REIGN OF VICTORIA

The greater portion of the nineteenth century is looked upon as Victorian. The young queen who ascended the throne of Great Britain in 1837 soon showed that she was destined to be a popular sovereign, and one who would make her tastes and character felt throughout her vast dominions. Art as we like to understand it was at a low ebb, and it required some one with strength of will and determined purpose to bring into prominence the arts of the sciences then dormant. The Prince Consort when he was settled in this country realised the need of some-thing more than mere trade activity to improve the commercial products of this country and make them more attractive. With this in view he set about the creation of a great display of art in short, an exhibition in which the more artistic products of foreign markets could be placed side by side with those of British craftsmen. It was the first great competitive exhibition of its kind, and its success was very marked ; the Great Exhibition of 1851 was indeed a landmark in the history of productive art, and its usefulness commercially was the means of starting several others, notably one in Dublin, called the Great Industrial Exhibition, in 1853, and another in Paris shortly afterwards ; then these were followed by a second Great Exhibition in London in 1862. At these Exhibitions art was a special feature, and silversmiths made several notable exhibits, Messrs. Elkington and others showing that they were well able to produce modern plate of an artistic character worthy of taking its place among the rich stores of family silver, although it would probably be a long time before it could be classed with the antique.