World Exhibition Paris 1878

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May 1, 1878 - October 31, 1878


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English Section

English Section at the Exhibition Paris 1878

Architect(s) : W.-H. Lascelles, R. Norman Shaw, Gilbert R. Redgrave, Doulton de Lambeth, Tarring & Wilkinson, Redgrave, William Cubitt & Cie, Colliuson & Lock, Collcutt

There are five buildings separated by gardens, the series of which forms the typical façade of the British section of the Champ-de-Mars.

The first, built by Mr. W.-H. Lascelles, to the designs of Mr. R. Norman Shaw, reproduces, in imitation red brick, a house of the time of Queen Anne.

The second, known as the Prince of Wales' pavilion, was built to the designs of Mr. Gilbert R. Redgrave; it is a very successful specimen of Elizabethan architecture, to which we propose to return.

The third, with a red brick and terracotta façade, is intended for the Commission's service, and is the work of Mr. Doulton, of Lambeth, guided by the designs of Messrs. Tarring and Wilkinson.

The fourth building is perhaps the most characteristic of all.
It is a rustic cottage, in that old English style still so much in favour in Cheshire, the timber frame of which forms a frame for plaster panels. The design of this cottage is due to Mr. Redgrave, architect of the British Commission, and it was executed by the very workmen of Messrs. William Cubitt and Co. We give today the drawing of this remarkable construction.

Finally, the fifth and last of the series represents a specimen of the architecture of the time of William and Mary. It was built by Messrs Colliuson and Lock, to the designs of Mr Collcutt.

IN DETAIL:

The first house that comes into view represents a middle-class dwelling for the countryside or the province.
The builder of this house is Mr. Lascelles; the architect Mr. Norman Shaw. His system has the great advantage of being very economical; you can have a house for a few thousand francs.

Built in a very charming style, and above all very much loved by the English, the style of the time of Queen Anne; it has three floors, vast, spacious, airy, and furnished in the manner of the time, by Messrs. Jackson and Araham.

The ground floor serves as an anteroom, or rather a waiting room; it is here that the visitor casts off his coat and stays until he is received.

The room is wide, one can breathe in it, one can take a real walk in it; the window, placed at about one metre in height, is wide, but not very high; it spreads an honest and very discreet light in the room; it illuminates the family life, it does not reveal it.

On the first floor is the living room, on the second the bedrooms, on the third the servants' rooms. The kitchen, which we forgot to mention, is naturally on the ground floor, to the right of the antechamber.

The furniture is less entirely in the style of the period than the house, but it is an almost exact imitation of it.

Furniture, armchairs, seats, beds, all of it is large, solid, comfortable; all of it is made of those solid English woods so justly renowned and, a detail to be noted, all the furniture is solid, there is no veneer. Open the secretaries, the drawers come and go with astonishing ease; the wood they are made of does not play.

All the ornaments are of wrought copper.

In this house, we noticed, among other curiosities, a magnificent fireplace of the period, which we will describe to you.

The platform of the chimney is almost at man's height, as is the woodwork that goes around the room.

Above this platform is a sort of two-tiered shelf, but one such as you have never seen in France; the first tier, which is immediately above the mantelpiece, has three small mirrors forming frames in front of which vases, tea sets, etc. are placed; the second tier is decorated in the same way, but with the difference that the mirror which decorates it is in one piece and occupies the whole of its width.

This kind of superimposed ornamentation is often found, and sometimes in a much more complicated way, in the furniture of the period, especially in furniture used as an office.

This house is used for the conferences of the British Royal Commission.


the pavilion of his highness the prince of wales.

The external form of this pavilion is not very attractive to the eye or the mind.

A modest portico forms the entrance; it is flanked on each side by two grilled windows, between which are niches for statues; the first and only floor repeats the architectural design of the ground floor, with the difference that the portico framing the middle window is surmounted by a massive capital rather like the crowning of triumphal arches, and on which the British flag flies. The two windows on the first floor, absolutely identical to those on the ground floor, above which they are mathematically placed, are surmounted by a kind of small dome, the nationality of which is difficult to identify.

On the ground floor, the empty space between the small stone pilasters is filled with red bricks whose interstices are sealed with plaster; the effect is not ugly, but it is ordinary; on the first floor, where there is no more ashlar, all the masonry is made up of these red bricks; to break the monotony, some sort of black brick lozenges have been used, which contrast a little with the red without completely achieving the desired result.

Let's go inside, what a difference and what a revelation! We understand that the architect, as a practical man, has resolutely sacrificed form to substance, appearance to comfort; indeed, the layout of the place is perfectly combined for the convenience of those who are to inhabit it; the layout is admirably conceived from all points of view.

The first thing to be noticed is the width and height of the ground floor; space has been spared in neither of these two dimensions, which shows the great sense of hygiene possessed by English architects.

The architect, - Mr. Redgrave, let us not forget to name him, was also concerned with the question of light. He didn't want a lot of light, nor did he want half light. So he lit his ground floor from above. The ceiling of each room in this charming pavilion is replaced by a pane of glass. This glass is coloured in such a way as to give each of the rooms it illuminates the degree of light it requires.

This is easily seen during a careful visit.

The shape of this pavilion is a very slightly elongated rectangle, almost a square; this rectangle is cut in its length and width into three unequal parts; it thus comprises nine rooms.
The vestibule is severely decorated; the woodwork is high, the paintings are dark green; on the wall, on either side of the door to the flats, is a silver shield; on the right, the staircase which leads to the upper floor; on the left, a large room for the service people. The floor is decorated with a simple and severe mosaic.

Opposite us, a large room: this is the dining room.

The glass is quite clear, its violet patterns, quite rare and spaced out, diffuse little light which falls plumb on the vast table loaded with a magnificent gold service.

The walls are lined with high panelling, above which have been hung rich English tapestries, representing the principal scenes of The Merry Wives of Windsor, and coming from the Royal Manufactory of that city.

One walks on a thick, richly patterned carpet, with a blue background, soberly coloured.

The furniture is covered with green velvet, velvet that looks like Utrecht velvet.

Behind the table, a vast fireplace, in the style of the one described above; above this fireplace, the portrait of the Queen of England.

On elegant sideboards, placed on both sides of the door, are ewers, precious vases, services which constitute masterpieces of goldsmithery.

Two rooms open onto the dining room, one on the right, the other on the left.

The one on the left is the Prince of Wales' smoking room; the one on the right is the princess' boudoir, a jewel, something fairy-like.

Behind these two rooms, one adjoining the smoking room and the other the boudoir, are two dressing rooms; a corridor which passes behind the dining room serves as a communication between them.

The prince's smoking room is furnished with admirable taste. The light which it receives is soft and favourable to rest as well as to work. The woodwork is high, the wall hanging consists of large panels of green velvet. At the top, a very rich border runs around the flat; it represents chinoiseries on a gold background.

This kind of chinoiserie is very curious; we find it on a screen at the entrance to the smoking room; the background is gold, the design is in coloured silk; it represents vases of flowers and climbing plants with birds.

In front of the fireplace is a desk, in front of which you see attached to the wall on one side the portrait of the Prince, and on the other that of the Princess of Wales; both are painted on porcelain and extremely well done.

Another small desk, - a working desk, - is on the opposite side to the fireplace; the inkstand is of gold, as are the candlesticks.

To the right of the fireplace is a small sofa with a plain grey background.

There are many objets d'art in this room, but we have managed to avoid clutter.

The smoking room is closed with a garnet velvet curtain, which is held up by tiebacks made of small golden diamonds.

Behind the smoking room is the prince's toilet.

In a small cabinet, the walls of which are painted in soft green, is an elegant washbasin, decorated with aquatic subjects painted on porcelain; it is closed by means of blue hangings; next to it is a small room for changing clothes, and then the passage of communication of which we have spoken, and here we are in the house of Her Gracious Highness the Princess of Wales.

The washbasin and the toilet differ little from that of the Prince. Of course, the same cannot be said of the boudoir.

This boudoir is absolutely delightful.

The walls are hung with large blue panels; the whole furnishing is blue.

Beside a delightful little work-table is a screen similar in ornamentation to that which we noticed in the Prince's house, but with a blue background; opposite the table is a small lady's desk.

Elsewhere, rosewood furniture, an armchair, a sofa, a few chairs, and that is all.

At the back of the boudoir is an artificial grotto with a gushing fountain, aquatic animals, sea grass, etc. It is lined with mirrors. It is lined with mirrors arranged in such a way as to present the appearance of great depth and to produce beautiful reflective effects.

This boudoir is, we repeat, a real jewel of taste and delicacy; it is closed by means of a sort of vault, draped with doors from the Royal School of Needlework.


THE OTHER FAÇADES.

The first façade we notice after the princely pavilion is the terracotta and pottery house built by Messrs Doultœn and Co. and decorated inside by Messrs Shoolbred and Co.

It is also all red from the bottom to the top, except for half a dozen enamelled medallions which break the monotony.

Its façade is very elegant, and it is undeniable that it charms everyone, but it seems rather difficult to say, from an architectural point of view, to which period or to which genre it belongs. There is indeed everything on this façade; it even seems that the author was inspired by the Moorish style.

The house has two floors, the ground floor consisting of two windows with pointed arches resting on columns with capitals made of acanthus leaves.

The upper floor has three windows, also with arches, decorated with innumerable columns whose capitals are a mess. An open balustrade, which would suggest the existence of a terrace, completes the crown of the small building.

The interior is furnished by an exhibitor of Queen Anne style furniture. As you can see, we encounter this style everywhere. It is, we repeat, very popular in England, no doubt because of its elegance, as well as the convenience it offers.

The fourth is built by William Cubitt and Company, who are exhibitors for the first time, and is usually referred to as the Canada pavilion, because it is used for meetings of the Commission of that English possession, and has been decorated and furnished by Canadian exhibitors.

The fifth, built in the Anglo-Dutch style of the time of William and Mary, was decorated in the same style by Mr. Collinson and Sons.

This façade is completely different from the previous one; first of all it is all white, and secondly it has the advantage, although very simple, of representing a definite period, that of Elisabeth.
It has only two floors, a ground floor and a first floor; it occupies very little land, but how well the land was used! The first floor overhangs considerably; it is supported by four turned wooden columns, which form a sort of external peristyle in front of the ground floor. The room is naturally a little dark, but, if you go up to the first floor, what a spectacle is offered to you!

You will find a vast lounge furnished in a beautiful style, the front of which is made up entirely of glass windows. The light floods into the living room and from your armchair you can see the landscape for miles around.

Adjacent to the living room is a fairly large room that serves as a bedroom. Also in full light, it is equipped with all the comfort and elegance imaginable.

On the day we visited it contained an iron parade bed with gilt copper posts. Among the bedding, we noticed an ornamented silk bed cover worth 1,500 francs.

©Les Merveilles de l'Exposition de 1878