The Paris Expositions Universelles and the other world's fairs of the nineteenth century were curious and spectacular cultural events. Sponsored by the host country's government, they were well-orchestrated public relations campaigns as well. These exhibitions provided the ideal forum for the host country to promote its notions of progress, nationalism, imperialism, unity, education, culture, entertainment, and commerce. They also served as some of the largest and earliest public venues for the exhibition of photography. Thus, the Expositions Universelles of 1855 and 1867 are rich points for study of particular moments in photographic history.
The first French exposition universelle was held in the center of Paris along the Champs Elysйes from May 15 to November 15, 1855. It was also the first international event where art was shown together with industrial products, albeit in separate buildings—art in the Palais des Beaux-Arts and industrial products in the Palais de l'Industrie and its Annexe. Photography was exhibited in the industrial division, in the same building as steam engines, gloves, animal skins, lacework, ironwork, food, and animal products, among other things. This classification made a strong statement about photography's accepted role and applications. It was clearly celebrated as one of the most important inventions of the nineteenth century with Louis Daguerre's name being carved on the faзade of the Palais de l'Industrie along with other great men. Photography's status as an art form was, however, hotly debated.
Photography was categorized in the twenty-sixth industrial class, "Letter and Block Printing, Photography" and had its own subcategory which included both photographic equipment and photographs. The submissions were selected by each country's subcommission and were exhibited in different locations throughout the Palais de l'Industrie as the exhibition space was divided between the different countries. An element of competition was created by the fact that an International Jury awarded four levels of prizes (grand gold medal, the first class medal, the second class medal, and honorable mention.). Interestingly, half of the jury was French and the other half of the jury was comprised of members from foreign countries proportional to the number of exhibitors. Not surprisingly, French exhibitors greatly outnumbered any other country and made up the majority of the prize winners. Approximately 180 different photographers were represented at the 1855 Exposition Universelle; 92 of them were French. The others came from Britain, other European countries, the British colonies, the United States, and Turkey.
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Keywords:1855, 1855 Paris Exposition Medal, Gold, J Gurney won Gold Medal, J Gurney won gold medal 1855, J Gurney won gold medal at Paris exposition 1855, Medal, Paris