Thursday, 8 June 2017

Lace at the Great Exhibition 1851

I was delighted recently to buy a copy of The Art Journal Illustrated Catalogue of the Great Exhibition showing beautiful engravings of many of the items exhibited including some of the lace. The image here shows the border of a Brussels lace veil exhibited by M Delehaye and notes that the company also exhibited gracefully designed lace handkerchiefs, although sadly none are depicted in the catalogue. The caption to the lace says ‘Brussels lace, that magnet of attraction to ladies, is contributed in great abundance and beauty, by many famed manufacturers of the Belgian capital’ so a visitor to the exhibition would clearly have seen many more beautiful examples of lace. What has struck me is how clearly the engravings depict the details of each item in the catalogue, whether they are textiles, metals, ceramics, glass, furniture or machinery. It must have been a mammoth task to draw and engrave so many items in such detail, yet as far as I can see there is no acknowledgement of any of the people involved in the production of the catalogue, in the same way as the craftsmen who produced all the beautiful exhibits remain nameless.

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