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Bringing the wider world to a princely court

David Roberts (1796-1864)

The Inauguration of the Great Exhibition: 1 May 1851 Signed and dated 1854

Oil on canvas | 86.4 x 152.4 cm | RCIN 407143

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Under Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the public nature of the Collection was emphasised all the more. Albert's great scheme for a Universal Exhibition to be held in 1851 in London was in essence a recreation of Quiccheberg's theatre of wisdom on a vast and glorious scale. The Crystal Palace was itself a cabinet of curiosities where the knowledge of the day could be encompassed within one room. Albert's vision was to show the fruits of the earth – its minerals, plants, fauna and anomalies - alongside the works wrought by man, both artistic and scientific.