Exposition Universelle de 1889

Paris, May 6–November 6, 1889

Esplanade des Invalides. Panoramic view of the exhibitions from the French colonies.

Esplanade des Invalides. Panoramic view of the exhibitions from the French colonies.

Since the mid-19th century, universal expositions were held in Paris every 11 years. In 1889 the event coincided with the centennial of the French Revolution. The commissioners rejected plans for a 300-meter-tall guillotine, selecting Gustave Eiffel's tower instead. They gathered a stunning array of exhibits and produced one of the most financially successful universal expositions ever.

The following views are a selection from image collections' Gramstorff Collection of glass-plate negatives. These negatives were part of the collection of the Soule Art Publishing Company, which operated in the Boston area from 1859 until after 1906. At that time, it was bought by Gramstorff Brothers Photographic Art Publishers. Soule purchased negatives in Europe to publish in the United States; most of these views are by the French photographic firms N.D. (Neurdein Frères), M.F., or J.D.

 

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  • Exposition Universelle de 1889 Paris, May 6–November 6, 1889 /content/dam/ngaweb/features/slideshows/Exposition-Universelle-de-1889/01champmar.jpg

    Panorama of the Champ-de-Mars

    Dôme Central and Palais des Industries Diverses: Joseph Antoine Bouvard, architect
    Galerie Desaix and Galerie Rapp: Jean Camille Formigé, architect
    Palais des Machines: Ferdinand Dutert, engineer; Victor Contamin, architect
    Fontaine Monumentale: Jules Félix Coutin, sculptor; Jean Camille Formigé, architect

    This view from the first level of the Eiffel Tower shows the Dôme Central and Palais des Industries Diverses, center; the Galerie Rapp, left; and Galerie Desaix, right. Behind the Palais des Industries Diverses is the Palais des Machines (also referred to as the Galerie des Machines). In front of the Dôme Central is the Fontaine Monumentale.

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    Dôme Central and Fontaine Monumentale

    Dôme Central: Joseph Antoine Bouvard, architect
    Fontaine Monumentale: Jules Félix Coutin, architect; Jean Camille Formigé, sculptor

    The elegant Dôme Central, nearly 200 feet tall, was surmounted by a 30-foot statue of France by Eugène Delaplanche. This focal point of the Champ-de-Mars was the central entry hall for the Palais des Industries Diverses.

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    Fontaine Monumentale

    Jules Félix Coutin, sculptor; Jean Camille Formigé, architect

    Also called the Fontaines Lumineuses, this fountain, near the Dôme Central, and its companion fountain beneath the Eiffel Tower performed hydraulic spectacles at 9:00 every evening. Thousands of fair visitors watched as the jets of the fountain were electrically illuminated to change color in red, blue, green, and gold.

    The sculpture of this fountain depicts the city of Paris lighting up the world with its torch, surrounded by science, industry, agriculture, and art. (The official title was "La Ville de Paris, sur son vaisseau, environnée de la Science, de l'Industrie, de l'Agriculture, de l'Art, éclaire le monde de son flambeau.")

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    Dôme Central, interior

    Joseph Antoine Bouvard, architect

    View from the main entrance of the interior hall beneath the dome; beyond it is the central hall of the Palais des Industries Diverses, the Galerie de Trente Mètres (30-meter gallery).

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    Dôme Central, interior

    Joseph Antoine Bouvard, architect

    View to the left of the entrance door into the Gobelins tapestry manufacturing section. The frieze by Lavastre and Carpezat shows the people of the world arriving at the Champs-de-Mars in their national costumes. The four corners of the dome were supported on piers with medallions designating steam, electricity, air, and water.

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    Eiffel Tower (Tour de 300 mètres)

    Gustave Eiffel, designer; Stephen Sauvestre, architect;
    Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier, engineers

    The Eiffel Tower is the only surviving structure from the 1889 exposition. This view was taken from the Palais du Trocadéro.

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    Eiffel Tower (Tour de 300 mètres)

    Gustave Eiffel, designer; Stephen Sauvestre, architect;
    Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier, engineers

    View from the Seine. Gustave Eiffel’s tower was greatly criticized during its two-year construction period as being an "abomination and eyesore," its "barbarous mass" looming over the Paris skyline. When the fair opened, however, it became the most visited attraction and subsequently the grand symbol of Paris that it is today.

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    Palais des Arts Libéraux, from beneath the Eiffel Tower

    Jean Camille Formigé, architect

    The liberal arts exhibited here included archaeology, anthropology, astronomy, chemistry, physics, medicine and surgery, precision instruments, transportation, military arts, and theater. Also included were the Japanese print collection of Siegfried Bing and an extensive history of labor.

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    Palais des Beaux-Arts

    Jean Camille Formigé, architect

    Both the Palais des Beaux-Arts and the Palais des Arts Libéraux were
    iron structures clad in plaster ornament. This gallery displayed
    French and international paintings and sculpture.

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    Palais des Beaux-Arts, interior

    Jean Camille Formigé, architect

    View of the central sculpture gallery

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    Palais des Machines

    Ferdinand Dutert, architect; Victor Contamin, engineer

    View of the interior. This innovative iron and glass structure was the largest building in the exposition, enclosing 15 acres. Its most extensive exhibit was that of Thomas Edison’s 493 inventions. Referred to at the time as a "disconcerting industrial cathedral," the Palais des Machines was reused for the Exposition Universelle of 1900 and demolished in 1909.

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    Pavilion of Bolivia

    Paul Fouquiau, architect

    Bolivia’s mining and silver resources were highlighted in this domed and turreted pavilion.

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    Pavilion of Brazil

    Louis Dauvergne, architect

    Brazil’s pavilion was built by a Parisian architect in a neo-Portuguese nautical style, with sculpture along one side representing the rivers of Brazil. Displayed inside were exhibits illustrating Brazil's immense agricultural resources, including native chocolate and vanilla beans and sugar cane. The pavilion was surrounded by a garden of exquisite flowers, banana and palm trees, and orchids.

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    Pavilion of Venezuela

    Edmond Jean Baptiste Paulin, architect

    The Venezuelan pavilion was constructed in a highly sculptural Spanish Renaissance
    revival style, with a small side veranda featuring the national colors yellow, red, and blue.

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    Egyptian Bazaar and Cairo Street (Rue du Caire)

    This was the second most popular attraction at the exposition after the Eiffel Tower.
    A Cairo street was recreated, which included 25 authentic shops and restaurants
    employing scores of native Egyptian waiters, vendors, and craftsmen.

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    Central African and Lapland Houses

    Charles Garnier, architect

    At the base of the Eiffel Tower, 44 small buildings were constructed in the styles of various epochs and cultures. The architect was the famous designer of the Paris Opera, assisted by Professor Amman from the department of history and geography at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. This view shows African and Lapland dwellings.

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    Persian, Germanic, and Gallic Houses

    Charles Garnier, architect

    Garnier’s "Habitations Humaines" re-created 44 different stylistic and ethnic periods. In this view, a Persian dwelling is on the extreme left; the center wooden structure on stilts is an early Germanic dwelling; and behind the large plant is a circular Gallic hut.

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    Pavilion Brault

    Marcel Deslignieres, architect

    Also on the Champs-de-Mars were pavilions built by commercial companies. In the foreground is the pavilion of the Brault ceramic firm, built entirely in ceramics in an early French Renaissance style. The pavilion for the Boas Frères diamond-cutting firm is in the left background.

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    Esplanade des Invalides

    Panoramic view of the exhibitions from the French colonies

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    Palais des Colonies (Palace of the Colonies)

    Stephen Sauvestre, architect

    Central exhibition building of the French overseas colonies in Southeast Asia and Africa

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    Palace of Annan and Tonkin

    Henri Vildieu, architect

    This palace represented the protectorates of Annan and Tonkin, which, along with Cochin China, Laos, and Cambodia, were part of the recently formed federation of Indochina. Annan, Tonkin, and Cochin China were later united to become Vietnam. Architect Henri Vildieu was the adjutant-architect for civil buildings of Indochina in Saigon. The building reproduces the principal porch of the pagoda of Quan-Yen.

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    Pavilion of Cochin China

    Alfred Foulhoux, architect

    This templelike pavilion represented the French colony of Cochin China, which, along with Annan and Tonkin, later became Vietnam. Architect Alfred Foulhoux was the director of public works in Cochin China.

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    Pagoda of Angkor

    Albert Maurice Fabre, architect

    Panorama with pagoda on the left and entrance to the Javanese village on the right. The houses in the Kampong Javanais came directly from Java, as did the popular Javanese dancers. Architect Albert Maurice Fabre was the chief of public works in Phnom Penh.

  • Exposition Universelle de 1889 Paris, May 6–November 6, 1889 /content/dam/ngaweb/features/slideshows/Exposition-Universelle-de-1889/24indienne.jpg

    Pagoda of Angkor

    Albert Maurice Fabre, architect

    This pagoda was styled after the Khmer temples at Angkor Wat
    in what was then the French protectorate of Cambodia.

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