View of the display of Italian statuary in the Italian Court's display 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.

In addition to the main permanent Exhibition Building, two permanent annexes as well as a large, central wooden temporary annexe was constructed to house the courts of various countries, or to include larger items from countries already represented in the main Building.

The Italian Court in the Great Hall was situated in the eastern nave, immediate to the left of the main eastern entrance into the Exhibition Building. The reputation of the Italian Court as one of the 'leading attractions' had already been established the previous year at the 1879 Sydney International Exhibition, where the displays of decorative marble and bronze statuary were highly regarded.

Although the Melbourne International Exhibition opened on the 1 October 1880, by the end of the month only approximately 10% of the statuary had been unpacked and put on display. Nonetheless, 'some splendid specimens of the sculptor's art are already open to view', a journalist for the South Australian Register wrote. 'The collection was to have included Tabacchi's lovely statue of 'The Divine Girl,' which was greatly admired at the Paris Exhibition, where it carried off the first prize, but unfortunately one of the limbs got broken on the voyage out, and consequently it has to be relegated to the Hospital instead of the Exhibition.'

In the immediate left foreground is a bronze casting of the figure of Cain by Tuscan sculptor Giovanni Duprè (1817-1882), the original marble version of which is held in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, with another bronze casting being held in the collections of the Galleria d'arte moderna, Palazzo Pitti, Florence.

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: interior view showing statues lining both walls of the main hall in the Italian court.

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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