Owen Jones, The Great Exhibition, a watercolour with pen and ink

England, AD 1851

The Great Exhibition (or the International Exhibition of the Society of Arts) was held over five months in London in 1851. It included nearly 14,000 exhibitors from around the world, displaying the finest art and design of every nation. It attracted more than six million visitors. It was held in the Crystal Palace (designed by Sir Joseph Paxton) that covered twenty acres of Hyde Park. After the end of the exhibition, the glass building was dismantled, then reassembled in Sydenham, London, where it remained until it was destroyed by fire in 1936.

In 1851, Owen Jones (1809-1874) was appointed Superintendent of the Works of the exhibition, and became responsible for the arrangement and decoration of the building, for which he prepared a well-received scheme of primary colours.

In 1836, Jones produced the first substantial examples of colour lithography in Britain, a manner of illustration that became extremely popular in Victorian England. His still-influential book The Grammar of Ornament was first published in 1856.

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C. Gere and M. Whiteway, Nineteenth century design from (London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1993)


Height: 299.000 mm
Width: 956.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1899-4-27-1


Gift of Sir Edward Durning-Lawrence


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