View of the Fine Art Gallery display in the Victorian Court, on the northern wall of the western nave in the Great Hall at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition held at the Exhibition Buildings, Carlton Gardens, between 1 October 1880 and 30 April 1881.

The picture galleries of the various countries were situated on the first floor balconies of the main Exhibition Building. The Victorian Court occupied the north-western balcony area, and continued along the western wall of the north transept of the Building. The British picture galleries were located on the opposing, eastern wall of the transept, but due to the large volume of British works sent out, and the available wall space in the Victorian Court opposite, several British works were hung alongside those by local artists.

Reflecting a particular sentiment towards local art at the time, one critic writing for the Argus newspaper observed that, 'the leniency of the Fine Art Jury has been the means of admitting something like a hundred productions which it would have been better to have excluded.' Fortunately, the critic noted, 'a firm stand was made by the jury against the admission of some pictures which were so bad that they could not be looked at without a shudder'.

This is one of sixty-one photographs in a presentation photograph album titled '1880 Melbourne International Exhibition' presented to Thomas B. Hill. Hill was the Assistant Secretary of the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition. This leather bound album was given to Hill, and all the Exhibition Commissioners, by the Exhibition Trustees. The photographer is believed to be Ludovico Hart, acting on a private commission from the Exhibition Trustees.

Description of Content

International Exhibition at Exhibition Building, Melbourne, 1880: view of the Victorian Fine Arts Gallery.

Physical Description

Monochrome, gold-toned, silver gelatin photograph in a black leather bound album with decorative gold tooled border and gold tooled lettering in centre of front cover. Inside, 61 monochrome photographic plates showing exterior and interior views of the 1880 International Exhibition, held at the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne. Each photograph is mounted on heavy buff coloured card and has a simple black line border with a title beneath the photograph.


The Royal Exhibition Building has played an important role in Melbourne's social commercial and sporting life since it was built for the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880. The building's size and scale provide us with a physical example of 'boom-time' Melbourne in 1880. The international exhibitions of the late 1800s provided the fledgling Australian colonies with a forum in which to showcase their progress in commerce and industry to the world. This album is significant for its detailed visual record of the first international exhibition held in Melbourne. It has clear views of the colonial & international courts, as well as specific prominent exhibits. It also provides a contemporary view of the Exhibition Building interior and exterior in the year it was constructed.

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