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The Great Exhibition of 1851 took place at Hyde Park in a revolutionary glass and iron building known as the 'Crystal Palace'. It included over 13,000 exhibits and was the first international exhibition of manufactured products. It was extremely popular and attracted more than six million visitors - equivalent to a third of the population of Great Britain at the time. The profits from the exhibition were used to fund several science and art initiatives in South Kensington. They included what is now the Victoria and Albert Museum, whose earliest surviving building was erected 150 years ago.

The eleven watercolours featured here were made just before the Great Exhibition opened. They are part of a larger group of images that were reproduced both as colour and monochrome lithographs in different versions of Recollections of the Great Exhibition, a lavish contemporary souvenir guide.

Many of the objects in the illustrations can be identified in the four-volume catalogue of the exhibition. Copies of this can be accessed via the National Art Library.

The watercolours are recent acquisitions purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund, the Contributing Members of the Friends of the V&A and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. They were on display until 14th January 2008 and are now available to view via the Prints & Drawings Study Room. The colour lithographs are also available to view via the Prints & Drawings Study Room and the monochrome lithographs are available to view via the National Art Library.

Royal Commission Exhibition of 1851

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British Watercolours: 1750-1950

British Watercolours: 1750-1950

The art of watercolour has had a distinctive identity and history in Britain since the latter part of the eighteenth century, when British artists fir…

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The Museum of Savage Beauty

The Museum of Savage Beauty interactive web feature explores the hidden stories and craftsmanship behind some of the most remarkable objects made by Alexander McQueen and his creative collaborators. Here the designer's iconic pieces are placed alongside historical objects from the V&A’s collections, which represent some of the many design traditions that inspired him.

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Event - Botticelli Reimagined

Sat 05 March 2016–Sun 03 July 2016

EXHIBITION: This innovative exhibition explores the variety of ways artists and designers from the Pre-Raphaelites to the present have responded to the artistic legacy of Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), assembling 150 works from around the world. Botticelli is now celebrated as one of the greatest artists of all time, but was largely forgotten after his death until his work was progressively rediscovered in the 19th century.

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