Panorama of Palaces

Panorama of Palaces

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Title: Universal Exhibition of 1878. The panorama of the palaces.

Author : FERN (-)

Creation date : 1878

Date shown: 1878

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Chromolithography

Storage place: Carnavalet Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - Bulloz

Picture reference: 01-024370

Universal Exhibition of 1878. The panorama of the palaces.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - Bulloz

Publication date: December 2007

Doctorate in Art History

Historical context

A major exhibition

The 1878 exhibition, inaugurated on 1er May after nineteen months of work and preparation, is in line with the Universal Exhibitions of the XIXe century. Covering an area of ​​750,000 square meters, the exhibition had taken over a whole part of the capital around the Trocadéro hill and the Champ de Mars. The Exhibition, which was visited by more than 16 million people, nevertheless ended in a significant financial deficit of 28 million francs, caused by the construction of two palaces visible on the panorama.

Image Analysis

A universal exhibition on horseback on both banks of the Seine

This panorama describes the geography of the 1878 World's Fair, spread over both banks of the Seine. The northern part, on the right, included the Trocadéro and its gardens. The southern part, on the left, included the exhibition center and the rue des Nations, a row of foreign pavilions. Communication between the two groups took place via the Pont d'Iéna, a link between the two banks. The image testifies to the considerable importance of this ephemeral ensemble in the city. Above all, it reveals the preeminence given to glass and iron in the architecture of the Palais du Champ-de-Mars. Designed by engineer Léopold Hardy, this large building resembled a huge rectangular greenhouse over 400,000 meters in height. Pierced with twenty-seven openings, it contained galleries exhibiting remarkable pieces of international industry and rare objects such as the diamonds of the Crown of France. The architecture of the Palais du Champ-de-Mars, in its grandeur, far exceeded the Crystal Palace, a very famous palace that had been built by Joseph Paxton for the Universal Exhibition in London in 1851.


The panorama, an image of the XIXe century

The use of panoramas was very popular during the XIXe century, which cultivates a taste for history and intellectual and industrial prospecting. This is a chromolithography, a term coined by the lithographer Godefroy Engelmann to designate a color lithographic printing process based on four-color printing. The point of view adopted is that of the height, as if the observer were placed in the nacelle of an aerial vehicle, like the captive balloon called "the giant" raised in the air by the aeronaut Henry Giffard at above the Tuileries during the Exhibition. The use of panoramas remained very popular, especially during the Universal Exhibition of 1900, then gradually disappeared after the turn of the century, dethroned by the rise of photography and then cinematographic film.

  • architecture
  • Champ-de-Mars
  • Universal exhibitions
  • Paris
  • Trocadero Palace
  • city


Anne PINGEOT 1878, The first Universal Exhibition of the Republic Paris, RMN, 1988 Marc GAILLARD The Universal Exhibitions from 1855 to 1937 Paris, Les presses franciliennes, 2005.

To cite this article

Claire MAINGON, “Panorama of the Palaces”

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