World's Fair Vienna 1873

Culture and Education

May 1, 1873 - October 31, 1873

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Rotunda at the Exhibition Expo Vienna 1873

The Rotunda was, from the very beginning, the spoiled child of the Universal Exhibition. Its grandiose construction, all in iron, with its gigantic roof and two lanterns, was for the detractors, for a long time already, a utopia from the technical point of view, while the enthusiasts of the Exhibition were, long before the problem was solved, abandoning themselves to the imposing effect that this temple of industry would produce by its colossal dimensions.

Well, frankly speaking, the result is not quite what was expected. However, we do not deny that the Rotunda is not an extraordinary work, although not very successful. It is a matter of taste, after all, and everyone has their own opinion on this point.

The first idea of the Exhibition organisers was to fill the interior of the Rotunda as little as possible, to place only monumental objects there, and this gigantic site, with its numerous plastic works, the pool of the gushing French fountain, and, in the middle, the attractive flowerbeds, would then have resembled a dome dedicated to the fine arts.

Instead, it has been filled with a host of different objects, most of which are enclosed in glass cases, so that this magnificent roundabout loses much of its masterly effect.

This heap of objects, placed there without any system, is advantageously interrupted by great Swiss monuments: one is the national monument of Geneva, which shows Helvetia and Genevia, with the attributes of war and victory; the other represents the monument of St. James, in Basle, by the sculptor Schlöth, in Rome, with the allegorical figure of Helvetia, surrounded by four warriors. Then there is the colossal French lion in bronze, and finally the exhibition of Austrian candles, which produce a great effect, the artistically executed models of the splendid Brussels Stock Exchange and of the "Victor Emmanuel" Gallery.

©L’Exposition Universelle de Vienne 1873