William E. Orme
The Crystal Palace (commemorative textile length)
William E. Orme, engraver, printer
The Crystal Palace (commemorative textile length), ca. 1851
Cotton; plain weave, roller printed, glazed
Length: 69.9 cm (27 1/2 inches)
Gift of Mrs. Constance Wharton Smith 58.165.44
This design is based on the frontispiece of John Tallis’s three-volume work (1852) about the Crystal Palace, which housed the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, the first huge international exposition of the nineteenth century. The commemorative textile depicts visitors from far and wide thronging the spectacular iron-and-glass building by Joseph Paxton. The nineteenth century was a period of unprecedented growth for technology and science. The steam-driven loom, new printing technology, railroads, and mail-order delivery revolutionized textile production and distribution. The cloth was spun, woven, and printed in the textile center of Manchester, England (also known as King Cotton).