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THE PARIS EXHIBITION., Issue 7994, 24 August 1889, Supplement
THE PARIS EXHIBITION.
[From Odr Special Reporter. 1
No, IV, Paris, July 10. In these somewhat rambling letters I have not attempted to give anything lihe a detailed description of the Exhibition, which would be, I conceive, to a great extent a work of supererogation or surplusage, considering the very full accounts from time to time published in the English papers, and, if not transcribed in your columns, certainly familiar to the majority of your readers. My scheme—if it can be considered a scheme, and order can be evolved cut of disorder —is rather to note such things which suggest themselves as likely to be of more especial interest in the colony, and to take these up very much at haphazard, as the fancy strikes me. Thus in my last letter I gave a brief sketch of the exhibits from the colonies and dependencies of France, which evidently, as a matter of policy, constitute so conspicuous a feature of the Exhibition. As in some respects cognate thereto, I described the successful efforts made by some politically insignificant and hardly-known States to place themselves in evidence before the world and make known their resources and present condition of civilisation It is a thousand pit-ieo, I must again assert, that the colonies of England are represented solely by the poor shows of Victoria and New Zealand. The Imperial Government, I venture to conceive, are to blame for not having made it their business to secure at any' cost adequate representation. THIS FIXE ARTS COURT. Two magnificent buildings, properly called palaces, which face each other on each side of the Palais Central, with its gleaming minarets and dome, are devoted respectively to the fine arts and the liberal arts and sciences, constituting, as may be imagined, the most generally-interesting sections of the Exhibition. The Palais des Beaux Arts contains not only a marvellous collection of the chefs d’muvres of French art, painting, sculpture, engraving, etching, etc., showing the development during the centennial period ; but no less than fifty saloons in the vast building are occupied by the exhibits of foreign countries. _ Italy, Spain, England, Germany, Russia, and Austro-Ilimgaiy on the ground floor; Belgium, Switzerland, Greece, the United States, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Servia, Roumania, and other less known States, not officially represented, in the magnificent galleries of the first floor. It may readily be conceived what a field is hero presented to the lovers and students of art. No such intellectual treat can ever in the nature of things have been afforded, nor is likely to be again under one roof. The choicest art treasures of the civilised world, or specimens at least of every school, are gathered here, and the expansion and artistic progress of every European country are illustrated and demonstrated in the moat interesting manner. In sculpture, Italy, 1 shou’cl conceive, retains the high position she has held for centuries, but is pressed close in the more modern school hy France. The realistic character, however, of French art generally does not commend itself to English taste ; many of otherwise most exquisite sculptures exhibited are distinctly objectionable, and it may be added quite unnecessarily so, simply from the want of a little drapery. It is gratifying to our national feelings to hear the almost universal assurance that in painting the English collection “takes the cake.” The personal supervision of Sir Frederick Leighton, who was ably seconded by Mr Alma Tadema, Mr Alfred Hunt, and other eminent Academicians, has secured a truly superb exhibition, The whole arrangements are a model of elegance and good taste, from tho choice of the pictures, their judicious grouping and hanging, down to the beauti- ; fully printed catalogue and the very comfortable furnishing of the saloons, where abundance of luxurious seats enable the exhibition to be enjoyed without fatigue. The level of art in Great Britain is very much what it was in 1878, when the last great international Exhibition was held in Paris, The same veterans occupy the scene. At the head there is Sir J. E. Millais, who shows six of his moat admired works ‘ Cherry Ripe,’ ‘ The Last Rose of Summer,’ •Cinderella,’ ‘Bubbles,’ and the recentlyexecuted portrait of Mr Gladstone—the last a most striking picture ; the veteran statesman, full of life and intelligence, seems to stand out of the canvas ; it is indeed worthy in every respect of the high reputation of the artist Alma Tadema exhibits one picture which alone would stamp him with eminence, and has indeed given him a first place by the verdict of the Exhibition jurors. The subject is ‘ The Sleep of the Menades at Amphissa,’ a charming scene described in the ‘ Daniel Derooda ’ of George Eliott. The school of Pre-Raphaelites is represented by its chief disciple, Burne-Jones, who exhibits that most exquisite work ‘ King Cophetua and the Beggar Girl.’ Unfortunately, neither Holman Hunt nor Gabriel Rosetti have put in an appearance, but Mr Walter Crane shows that wonderful conception, ‘La Belle Dame sans Merer,’ and some purely delicious sketches for ‘ Grimm’s Household Stories,’ and ‘ The Sirens Three,’ Among the artists not yet known to fame, but soon, there is little doubt, to be inscribed in its rolls, who exhibit canvases, are Mr Forbes, a young painter, who somewhat affects the modem Continental style, and Mr Wylie, a marine painter, whose works already attract some attention. Germany, Austria, and Russia are but feebly represented, whilst Italy displays distinct signs of decadence. The United States shows a number of pictures, but they are almost exclusively by artists who are practically _ Parisian and have exhibited for years in the annual saloons (the exhibitions which answer to those of tho Royal Academy in London). My impression is that it would take at least a fortnight to do anything like justice to the inspection of tho treasures in the Palais des Beaux Arts. I have only endeavored to give an idea of what there is to see of more particular interest to English people. THE LIBERAL ARTS. The Palais des Arts Liberanx is exactly the same design as the Palais dvs Beaux Arts, forming, if you look from the base of the Eiffel Tower, the right facade of the Palais Central. The edifice comprises two grand naves, 29Dft in length and 164 ft wide, a, gigantic central dome 100 ft in diameter at tho base and 180 ft in height. There is a gallery all round tho building 50/t wide, with a balcony 16ft wide opening on tho naves for promenading. The total area available is, as nearly as can be calculated frrm the French system ot mensuration, 40,000,891 yards. Although the palace is denominated that of the Liberal Arts, tho liberal arts proper really form only one class of the contents. The Exhibition is really that of the history of human work and research in all its branches, and comprises five sections —(1) The anthropological and ethnographical sciences ; (2) the liberal arts; (3) Ihe manual arts and employments; (4) the means of transport; (5) the military arts. The exhibition of the liberal arts under class 2 includes methods of instruction from that of the infant up to the organisation and material of secondary education ; the a_rts_ of printing, paper - making, bookbinding, illustrated by work in actual operation. The materials for painting, sketching, planning, and photography, instruments of music, and those used in medicine and surgery, mathematical instruments, charts, globes, and other appurtenances of geography, cosmography, and topography ere shown in intelligent arrangement. The circular portico under the dome, from which branch the various courts on the I ground floor and tho staircases to the gallierics and balconies, is the centre of section 2, and is devoted to the theatre and its history. We are shown inter alia the decoration of the auditory, the stage fittings at various periods of the grand opera and the National Theatre, the simple machinery of years ago, tho complicated contrivances for stage effect in modem times, tho programmes for a long series of years, portraits and costumes of celebrated actors, and modes of set scenes in many famous operas and dramas. Adjacent to this portico are the courts in which tho history of painting and sculpture is illustrated by the methods employed by the painter and sculptor in all time ; tho materials in each instance and examples of completed works executed in fresco, oil, distemper, water-color, etc. ; and as regards sculpture, in wood, stone, bronze, ivory, and
wax. la other courts we have, after the same fashion, the history of engraving, of coins, of money, and of medals. Music occupies a large space the history illustrated by the exhibit of musical instruments and their fabrication from the Egyptian harp of remote antiqnily from the Louvre galleries and the rebeck, modelled from the antique statue of music at Chartres, to the ordinary piano of to-day. Under section 1 is displayed exhaustively the history of man, forming a series ®f realistic and picturesque representations, occasionally in some instances rather unpleasantly realistic. The Minister of the Interior and hia department are responsible for the educational exhibits* which, exceedingly well arranged, arc on a large and comprehensive scale, I have not as yet had the opportunity of thoroughly examining these as I should have wished, and therefore postpone more particular notice until I moke a special visit with the express purpose of obtaining such information as may possibly bo of use in the colony. The manual arte and occupations occupy in their history and illustration very considerable space. There are examples, representations, and models of everything which can interest the engineer, the artisan, and the manufacturer. The implements and products of all types and times are shown, even to the reconstruction of the workshops and ateliers of bygone ages. This, I need hardlyeay, is a most interesting section, but again it is one which demands far more than a casual inspection. There is one thing to be said: that in visiting the courts of the Palais des Arts Liberaax one is not impeded by the crowds which in many parts of the Exhibition render it difficult to examine objects properly, or even to move about with pomfort. The portico of the theatre exhibits is perhaps an exception, and the court of the prisons, which I shall give some account of in my next letter. Otherwise there is always room and to spare throughout the vast naves and galleries. HOW THE MILLIONS ARE FED.
Passing, after the fashion of an illustrious order, from labor to refreshment, I shall conclude this present communication by brief reference to the various means afforded in the Exhibition grounds for restoring the wasted tissue of weary sight-seers. There are about forty restaurants and cafes, and, besides these, counters in several sections, where comestibles peculiar to the exhibiting country are to be obtained, and a number of what the French call “brasseries’' and “ burette?,” freely interpreted—refreshment rooms and drinking shops. The restaurants vary in the quality of the fare and the somewhat corresponding prices, from the Caf d Franeais (where princes lunch sumptuously) to the Duval establishments, conducted much on the system of the cheap eating houses in London, and not much exceeding the current prices at those places. Visitors have, therefore, ample choice, and every taste and purse may be Eiuted. Your breakfast or lunch may run. up to 80fr if you like to wash down wollcooked viands with good wine, or you may satisfy the appetite with sufficiently wholesome food for a Couple of francs. The counters (comptoirs tie degaatation) mentioned above are quite a revelation in gastronomies. Sausages in various forms, and possibly of varied flavor, are tho leading feature in tho Austro-Hungarian and Swiss sections. Holland offers strange-looking conglomerations of pressed meats; but I must confess not to have experimented in these quarters,' where, however, a pretty big meal as to quantity can be certainly had for a franc. The English dairy provides strawberries and cream with delicious cakes, and is largely patronised. On the first platform of the Eiffel Tower there are four good restaurants —Russian, French, Italian, and English (the latter run by Spiers and Pond). The Prince of Wales and his family were lunching there one day when I was on the tower. Whilst on the subject of food supply I think it is only fair to the Parisians to state that the exorbitant charges so generally affirmed to have ruled during the Exhibition time are most certainly exceptional, if not altogether imaginative, I know Paris pretty well, and personally I found little difference from past seasons. People who do not “know the ropes” no doubt have to pay for their ignorance, as is the case in London ; but if you do know tho way about, and are not tongue-tied by not understanding the language, there is no necessity whatever for extravagant expenditure.
THE PARIS EXHIBITION., Issue 7994, 24 August 1889, Supplement
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