This module seeks to provide a detailed overview of the history of free-standing, architectural and relief sculpture, from the ancient Egyptian to the mid-nineteenth century, as articulated and understood within a single Victorian exhibition context.
Opened in 1854, in the enlarged and relocated buildings of the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Crystal Palace, Sydenham sought to tell the history of world culture through a series of historical and geographical courts – Egyptian, Assyrian, Alhambra, Greek, Roman, Pompeian, Byzantine and Romanesque, Medieval, Renaissance and Modern - housing thousands of plaster-cast reconstructions of representative objects and architectural fragments.
Visited by some 100 million people before it was finally razed to the ground in 1936, the Crystal Palace, Sydenham represented a perhaps still unprecedentedly encompassing art-historical canon for a popular audience, and a space in which Victorian curators and consumers were able to articulate and experience views on any number of issues, cultures and their inter-relations.
This module offers a sustained engagement with the surviving visual images of the Crystal Palace, Sydenham, alongside its various guide-books, to explore the ways in which the Victorians imagined, articulated and engaged with the cultures of world sculpture across a long durée, and, in so doing, with their own position as eminent modern subjects in an emphatically eclectic and cosmopolitan world.
By the end of the module students should have acquired:
Module code HOA00018I