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Switzerland - Expo Paris 1878

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What dominates the Swiss Fine Arts Exhibition is the landscape. Add to this a few good genre paintings, a few scenes from the East and half a dozen remarkable portraits, and we have everything, - everything except one historical painting, one single one, which recalls one of the greatest and most useful traits of patriotic heroism (which is not always the same thing) that general history mentions. We refer to the Battle of Sempach, by M. Conrad Grob. The Confederate army under Archduke Leopold and the feeble militia of the cantons are in battle; obviously the Swiss will be crushed once again; it is impossible to fight against such numerical superiority. This is not the opinion of a poor peasant from Unterwald, the Swiss Decius, Arnold de Winckelried, to call him by his name; having recommended his wife and children to his comrades-in-arms, he rushes onto this wall bristling with pikes, takes an armful, fires at him and, falling pierced by twenty shots, opens a breach where his own people rush in at once. This day (9 July 1386) is the real date of Switzerland's independence, which has almost no history after that. This glorious episode is rendered by Mr Grob with great talent, but also with a great patriotic feeling.

Among the landscapes, we should mention separately Y Ascension du Mont Blanc, by M. G. Loppé. Courageous tourists, as tall as their little finger, painstakingly traverse the crevasses above the Grands Mulets, dominated at a dizzying height by icy peaks from which the avalanche constantly threatens to break loose and engulf them. If it takes courage to face such perils for the sterile glory of boasting about them afterwards, it took no less courage for the artist to tackle such a subject. He shows real talent; there is no need to say that it is not that, it is sincerity itself; and yet one remains cold in front of this icy picture, one does not immediately find these men so small in the presence of this imposing mass of ice, and no matter how much one reasons, one is not interested in their fate. Mr. Loppé has tackled a thankless task, but he has proved that he can do something else. We will now quote, at random, the Etangs de la Camargue, by M. Potter; a Sunrise on the Loffoden Islands (Norway), by M. Schœk, glaciers brilliantly crowned by the sunlight; a Storm in the Æschinen valley, by M. Gos; Unspunnen in the vicinity of Interlaken by M. A.- H. Berthoud; the Forest Interiors (Fontainebleau) and the deer, hinds, fawns, birds, insects and flowers by M. Carl Bodmer; the Campaign of Rome, by M. Émile David; the Heath of Begaar and other views of the Landes, by M. Baudit; the Effect of the sun on the landscape, by M. Baudit; and a picture of the sun in the forest, by M. A.-H. Gos. Baudit; l'Effet du soir au Jura, by M. Jeanmaire; les Bords de la Creuse à Gargilesse, by M. Castan; les Mannes et Paysages normands by M. Pata; le Chemin de Ruisdael aux environs de Leyde, by M. Stengelin.

Let us now mention the oriental scenes by Messrs. E. and J. Girardet, Castres and Hébert, among which the Caravan in search of pasture, by Mr. E. Girardet, shines with particular brilliance, and let us move on to the genre scenes, some of which are truly graceful.

Here is the Fournée au village, by M. Burnand, a composition full of movement and remarkable in every way; the Laveuses de San-Remo and the Départ pour la pêche (côte de Savoie), by M. Bocion; the Marché de Traello (Terre de Labour), by M. Bourcart; the very amusing Repas de circonstance, by M. Vautier; the Mariage à la mairie, where the bridegroom is being waited for, which has already won a medal for M. Simon Durand at the Salon of 1873; Il pleut! - and in the meantime some elegant tourists are languishing in a miserable inn, an amiable composition by M. Ravel; the Fortune Teller and the Gypsies by M. E. Stückelberg; the Tale of the Franc-tireur (Alsace), by M. du Mont; a Village Wedding in the Haute-Savoie, by M. Castres; a Procession in Sorrento, by M. Corrodi; Politics in the Convent, by M. Bosshardt, etc.

Let us not forget the magnificent still lifes of M. A. Deschamps, where the brass, in turn, shines like suns; and let us make a block of the Venus and the Nymphs of M. Zuber-Bulher and of the Zephyrs of M. Léo-Paul Robert, which have warm admirers.

Some portraits: that of the former president, il/. P. Cérésole, by M. A. Berthoud; those of the American generals, enemies at one time, Lee and Sherman, by M. Buchser; the Four Portraits on the Same Canvas, Family Reunited at the Piano, by M. Stückelberg, and we will have quoted what is remarkable in the Swiss exhibition, which, in sum, is not poor.


It goes without saying that education occupies an important place in the Swiss exhibition. Education is compulsory in this country.

The law," say Messrs. Lamarre and Zévort, "obliges parents to send their children to school or to have them educated at home from the age of six to twelve. Fines and imprisonment are used against delinquents, at least in the Protestant cantons. The education provided by the primary school is supplemented by evening schools and secondary schools. All cantons have teacher training colleges. The budget for communal schools can be estimated at 5 million francs; that of the cantonal schools is 5,157,756 francs; that of the Federal Polytechnic School is 287,611 francs; in all, 10,445,367 francs for the budget of public education; that of the war was lower in 1870; in the cantons of Zurich, Bern, Schaffhausen, Basel, Aargau, Thurgau, Ticino, Neuchâtel and Geneva, the schools cost more than the army. It is understandable that in Switzerland the school house is the most beautiful in the village, town or canton; it is understandable that after the Federal Palace in Bern, the most beautiful building in the country is the Polytechnic in Zurich. In the same canton of Zurich, the minimum salary for teachers is 1,200 francs with accommodation; in the city, it varies from 2,300 to 3,500 francs. The total number of schools in Switzerland is 7,000: more than 420,000 pupils attend them, without distinction between the rich and the poor: for the latter, free education is provided. To the universities and schools must be added the public libraries (25 in 1876), with 920,500 volumes; the popular and school libraries, 1,629 in number, with 687,950 volumes, and 5,552 societies of instruction, art or gymnastics, which in 1875 had two hundred and thirty thousand members.

The Swiss Pedagogical Exhibition is remarkable; by examining the works exhibited and the work of the pupils, one recognises that the government and private initiative are struggling with zeal and persistent efforts for the improvement of education.

Secondary and higher education are represented in an admirably complete way; they are nothing but geographical maps, collections, teaching works, works of history, documents relating to the history or the geographical and geodesic conformation of Switzerland, to its products of all kinds.

These are the elements of a solid and rational education.

We particularly admired the magnificent geological map of Switzerland exhibited in the eighth class.

In the printing class, we find the Guttenberg factory, which supplies wooden type and typographic material. Its reputation is European.

In the bookshop class, M. Bridel, the main publisher in Lausanne, exhibits school books, various books and copies of twenty newspapers which are composed and printed in his house.

Finally, the Bibliothèque universelle and the Revue suisse should be noted. The Revue Suisse is 88 years old and has counted a number of illustrious men among its contributors.


To the right of the entrance hall is the Architects' Room, where we see reproductions of theatres, hospitals, schools, and chalets; the exhibition of the Society of Architects of Basel; the plans of the Zurich Stock Exchange Palace, built by M. Ulrich, and of the Bern Military Establishment, built by M. Tièche; these two architects are students of our École des Beaux-Arts in Paris; here again, says M. Brébant in the XIXe Siècle, the plans of the town hall of Winterthur, by M. Semper, and the primitive plans of Saint Peter's in Rome, a very curious archaeological work by M. H. de Geymuller; finally, here are all the models of the Villa Helvetia, a construction made by M. Jaëger in Frankfurt-on-the-Mein, and offering the particularity that it was executed in stones from Paris; this is where the export of our French stones, the use of which in the construction of the Villa Helvetia is not limited to, is from, This is the origin of the export of our French stones to Frankfurt, Mainz, Manheim, etc., whose use, in spite of the cost of transport, leads to a saving of 8 per cent. The entrance door to Villa Helvetia, in carved oak, with chiselled bronze panels, was made by Frenchmen, Messrs Gilbert, sculptor, Christofle et Cie, goldsmiths, and Gastineau, carpenter. It is a magnificent piece.


We will say little about the furniture. What strikes the visitor most is the collective exhibition of the Zurich craftsmen, who produced a rich 16th-century salon.

Glass, crystal, ceramics, cutlery, and goldsmiths' work are not represented at all.

Clock-making, on the other hand, is the triumph of national industry and has been given pride of place. It is shown in the central hall of the Swiss exhibition.

On the right is the watchmaking of Berne, Vaud and Neufchâtel; on the left, that of Geneva.

One is truly dazzled when contemplating all this prodigious quantity of watches, chronometers and clocks.

We will not give a detailed description of all these products which are the nec plus ultra of manufacturing, we think that we will interest the reader more by giving him information on Swiss watchmaking.

In Switzerland, watchmaking has schools.

These are the schools of Biel, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Geneva, Saint-Imier, Le Locle and Fleurier; these schools are nurseries from which real artists emerge every year.

The Swiss watch industry exports many quintals of goods each year.

As far as clothing and its accessories are concerned, we should note in the first place the lace, tulle and embroidery of the cantons of St. Gallen and Appenzel; there are embroideries of admirable finesse.

The jewellery and the jeweler's shop are the next eye-catchers: the Martini rifle, renowned for its great precision, is another curiosity in this group.


All visitors to the Exhibition noticed the beautiful road locomotive that ran daily in the park, near the power plant and boilers.

It is the work of engineer A. Schmidt, of Zurich, who built it, and who used this machine to come to Paris by the ordinary routes.

With its supply of water and coal, and the two persons it carries, this locomotive weighs 128 quintals: the baggage car it tows weighs about 100; it is not only a tug, but is arranged to serve also, on occasion, as a steam pump, drawing water to a distance of 20 feet and throwing it to a height or distance of 180 feet, and this at the rate of 2,000 litres per minute. The force it represents is 20 horsepower. It is the only one, we believe, of all the similar machines exhibited, which transmits the motion to the wheels, not by gears, but by a Galle chain, which acts as a belt. By examining our engraving, it will be seen how the fire pump has been adapted to the water tank of the machine at the rear.

In addition, Mr. Schmidt exhibits many and varied types of hydraulic motors, water pumps, air compression and vacuum pumps, feed pumps, etc., etc. The hydraulic motor, of which we give a sketch, has the advantage, which experience has shown to be of practical use, of giving maximum efficiency to a waterfall, even one of minimal force and quantity, provided that it is at least 10 metres high, or even 8 metres, if the suction of the water leaving the motor is used. The small industries of the cities, as well as the farms, have recourse on a very large scale to this engine, which is becoming for them a much appreciated source of great economy. Sewing machines, cutting saws, lathes, typographical presses are employing it more and more every day.


Mr. A. Millot, a manufacturer in Zurich, has endeavoured to assemble in his shops a complete and rational collection of all the articles that make up the tools of a mill. He builds several of them himself and looks for the others among the most renowned manufacturers, among the devices whose improvements have received the sanction of experience.

In particular, he exhibited his Regina, a new universal machine for cleaning grits, of which our readers can see a sketch in our engraving.

It is provided with a sieve, under which the air is compressed by the ventilator, and whose meshes are by this air constantly kept open, so that the breaths and light sounds are forced to remain on the surface and to flow out, conducted on the oscillating sieve by a special outlet.

The suction is double, combined with the application of a system of oblique sieves which produce a very great division in the sorting and generate a great perfection of work. The grits, which pass through the sieve, are divided at each passage over the oblique sieves, where each parcel is exposed almost in isolation to the action of the air currents.

The force of the air currents increases a little and successively at each sieve, and the quantity of material to be cleaned also decreases with each passage over the sieves.

In this way, the suction of the air is usefully exerted on the smallest parcel of material in its course, instead of reaching only those immediately adjacent to it, as is the case when the air has to tackle a compact mass of grit falling simultaneously from one board to another.

The result of the multiple division of the latter is two kinds of grits cleaned with complete perfection, two kinds of very distinct waste, plus red blasts with no mixture of grits, and all this is obtained by a single passage of the goods through the apparatus.

Let us add that, in spite of the considerable work done by this elegant and solid machine in a very short time, it requires little strength, and that its handling is very easy, since the circulation of the air and all the operation are regulated automatically by the regulating flaps.


The new automatic, universal machine for dressing millstones, by means of a rotating diamond, also built and exhibited by Mr. A. Millot, seems to us to achieve a very significant progress and to render an immense service, especially to mills which do not have elite dressers. If one has ever closely examined the milling industry, one understands the importance of the cutting and dressing of millstones. It is one of the most delicate and difficult operations, the consequences of which are immediately serious.

In his machine, as shown in our drawing, Mr. A. Millot completely eliminates the hammers, and replaces their action by that of the diamond, driven at a speed of 12,000 revolutions per minute by a transmission which links it to the driving machine of the mill. For ten years, the construction of this device has been perfected with a perseverance and solicitude that have been crowned with full success. Today the manufacturer is proud that his machine can defy criticism and above all competition.

The greatest precision characterises the running and working of this interesting machine, which is not exposed to any irregularity, due to the care taken in its construction. A few movements on the adjustment screws are enough to immediately and mathematically determine the conditions of the work required of it.

We will not dwell here on the details of the operation, which are too special; we will only say that, as the diamond automatically and rigorously always passes along the same lines, the grinding wheel is less exposed to wear and tear, and the products it produces are more regular and of better quality, while the quantity of white flour obtained is more considerable.

It takes less than an hour to dress a whole millstone with this machine and requires almost no force. More than three hundred mills are currently using it, including the large mill at Rives (Indre-et-Loire), which employs five of them.


In the Austrian section we have already touched on the important question of mills without grinding wheels. It is important, especially for the custom millers, who are increasingly dispossessed by the perfection of their equipment and the excellence of their products, and who are also threatened by the installation of small domestic mills, which require little power and occupy little space. By the very force of things, by the increasing demands of the public concerning the quality of bread, the milling industry is moving towards an absolute transformation.

It is therefore necessary for the miller to have recourse to the new machines which have for them the consecration of the practice, and with the excellence of the result, the economy in work and in labour.

No machine in this category is perhaps more deserving of attention than the one with plain porcelain cylinders, automatic pressure and differential speed, invented and built by Mr. Fr. Wegmann, of Zurich, generally and well known under the name of the Wegmann press.

The first trial dates back to 1870; at that time, Mr. Wegmann introduced this press in his mill in Naples; since then, more than two thousand of them have been spread throughout the world.

The press consists, as can be seen from our drawing, of a cast iron frame, which carries the porcelain cylinders, and which is surmounted by a hopper. The whole, connected and set in motion by gears, is 1 metre long, 0.83 metres wide and 1.60 metres high, and therefore takes up very little space.

The purpose of this machine is to grind the grits so that they can be blended immediately, without any other operation; this result is achieved successfully and in the most perfect manner.

The important point in milling is not to cut, not to tear the membrane, the germ, the woody parts, but to grind them by compression, so that the flour detaches itself well from the split membranes, and comes out white, pure and fit to be baked after sifting.

Thanks to the differential speed with which the cylinders are driven, all volumes of grits are ground adequately; thanks to the fiery nature, the bite of the grain of the porcelain which constitutes them, the products are easily attracted between the cylinders, and come off with the greatest ease. They do not get polished by working, and if they become a little too rough with use, running them empty for a few minutes, taking care to wet them, is enough to soften their granular surface with fine porosity.

The pressure necessary to split the cells and detach the floury substance is low; a speed of 180 revolutions is sufficient for the driving pulley: any stronger pressure would lead to a too thick layer between the cylinders; all the parts being no longer in contact with their surface, they would cease to be subjected to their action. The floury parts adhering to the bark would not be detached.

All foreign bodies harder than these substances escape the grinding process; in fact, to let them through, the two outer cylinders automatically move away from the inner ones. The force sufficient to grind 150 kilograms of grain per hour does not exceed that of a horse.

These remarkable results are undoubtedly due to the particular nature of the material with which Mr. Wegmann manufactures his cylinders; the quality of the product obtained is today indisputable: the bread made by them can be compared victoriously with that coming from flours obtained by the most perfect processes of milling with wheels.

This apparatus therefore deserves to be the focus of attention of those concerned, to whom it is destined to render all the more service as it represents only a relatively modest expense, and as the flours produced by it no longer need, let us repeat, 'any other operation than blasting.

The jury of the Universal Exhibition sanctioned this opinion by awarding a gold medal to Mr. Wegmann.


As the following groups are not exceptional, we will move on to food.

First of all, there is the Swiss biscuit, called zwiebach, and the bekerli from Basle; then the cheeses from Berne, Lucerne, the Gruyère from Fribourg, the cheese from Schwyz, the one from Untervalden, the one from Graubünden, and finally the Tête de moine.

The class of fermented drinks includes absinthe, vermouth, bitter and kirsch.

Swiss bitter and kirsch are too well known to be worth mentioning.

We shall mention, among others, the excellent bitter of Mr. Auguste Hœlcher, which visitors to the Exhibition tasted with such pleasure, as well as his vermouth with Spanish wine.

This vermouth was awarded the silver medal.


The military organisation of Switzerland is too curious for us not to say a few words here.

The Constitution does not permit the maintenance of a permanent army on the territory of the Confederation. Moreover, the ranks, up to that of captain, are by election.

Soldiers are exercised every year; the exercises last eight days for the infantry, fifteen days for the cavalry and artillery.

The military inspection takes place annually, but in several stages; only a certain number of cantons are called each time.

The military schools are organised like our law and medical schools.

The courses there last from six to eight weeks, and are purely practical, it seems; no other nation has yet adopted this strange system.

There are nine military schools: the central school, the regimental school, the school of cantonal instruction, the school of officers, the school of commissariat, the school of military medicine, the school of shooting, the school of engineering.

Weapons are represented at the Swiss exhibition by a machine gun and fuses from Messrs Reishauer and Bluntschle, of Zurich.

The artillery lieutenant-colonel Fornerod-Stadler and Mr. Rubin, assistant of the pyrotechnical laboratory, exhibit fuses for heavy and reduced charge firing, fuses for shrappels, etc., etc.

At the Champ de Mars, Switzerland was represented by customs officers; their uniform is green with white borders.

The Swiss cross embroidered on their cap makes their comrades refer to them as ambulance drivers; but, as it is rightly in memory of the Geneva Convention of August 22, 1864, that the Society for the Relief of the Wounded, which has rendered such great services to humanity, has flown the red-crossed standard, it is a credit to Switzerland to recall on all occasions this circumstance which is so glorious for her.

©Les Merveilles de l'Exposition de 1878