in metal, seated on a vigorous steed proudly holding himself up, the steep, airy dome of the majestic Palace of Industries, accompanied by the extraordinary, tall poles for electrical bulbs, and all those countless flags and pennants fluttering everywhere – as well as the crowds in high spirit swarming the broad sandy paths of this vast stage, and gilded by the smiling rays of the sun, all of this created an enchanting scenery, full of astonishing shapes, colours, glow and joyful hustle.1

These poetic words were used by the Czech journalist and writer Svatopluk Čech (1846–1908) to describe the spectacular entrance to the Jubilee Exhibition that took place in Prague in 1891. The exhibition was visited by Čech’s infamous character, Matěj Brouček, who had been previously sent by the author to the fifteenth century and to the moon, and whose adventures became the basis for an opera by Leoš Janáček (1854–1928). In a manner typical of him, Brouček took an interest not in the latest inventions and the works of art on display, which...

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