Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Art History


Linda Nochlin

Committee Members

John Rewald

Diane Kelder

Jack Spector

Subject Categories

History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology


During the Second Empire (1852-1870), the world of art changed rapidly from one that had preserved many aspects of centuries old tradition, to one that developed most of the attitudes and institutions of our modern era. Universal Expositions, combining art and politics, acted as catalysts for many of these changes. This study attempts to assess the significance of these first international exhibitions of contemporary art, presented in the context of Industry and Commerce. It treats in depth the painting of France, England, Belgium, and Germany, and the fate of history, genre, and landscape painting during this period. It also examines the development of such modern concepts as paid admission, retrospective shows, the split between popular and cultivated taste, and the disenfranchised avant-garde.

Part One, "The Origins of Universal Expositions in France," analyzes traditional rivalries between Academy and Guild, and traces the parallel histories of exhibitions of art and of craft in France. Extended treatment is given to the series of Expositions publiques des produits de l'industrie francaise (1798-1849) and to the first Great Exhibition of Products of Industry of All Nations, held in London in 1851. Part Two, "The Universal Exposition of 1855: The Apotheosis of Eclecticism," describes the results of the Government's attempt to obtain the support of all factions by proclaiming eclecticism the Genius of France, arranging individual retrospective exhibitions for leading French artists regardless of style, and attempting to depoliticize art. Part Three, "The Universal Exposition of 1867: The Death of History Painting," discusses the combination of factors which resulted in the widespread recognition that the Great Age of History Painting was over. This event also marked the triumph of Bourgeois taste, genre painting succeeding that of history, small intimate painting replacing the large public painting of the first half century, thus bringing to a close the Second Empire.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.