Discordant and ambiguous messages in official representations of Empire: Versailles 1845, Crystal Palace 1851
This article compares issues of imperial representation and display in mid-nineteenth century Paris and London. Analysing the selection of images and artefacts displayed in Versailles in 1845, and at the 1851 Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, it focuses on the monumental Vernet painting The Capture of the Smala of Abd-El-Kader at Versailles, and the Indian Court at the Great Exhibition which became a symbol of the submission of India. The French display of paintings of the conquest of Algeria and the British exhibition of artefacts and pageantry have overwhelmingly been read as a cry of imperial triumphalism. Whilst not refuting that interpretation, this article focuses on signs of ambivalence and/or dissent discernible at the time regarding the wisdom, morality, durability and ultimate value of foreign domination, and argues that the implicit discourses contained in both events are not as monolithic as first seems.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of Westminster
Publication date: 01 November 2004
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