St Paul's Cathedral, London, England
9 January 1806
A topographical view from the North Transept looking towards the crossing of the Crystal Palace, which housed the Great Exhibition of 1851. Parts of the Indian and Turkish sections can be seen. Signed at bottom: Js Roberts / June 1851. In his capacity as President of the Society of Arts, Prince Albert set up a committee to organise exhibitions with the aim of improving British industrial design. An exhibition in Birmingham in 1849 was followed by the first truly international exhibition, the Great Exhibition of Products of Industry of All Nations, held in Joseph Paxton's 'Crystal Palace' in Hyde Park, London, in the summer of 1851. Six million people visited the exhibition to see over 100,000 exhibits from around the world, divided broadly into raw materials, machinery, manufactures and the fine arts; Queen Victoria herself visited no fewer than thirty-four times. The substantial profits were used to establish the South Kensington Museum, renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1899. In addition to a sequence of watercolours commissioned by Prince Albert to be reproduced by Dickinson Bros in chromolithography, Queen Victoria also commissioned James Roberts, whom she patronised extensively, to paint nine views of the Great Exhibition to be mounted in her Souvenir Albums. This watercolour was originally mounted in Souvenir Album V. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert compiled nine Souvenir Albums during their marriage. These albums contained watercolours and drawings documenting their life together and were arranged in chronological order. The albums were dismantled in the early twentieth century and rebound in new volumes both in a different arrangement and with additional items, but a written record of their original contents and arrangement still exists.
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