Nelson’s Views of the Crystal Palace (The Interior)


Fred Peskett


            Nelson published several little souvenir books about the Crystal Palace. The views of the “Interior” are quite interesting. It is known that at least two versions were published, each version contains twelve chromolithograph views on cards held loose in a green coloured folder. The cards are all uniform in size measuring 6.5” wide x 4.125” high. One set has rounded corners, the other has square corners, eight of the cards are common to both sets but four cards in each set are different.

            The set with the rounded corners features four of the views of areas in the Crystal Palace which were destroyed by the fire of 1866, the square cornered version has these views replaced with other views including one showing an external view of the Crystal Palace. It is probable that the rounded corner version was the first printing. Circa 1856 to 1866, and the square cornered version published to reflect the changes in the Palace after the fire, possibly between 1866 to 1870. 1870 is given as a date because the external view shows the “Water Temples” which were removed in 1870, but it also shows the North Transept, destroyed in 1866 and not re-built. It does seem rather strange that this view was included in a series marked as the “Interior”, perhaps no other view of the interior was available at the time of publication.

The views contained in each set are as follows:-

            Rounded corners (1st)                          Square Corners (2nd)

                  Court of Lions.                                        Court of Lions.

                  Facade of the N.E. Arts Court.                Facade of the N.E. Arts Court.

                  Vestibule of N.E. Arts Court.                   Vestibule of N.E. Arts Court.

                  Nave and Crystal Fountain.                      Nave and Crystal Fountain.

                  Facade of Mediaeval Court.                    Facade of Mediaeval Court.

                  Pompeian House.                                    Pompeian House.

                  Byzantine Court.                                      Byzantine Court.

                  Great Orchestra.                                      Great Orchestra.

                  Tropical Department.                               Renaissance Court.

                  Egyptian Court.                                       Mediaeval Court.

                  Great Egyptian Figures.                            Bronze Fountain.

                  Mammoth Tree.                                       View of the Crystal Palace.

            There is one other feature that is slightly different, that is the intensity of the colour. The general colouring is sepia and black background with added blue and lilac, the rounded corner versions are much deeper in colour than the square corner versions.


© Exhibition Study Group 2012