The Shows of London

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Harvard University Press, Jan 1, 1978 - History - 553 pages
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A berserk elephant gunned down in the heart of London, a machine for composing Latin hexameters, and the original rock band (1841)‚e"these are but three of the sights that London curiosity‚e"seekers from every walk of life paid to see from the Elizabethan era to the mid‚e"Victorian period. Examining hundreds of the wonderfully varied exhibitions that culminated in the Crystal Palace of 1851, this generously illustrated book sheds light on a vast and colorful expanse of English social history that has thus far remained wholly unsurveyed.

Drawing on a wealth of never-before-used information, Mr. Altick traces London exhibitions as they evolved from the display of relics in pre-Reformation churches, through the collections of eighteenth-century virtuosi, to the first science museums and public art galleries. He also narrates for the first time the history of the panorama and diorama as an influential genre of nineteenth-century popular art. At every point, the London shows are linked to the prevailing intellectual atmosphere and to trends in public taste.

The material is fresh and fascinating; the range--from freaks to popular science, from the funeral effigies at Westminster Abbey to Madame Tussaud's waxworks--impressive. Like the exhibitions that best served the Victorian ideal of mass culture, The Shows of London is both entertaining and informative.

  

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User Review  - Mark - Goodreads

One of my favorite books. Serious scholarship, fascinating subject, great (and rare) illustrations, elephants, crime... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
16001750
5
MonsterMongers and Other Retailers of Strange Sights
34
Waxwork and Clockwork
50
Exhibitions of Mechanical Ingenuity
64
Water Fire Air and a Celestial Bed
77
The Sights and Resorts of EighteenthCentury London
87
Art on Display
99
The Ancient and the Exotic
288
Life and Death in the Animal Kingdom
302
Zoos and Pleasure Gardens
317
The Waxen and the Fleshly
332
More Mechanical Ingenuity
350
The Two Faces of Science
363
Technology for the Million
375
Artifacts and Models
390

The Eidophusikon
117
The Panorama in Leicester Square
128
A Panorama in a Pleasure Dome
141
The Diorama
163
Topics of the Times
173
The Theatrical Art of the Panorama
184
Panoramas in Motion
198
Scenes Optical Mechanical and Spectral
211
Exhibitions and London Life
221
William Bullock and the Egyptian Hall
235
Freaks in the Age of Improvement
253
The Noble Savage Reconsidered
268
Fine Art for the People
404
Inside the Exhibition Business
420
National Monuments
434
1851
455
New Patterns of Life and the Decline of the Panorama
470
The Old Order Changeth
483
Epilogue
504
Short Forms of Citation
512
Notes
513
Index
541
Copyright

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About the author (1978)

Richard D. Altick was Regents' Professor of English at Ohio State University. Among his numerous previously published works are The Scholar Adventurers, The English Common Reader, and Victorian People and Ideas.

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