The first products of Austria that strike the visitor's eye are its porcelain and crystal. Such an introduction is clever; the impression made by the masterpieces placed at the entrance to the aisles, foretells the rest.
The magnificent crystals of the Nouwelt manufactory in Bohemia, belonging to Count Harrach, are placed at the entrance on the north side, and opposite them, on the south side of the great avenue, are the no less splendid products of the Meisterdoff and Pelikan glassworks, also in Bohemia. The beautiful porcelains of the Royal Devian Factory and those of Altrohlau contrast in their bright colours with the less brilliant but equally pleasing colours of the crystals with which they are mixed and which present a harmonious combination of white, green, red and blue.
A whole aisle is devoted to these admirable products; tea and coffee sets, plates and fruit baskets; rococo statuettes, flowers, festoons, porcelain lace, are piled up in charming disorder. The crystals, for their part, take on the most bizarre and elegant forms.
The second aisle, south of Austria, contains velvets and damasks for draperies from the factory of Messrs. Hass and Sons, Vienna, as well as beautiful fabrics for waistcoats and trousers.
In the third aisle one encounters large woollen hangings and printed and brocaded woollen fabrics from Bohemia. These aisles lead to a room devoted to various types of fabrics.
Wool is again seen here in the most varied forms, sometimes in fabrics pure of all mixture and made in Vienna, to be used for dresses and shawls; sometimes united with silk or cotton, combinations in which the Austrian manufacturer brings the most ingenious and fruitful taste.
Vienna exhibited beautiful balzorines, and Reichenberg, in Bohemia, handkerchiefs and thibets, in circassian, as well as light fabrics for dresses, of remarkable manufacture.
Aussig, Bohemia, is distinguished by its goat hair, victorines, wool and cotton fabrics, and pure wool checks.
M. Joseph Ries, of Vienna, has borrowed from France the beautiful designs of his cashmere shawls, a plagiarism all too common in Austria and which causes the greatest harm to our manufacturers. The cashmeres from Vienna are light and inferior to ours, but their low price makes their imperfections forgivable.
We also note the numerous products of Messrs. Leitenberger, of Cosmanos, near Prague.
These gentlemen, who occupy one of the first places in Austrian industry, exhibited printed cotton cloths whose designs, which are very varied, are quite well executed, although far from being equal to those of our factories. In Austria, as in Prussia, the cotton industry still has a lot of progress to make in order to reach the level of the wool industry.
The fourth Austrian aisle contains products that have nothing to do with Austria; it is devoted to sculpture, but to Milanese sculpture.
The conquerors of Lombardy have attached their name to works that are not theirs: a sad and guilty usurpation, severely judged by the European public. It was necessary, at least, to leave the talent its nationality and write the name of Milan at the head of its masterpieces.
What Milanese sculptors excel at most are the figures of veiled women. Ingeniously combining the effects of light and shadow, the delicate chisel knows how to give the stone the folds, the finesse, the suppleness and the faithful appearance of gauze.
The illusion is complete and the effect admirable. You have to touch these marvellous statues with your finger, so to speak, to be convinced that they are made entirely of stone.
We arrive at the Austrian cloth alley, which is the last one on the south side.
The cloths of Teltsch, in Moravia, are of a remarkable fineness and could almost compete with those of Aachen and Sedan.
MM. Moro frères, from Klagenfurth, exhibited white, light blue, red, green, hazelnut and orange sheets of the greatest beauty. They are all for military uniforms.
Brùnn's are of the highest quality. Especially noteworthy are its Peruvian, Brazilian, American and other fine types.
Of all the textile industries of Austria, it is undoubtedly the cloth industry which seems to have reached the greatest perfection.
We notice, in a transverse aisle, some beautiful long-pile carpets; Hungarian costumes as picturesque as they are original; very elegant bed covers; plain and printed linen cloths of superior workmanship, exhibited by the same Count Harrach, whose superb crystals we have already examined. The linen factories of this Austrian nobleman, who, like many of the influential members of the high aristocracy of his country, occupies a most considerable industrial position, are situated at Slaskenbach, in Bohemia, and at Janowitz, in Moravia.
Pest sent samples of prepared hemp, and the Milanese charitable institution, called the Casa Pia, several pieces of cloth.
Before concluding the examination of the southern division of Austria, on the ground floor, we are forced to make a short excursion into its domains in the upper galleries, in order to complete the review of the fabrics sent from that country.
It is in the southern galleries that the exhibition of Austrian silks is to be found, a very interesting exhibition, especially as a point of comparison with the products of Lyon.
Banat and Lombardy supplied cocoons and beautiful grey silks.
Vienna sent wholesale fabrics from Naples, moiré silks, remarkable satins, but very inferior to ours.
His scarves, his scarves, his damasks, his checked silks, his fabrics for dresses, do not have much merit. On the other hand, his furniture silks and car linings are to be commended.
Mr. Rossi's barège dresses are charming. His shawls and embroidered scarves leave something to be desired.
The arms of England, gold, silver and silk, embroidered in Vienna, are of perfect elegance.
This city has raised several trophies; one, composed of damasks, lampas, brocades and satins, is worthy of attention; the other, formed of chasubles and church ornaments, has, perhaps, more richness than taste; the third, consisting of brocades for furniture, is sinful in its designs, which are most common.
Although overshadowed by the products of Lyon, Austrian silks are those which, after ours and those of China, perhaps occupy the most honourable place in the Crystal Palace.
The velvets of Saint-Georgenlhal cannot be compared with Prussian velvets.
Bohemia has sent pretty embroidered bayadere handkerchiefs, but its silk laces have a common stamp.
The ribbons of Vienna are well made, though as inferior to those of Saint-Etienne, as the laces of Vienna are to those of Chantilly and Bayeux.
The Viennese shawls and especially the cashmeres, of which we find trophies here, have the fault, unforgivable in our eyes, of having been made to French designs. But it must be admitted that they are very close to ours, as an industrial merit.
Vienna's wallpapers are far superior to French ones.
In one of the northern galleries, four large and beautiful carpets were exhibited, not far from which were four magnificent pianos made of light wood; wind instruments from Prague, which are highly prized, and curious samples of Bohemian wood.
Now that we have reviewed all the fabrics of Austria, it remains for us to complete the visit to its ground floor rooms in the southern part.
In one room we see hardware, cutlery and weapons; rifles, carahines and Inspruck pistols; hunting knives with elegantly carved handles; a large assortment of files; safes; ordinary, but well-made knives.
Further on, there are tanned and varnished leathers from Prague; then mannequins, figures, automatons, dolls, wooden soldiers and a quantity of other children's toys, which have acquired in Austria, as in northern Germany, a great perfection. Then we come across saddlery, whips, parasols; mother-of-pearl buttons from Vienna, and a fine assortment of gloves, justly renowned, from Hungary, sent by the united glove factories of Prague. These meetings of factories spread considerably in Austria as well as in Prussia and Saxony, and show a singular tendency to association.
Vienna's shoes for men and women were well packaged, as were its toiletries. Austrian silverware still has a long way to go, judging by some Viennese silver, to compete with that of Paris.
But one product that is entirely national and in which Austria can claim superiority is pipes of all shapes and colours. It is not a showcase, it is a whole room that this country has filled with its pipes and stems.
Particularly noteworthy are those made of Viennese clay, known as massa-pfeiffen, which are of a very pleasant matt white.
The aisle at the southern end of the Austrian exhibition is devoted to raw and wrought irons. Next to the ores of this metal, one can admire the beautiful cast iron factories of the princes of Schwartzenberg and Fürstemberg, the count of Thurn and the baron of Dietrieh.
Some high and light cast iron furnaces stand out for their artistic ornaments and elegant forms.
Mr. Vurm, from Vienna, exhibited wire ropes of great strength and very good quality.
One is surprised not to see other ores exhibited by a country whose metallic wealth is as great as that of Austria.
It now remains for us to go through the rooms on the north side of the nave.
The Austrian aisle closest to Holland has some real typographical treasures. Here we find specimens of all known typefaces.
The geographical maps drawn up by the Vienna Geographical Institution are commendably sharp and precise.
The products of Austrian photography are very interesting; but what excites the admiration of connoisseurs are coloured lithographs of paintings of flowers, lithographs more perfect than the original placed beside each of them.
The carpentry instruments exhibited by Austria are very numerous. Among these machines, we notice a steam engine with parabolic regulator; a Jacquard loom; ploughs and a seeder. It can be seen that in mechanical engineering, Austria is as poorly represented at the Exhibition as she is honourably represented in fabrics and crystals.
Her cars, bronzes and engravings are nothing remarkable. Her daguerreotypes are perfectly successful.
But what flatters her pride the most in the Crystal Palace are the so-called Austrian salons.
The salon closest to the main avenue contains two long tables, a few worthless pictures and ordinary furniture.
The second is a bedroom. One remains appalled at the sight of the colossal proportions of a giant's parade bed, remarkable, of course, for its Gothic carvings, which contrast in an unfortunate manner with certain somewhat Pompadour ornaments. The bedside table is beautifully crafted, but the other furniture, despite its elegance, is hardly in harmony with the grandiose luxury of the monster bed.
The third salon is decorated with Milanese art objects.
There is a square table in papier-mâché, decorated with inlays in the Japanese style; a beautiful screen of the same material, enriched with paintings, and two urns, also in papier-mâché and with inlays. The ceiling paintings are of a skilful brush.
Next comes the dining room, which contains a long table, a piano and a sideboard topped with candelabras.
The next room is undoubtedly a study, judging by two beautiful bookcases with Gothic carvings, which cannot, however, claim to rival the admirable Fourdinois piece of furniture.
A billiard room is located behind this room.
The objects of art exhibited by Austria in the great avenue, are all Italian, except four statues by M. Fercorn, of Vienna, representing heroic figures, from the Niebelungen, and which indicate real talent.
Nothing is more beautiful in the Crystal Palace than the stained glass windows of Bertini, of Milan, to which a special cell has been erected. The features of Dante and of some of his characters are traced there with a masterly hand. The beauty and brilliance of the colours perhaps surpass anything more perfect of this kind that has been done in our time.
Another Milanese, Mr. Raphael Monti, has exhibited a delightful group in marble, representing two young girls fishing.
The Wounded Achilles, by Fracarolli, of Verona, and the Mazeppa, by Pienotti, also have merit.
Thanks to Italy, Austria has succeeded in adding a few artistic awards to the industrial ones that her beautiful cloths, her brilliant porcelain, her magnificent crystals and her elegant silks so rightly deserve. The influence of the South is also felt in a salutary and useful way among its manufacturing populations.
© Palais de Cristal – Journal Illustré de L’Exposition de 1851