The cosmopolitan world of Victorian portraiture
The Crystal Palace portrait gallery, c.1854
in After 1851
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‘The World of Victorian Portraiture’ focuses on the 500 plaster cast busts that make up the largely ignored portrait sequence at the Crystal Palace, that ran throughout and alongside the Fine Arts Courts, treating the portrait collection as a microcosm of Sydenham as a whole. Focussing on a close reading of Samuel Phillips’s official 1854 guide to the portrait sequence, in relation to the few surviving images of portrait busts at Sydenham, the chapter seeks to counter a myopic, insular, working-class historical emphasis on Sydenham as a provincial, proletarian pleasure park. In its place, the chapter returns to centre stage the complex, cosmopolitan, high cultural experiences and ambitions of a specific subset of visitors - the ideal audience imagined by the official guides.

After 1851

The material and visual cultures of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham

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