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After 1851The Material and Visual Cultures of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham$
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Kate Nichols and Sarah Victoria Turner

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780719096495

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719096495.001.0001

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From Ajanta to Sydenham: ‘Indian’ art at the Sydenham Palace

From Ajanta to Sydenham: ‘Indian’ art at the Sydenham Palace

(p.122) 6 From Ajanta to Sydenham: ‘Indian’ art at the Sydenham Palace
After 1851

Sarah Victoria Turner

Manchester University Press

Discussions about the display of Indian art and material culture in the Victorian imperial metropolis have largely focused on the Great Exhibition of 1851 and its progeny, the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum). However, the Crystal Palace at Sydenham Hill was an important, but much overlooked, location of imperial and colonial display well into the twentieth century. This essay begins by examining the Sydenham Palace at a site of imperial spectacle from its opening in 1854 and well into the twentieth century. Relevant events included the African Exhibition of 1895, the opening of the Victoria Cross Gallery in the same year and the Colonial Exhibition of 1905, and the display of Major Robert Gill’s copies of the frescoes from the Buddhist rock-cut temples at Ajanta in India (until they were destroyed by fire in 1866). The crowning occasion in the Sydenham series of imperial events was the Festival of Empire in 1911 which celebrated the ascension of George V as ‘King-Emperor’. Taking the 1911 Festival as a case study, this essay explores the complex and often conflicting narratives of empire that were communicated through the courts and grounds at Sydenham.

Keywords:   Colonialism, Empire, Material culture, Exhibition, Festival of Empire, Ajanta, Copying, India

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