Cheers to Queen Victoria
September 22, 2010 — March 20, 2011
The reign of Queen Victoria from 1837–1901 was a golden age of industrial and commercial expansion in Britain, and this Chrysler exhibition looks at one example of the change and progress of that era—decorative glass.
We’ll start our story at The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations, held in 1851 in London’s Hyde Park. The huge show was intended to show off the advancement and superiority of British manufactured goods to the world, and it was successful, but only to a point.
Many British citizens, including a growing middle-class population, were exposed to a new world of design, technology, and the arts, and while they saw British excellence in manufacturing expertise and output, they saw other nations (such as France) leading the way in creative and artistic design.
The design of glass, both unique and mass produced, was regarded as an essential part of the decorative vocabulary, and the British were eager to gain worldwide pre-eminence. Spurred on by tax breaks, regulatory changes and technological advances, and fueled by a growing consumer market, the British glass industry exploded in both creativity and productivity. That explosion is represented here by a wide range of pieces in a wide range of styles, all connected and rooted in a very special time and place.