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On display at V&A South Kensington
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The great London exhibition of Industry 1851

Paper Peepshow
1851 (published)
Place Of Origin

The Great Exhibition in 1851 was the first international exhibition of manufactured products. Organised by Henry Cole and Prince Albert, it was held in the purpose-built Crystal Palace in Hyde Park in London. Many of the objects in the Exhibition were used as the first collection for the South Kensington Museum which opened 1857 and later became the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Exhibition spurred great international interest, and was one of the two most popular subjects of the paper peepshow in nineteenth century, the other one being the Thames Tunnel. Like the Thames Tunnel, the Great Exhibition became the topic of a large variety of souvenirs, including many optical toys.

Unlike their British counterparts, German publishers seemed much less concerned about the accuracy of the image or fine details used in the paper peepshow. The cut-out panels in this work depict the interior of the Crystal Palace as the artist imagined it might be. Yet not everything is the artist’s fantasy, and the large tree on the back panel can be identified as one of the famous ‘Sibthorpe Elms’. The ultra-Tory right-wing MP Colonel Charles de Laet Waldo Sibthorpe protested the felling of the elm trees on the proposed site for the Great Exhibition. In response, the architect Joseph Paxton simply built the Crystal Palace over the elms by fitting out the Transept with a barrel roof.

Enclosing the paper peepshow in a cartonnage box was a basic format used by German manufacturers. Also common is the practice of giving titles in German, French and English, as the publishers aimed their products at an international market.

For more information on the Great Exhibition and Crystal Palace, see here.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Brief Description
Große - Industrie - Austellung im Glas Pallaste zu London/Grand exposition industrielle au palais de verre à Londres/The great London exhibition of Industry 1851, 1851
Physical Description
Accordion-style paper peepshow of the Great Exhibition in 1851, with the view looking down the nave.



4 cut-out panels. 1 peep-hole. Hand-coloured lithograph. Expands to approximately 64 cm.



Front-face: the titles, and an external view of the Crystal Palace with staffage and a tree on either side. The peep-hole consists of a circular hole in the sky. The front-face forms the lid of a cartonnage box containing the peepshow.



Panel 1: visitors purchasing ticket to the Exhibition, with a lion sculpture on the left and a vase on the right.



Panel 2: visitors with a canopied exhibit on the left and a mirror on the right.



Panel 3: visitors with a globe on the right.



Panel 4: visitors with an armoured mannequin on the right.



Back panel: visitors in the centre of the Crystal Palace, with a large tree in the back.

Dimensions
  • Height: 16cm
  • Width: 14.5cm
  • Fully extended length: 64cm
Credit line
Accepted under the Cultural Gifts Scheme by HM Government from the collections of Jacqueline and Jonathan Gestetner and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2016.
Object history
Part of the Jacqueline and Jonathan Gestetner Collection, collected over 30 years and given to the V&A Museum through the government's Cultural Gift Scheme, 2016.
Summary
The Great Exhibition in 1851 was the first international exhibition of manufactured products. Organised by Henry Cole and Prince Albert, it was held in the purpose-built Crystal Palace in Hyde Park in London. Many of the objects in the Exhibition were used as the first collection for the South Kensington Museum which opened 1857 and later became the Victoria and Albert Museum.



The Exhibition spurred great international interest, and was one of the two most popular subjects of the paper peepshow in nineteenth century, the other one being the Thames Tunnel. Like the Thames Tunnel, the Great Exhibition became the topic of a large variety of souvenirs, including many optical toys.



Unlike their British counterparts, German publishers seemed much less concerned about the accuracy of the image or fine details used in the paper peepshow. The cut-out panels in this work depict the interior of the Crystal Palace as the artist imagined it might be. Yet not everything is the artist’s fantasy, and the large tree on the back panel can be identified as one of the famous ‘Sibthorpe Elms’. The ultra-Tory right-wing MP Colonel Charles de Laet Waldo Sibthorpe protested the felling of the elm trees on the proposed site for the Great Exhibition. In response, the architect Joseph Paxton simply built the Crystal Palace over the elms by fitting out the Transept with a barrel roof.



Enclosing the paper peepshow in a cartonnage box was a basic format used by German manufacturers. Also common is the practice of giving titles in German, French and English, as the publishers aimed their products at an international market.



For more information on the Great Exhibition and Crystal Palace, see here.
Bibliographic Reference
R. Hyde, Paper Peepshows. The Jacqueline and Jonathan Gestetner Collection (Woodbridge: The Antique Collectors' Club, 2015), cat. 167.
Other Number
38041016058620 - NAL barcode
Collection
Library Number
Gestetner 167

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record createdOctober 18, 2017
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