French Commission Building

Centennial Exhibition
French Commission Building

Item Info

Item No: c090190
Title: French Commission Building
Additional Title: French Commission Building
Series: Lithograph
Media Type: Lithographs
Notes: "Franzosische Commission, Commission Francaise."

Lithograph Caption:

The Revolutionary ally of the struggling American States was rather slow in acceding to the idea of a participation in the Centennial Exposition. The cause may be ascribed to the half-hearted way in which Mr. Secretary Fish invited the attention of foreign governments to the display. For some time it was doubtful whether France took any interest in the Exhibition. When that government did come in, the delay was such as to affect all the preparations. When the Exhibition opened on May 10, the French department was behind those of other nations, and the special French buildings were scarcely commenced, the principal one, indeed, having met with misfortune in a high wind during the latter part of April. France is now represented by three buildings. The principal one may be said to be unexpectedly plain in appearance, presenting scarcely anything in the way of architectural elaboration beyond the most ordinary structure. The walls are of brick which is not of near as fine quality as the ordinary brick used in dwellings in Philadelphia. A slight attempt at ornament is made by interspersing through the walls black-headed bricks in crosses and diamond figures – a style of ornamentation common in the early brick edifices built in Philadelphia between Penn’s settlement and 1719-20. The roof is gabled, of moderate pitch, the cornice of galvanized iron, and pilasters of that metal are placed on the outside walls. The sides of the doorways are bordered with blue, black and white tiles which were brought from France. The arrangement strikes the spectator as peculiar, although, perhaps, he will not insist that it is beautiful. The large doors are of iron. The greater portion of the roof is of glass, which throws a strong light into the interior. The size of the building is 90 x 45 feet; height 30 feet. Architect and engineer, M. Lavonie. Builder, M. D’Hevigny. The object of this particular structure is the display of models of railroads, bridges, fortresses, dépôts, factories and public works. The situation is east of the annex to the Art Gallery, upon Lansdowne drive. The greater proportion of the materials came from France, and the building was erected by French workmen. Near by this Public Works building is the headquarters of the French commission in a pavilion 20 x 53 feet, which is noticeable from the stained glass which ornaments it. Another pavilion in the vicinity is constructed entirely of zinc. It is an octagon 24 feet in diameter, with an adjoining rectangular wing 27 feet long. This structure is intended for the exhibition of articles made of zinc. The French Ceramic Pavilion, for the display of pottery, tiles and bronzes, is near the Moorish villa, which is on the north side of Lansdowne drive and north of the Swedish school-house. It is built of iron and tiles. The contents show the skill of French artists in fine china vases and earthenware.

Notes: 1 lithograph; 12 x 22 cm.
Notes: Architect: De Dartein.
Notes: Removed from: Centennial portfolio / Thompson Westcott. Philadelphia : T. Hunter, 1876.
Notes: The Building, situated between two smaller pavilions (one being a French zinc pavillion), with people strolling in the foreground.
Creator Name: Westcott, Thompson. Centennial portfolio.
Thomas Hunter, lithographer.