Art and Empire - Wembley, 1924

By August, Tom | History Today, October 1993 | Go to article overview

Art and Empire - Wembley, 1924


August, Tom, History Today


On St. George's Day, April 23rd, 1924, the British Empire came to Wembley in a colourful display of imperial solidarity. Unlike the earlier exhibitions of 1886 and 1899 or the colonial participations at the Jubilee celebrations of 1887 and 1897, the Wembley extravaganza was first and foremost a stocktaking of imperial resources, the purpose being to increase public awareness about colonial production and thereby maximize intra-imperial trade. Though previous exhibitions had presented the products of a particular territory, Wembley was, as the billboards advertised, |the empire in microcosm'. Never before had the British public been treated to such a comprehensive survey of the peoples, cultures and economies that comprised the empire.

Wembley afforded the imperialist movement in Britain an ideal educational opportunity to acquaint the public with its overseas offspring. The Great War, only recently concluded, clearly documented the value of the empire as a Kriegsverein (military union). Now, locked in a struggle for economic recovery and continued great power status, Britain, so imperialists argued, would need to depend more than ever on its empire. As markets for home manufactures and suppliers of primary products, the dominions and colonies allegedly held the key to the economic future of the metropole.

The British Empire Exhibition of 1924-25 consisted of three main areas. Firstly, His Majesty's Government building housed the exhibits of the various ministries along with the Department of Overseas Trade, the Imperial Institute and the Overseas Settlement Office. Secondly, the Imperial Section formed the centrepiece of the exhibition, displaying the industrial and agricultural products of the empire in pavilions that invoked the exotic splendours of Africa and the Far East. Interestingly, the dominion buildings were all ponderously neoclassical in style with the exception of South Africa whose pavilion suggested an authentic architecture. Lastly, the Metropolitan Section presented British industry, engineering and art, advertised by The Times as |the ripened fruits of all the wisdom and invention of the ages'. Here, adjacent to the Palace of Engineering, the metropolitan section constructed the Palace of Arts, which housed the art of Britain, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India and Burma. Empire art, however, occupied only the north-eastern third of the exhibition; the greater space officials reserved for metropolitan art, along with the highly popular Queen's Dolls' House, the most highly publicised exhibit at Wembley.

Why, at an exposition highlighting the empire, did the organisers of the Palace of Arts exhibit empire painters in the metropolitan section of the park? According to Sir Lawrence Weaver, (director of the United Kingdom Exhibits) in the 1924 Catalogue of the Palace of Arts, dominion artists were transplanted Britishers and thus part of the great tradition:

The British Empire Exhibition has for the first time made possible the assembling under one roof of the paintings of today, not only from the United Kingdom, but from every Dominion of the Crown. Now first can be seen in one place how the Daughter Nations have developed their art from the English School which is represented so splendidly in the Retrospective Galleries.

In this regard the Palace of Arts illustrated the Wembley theme of empire as family. Wembley, the |first show of British art of a truly Imperial nature', would, in the words of the Prince of Wales of the same year, show to the world |the part which our race has played in the development of the arts'.

The arrogant and antiquated assumption that dominion art was but an extension of the metropolis created considerable tension in the planning of the Palace of Arts. After all, the rumblings of dominion nationhood were by 1924 clearly audible in London. At the Imperial War Conference of 1917, the dominion representatives demanded constitutional equality with the metropolis. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Art and Empire - Wembley, 1924
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.