- This book, illustrating many of the most important paintings and sculptures selected for exhibition in the Art Department of the World's Columbian Exposition, - an exposition greater in plan, scope, and achievement than any other that has been undertaken in the whole history of the world, - is prepared for two classes of persons - those who visit the Exposition and those who may not be so fortunate.
To those who visit the Exposition, it aims to be, in some sense, a preparation and a guide. It points out works especially worthy of attention and study among the hundreds of masterpieces by the leading artists of the various countries of the world; it designates the sections and galleries where these particular works may be found; it gives a complete, numbered plan of the galleries of the Art Palace, showing the sections respectively occupied by the different nations (so that one may find one's way among them with the greatest ease) and, lastly, it presents data concerning the artists whose works are illustrated, - data which, though necessarily brief, is extremely valuable in usually affording clues to the origin of special characteristics in the technique of their works, thus often aiding one better to understand and appreciate them.
 - After the Exposition is over, and its magnificent display of art has become only an influence and a memory, the illustrations herein given will serve to freshen fading recollections and will bring back to the mind a measure of the splendors of the great event for which the year 1893 - indeed, the nineteenth century itself - promises to be especially noted.
To those who may not visit the Exposition, the illustrations of the art exhibits will convey an idea of them that could be obtained in no other manner so effective or adequate. Being engraved directly from photographs of the works, the illustrations are absolutely accurate in detail. They lack only size and color.
Through this publication, prepared with the sanction and under the diret supervision of the Art Department, it is the aim to stimulate interest in art and to assist those desiring to take advantage of the great opportunity which the art exhibit offers for study. It is hoped that the book may find appreciation not only in the present, but that, in future, it may be esteemed precious as a souvenir and valuable as a record.
Primarily, the object of an exposition may be assumed to be educational. By bringing together productions of various classes from all portions of the globe opportunity is afforded for study and comparison. Each exhibitor may learn something from almost every other exhibitor in his class which may be to his advantage, and which may lead to the improvement of that which he produces, whether it be in the domain of the art or manufacture. At the same time, the general visitor to the Exposition likewise may gain new ideas, and correct impressions that have been formed upon insufficient or erroneous data.
The measure of the value of an exposition is determined by the number of important countries represented by exhibits, the characteristic and comprehensive nature of these exhibits, and their  excellence in quality, according to the standards of the countries from which they come.
These considerations were kept constantly in mind by the authorities of the Art Department of the World's Columbian Exposition. The Chief of the Art Department, Professor Halsey C. Ives, after formulating plans for the organization of the American Section, visited France, England, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Poland, Austria, Austro-Hungary, Italy, and Spain, where he conferred with prominent government officials, leading artists, the heads of the great art museums, academies, and schools, noted collectors of art works, and others, with the aim of creating such interest in the Exposition and its Art Department that characteristic and excellent exhibits might be secured from all these countries. In every case it was urged that the exhibit be made from the standpoint of quality rather than quantity, and this consideration found favor with the various foreign commissioners.
As a result of Professor Ives's visits abroad, applications for space in the Art Department were made by every country which had been visited. These applications, in almost every case, called for amounts of space far exceeding what it was possible to assign. Indeed, from foreign governments alone, the applications for wall-space aggregated nearly 300,000 square feet. The total wall-space of the Art Gallery is about 200,000 square feet. After reserving 35,000 square feet for the American Section, there remained about 165,000 square feet to be distributed among all the foreign countries applying for space. And this is not a small amount; it is more than double the space that was occupied by foreign countries in the Art Department of the Centennial Exhibition, held in Philadelphia in 1876.
The countries that are represented officially in the Art Department of the World's Columbian Exposition are France, Germany, Great Britain, Austria, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Norway,  Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Canada, Mexico, and Japan. The largest amount of space assigned to any country has been reserved for the United States; and next in order come France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Belgium, and Austria. France received 29,200 square feet. The smallest assignment has been made to Mexico, - one of the few countries receiving all the space asked for, - 1500 square feet.
As nearly every country's assignment of space is so far less than the amount asked for, the result was, as might have been expected, the exercise of greater discrimination in the selection of exhibits than otherwise might have seemed warranted, and this has been really of very great advantage to the art exhibit as a whole; the standard of excellence thereby being raised much higher than usually has obtained in international exhibitions.
Undoubtedly there is at this Exposition a better general representation of the world's art than has been made at any exposition in the past. Excellent, in the main, as have been the French expositions, they have very slightly represented German art, and on the other hand, the German expositions have contained little or no French. Russia art has been seen very little outside of Russia, and the Scandinavian artists have not received adequate attention in the great expositions of the past. English art was largely represented at the Centennial Exhibition, but the selection of the works shown was not made with anything like the degree of discrimination exercised in the choice of works for the British Section in the World's Columbian Exposition.
The selection of exhibits from the various foreign countries in most cases was made by committees of artists, working under the jurisdiction of Art Commissioners appointed by the goverment of the country. In France, M. Antonin Proust was made the Art Commissioner - a most excellent appointment. M. Proust, it will be remembered, was the Director of the Art Department of the French International Exposition of 1889. He was Minister of Arts  in the Gambetta Cabinet, and is widely recognized as one of the highest authorities on French art - both of the past and the present. After having thoroughly organized the French art exhibit - in which work he was most ably assisted by M. A. Barthelemy, - M. Proust resigned, and M. Roger Ballu was then appointed Commissioner. M. Ballu had been editor of l'Art, was President and had been one of the founders of the French Society of Pastellists, etc. M. Ballue took up the work where M. Proust laid it down, and admirably carried it to completion. In this he was efficiently assisted by M. Henri Giudicelli, who came to install the exhibits.
Mr. H. W. Mesdag, famous as an artist and as one of the most enlightened art collectors in Europe, was appointed Art Commissioner for the Netherlands. Mr. Mesdag supervised the formation of the Dutch exhibit, while Mr. Huber Vos, the distinguished painter, was placed in charge of affairs as Acting Commissioner in this country. In Great Britain, the interests of the Art Section were committed to the Royal Soceity of Arts, which appointed a committee to look after the collection of an exhibit. Of this committee, Sir Frederick Leighton, President of the Royal Academy, was made the head. Herr Schnars-Alquist, noted as a marine painter, wisely was selected by his government to organize the German art exhibit. Professor Ernest Slingeneyer, the historical painter, was placed in charge of Belgian art interests. Signor Giulio Monteverde, the sculptor, was made the president of the central committee for Italy. Later, Signor Angelo del Nero was appointed Commissioner of Fine Arts by his government, and to his efficient services the Italian art exhibit mainly is due. Mr. Anders Zorn, one of the most celebrated painters of his country, was appointed Commissioner of Fine Arts for Sweden, and admirably has served his country in this capacity. All these gentlemen entered upon their respective tasks with a degree of enthusiasm that soon was communicated to the artists, and led to the bringing forward of the best work obtainable from all quarters. The care with which  selections were made from the almost innumerable productions offered is attested by the exhibits in the various foreign sections. In this connection, mention must be made of the very valuable service which Mr. S. Tegima, of Japan, rendered his government - as well as the Exposition - in organizing and installing the remarkable Japanese exhibit. Never before this time has Japan been represented in the Art Department of an International Exposition; but never before has the country been given such an opportunity. Recognizing the radical differences between Japanese art and that of the western world, the authorities of the Art Department of the Columbian Exposition did not bind Japanese art exhibitors to the rigid classification established for other nations, but urged that the exhibit be made thoroughly national in character - exactly such an exhibit as would be formed under a classification devised for an art exhibition to be held in Japan. Mr. Tegima, appreciating this opportunity, embraced and has made the most of it.
The foreign artists has a powerful incentive to send their best works to America aside from their disposition to do everything possible to enhance the credit of their respective countries in art production. During the past few years they have seen the United States become one of the greatest markets for art works in the world. They have noted the stupendous prices that have been paid by our millionaire collectors for famous pictures in the public sales in Paris, London, and New York, and they have observed the steady stream of art productions of the highest excellence - both ancient and modern - coming from France, Holland, Germany, and England. Every foreign artist, therefore, appreciated the value of the reputation he might gain by an exhibit of especially noteworthy productions.
The American artists likewise had an incentive to make the best possible exhibit; here was the opportunity to show that the works of American artists could stand comparison with the productions of the artists of the other nations. With the endeavor of securing the best possible exhibit of American art, the  Exposition authorities, at the instance of the Chief of the Art Department, appointed Advisory Committees - consisting of painters, sculptors, architects, engravers, and the followers of other branches of art - to look after the interests of American artists in those sections of this country and Europe which were considered especial centres of American art activity . Such committees were established in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Paris, Munich, London, Rome, and Florence, and their membership comprised many of the ablest and most distinguished artists this country has produced.
When the time arrived for the selection of works to be exhibited in Chicago, the various Advisory Committees were constituted juries by a system involving an interchange of service amongst the members of different committees, thus securing to each jury a national rather than a strictly local character. Artists residing in the central, western, southern, and extreme northern portions of the United States had the privilige of submitting their works to a national jury in Chicago. This jury was composed of artists chosen from different sections of the country.
In order to secure a retrospective exhibit of American art, a special committee was appointed, having representatives in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston; this committee solicited from public institutions and private owner such works as its members believed best would represent the historical development of art in America. This exhibit is exceedingly interesting. It includes notable works by American painters who were famous in their day, and justly so, but who, in later times, are almost forgotten - owing to the fact that general art-interest has been absorbed by work of more modern methods, though often of less truly artistic character.
The interesting exhibit of noteworthy foreign paintings belonging to American collections was formed through the kindness of prominent picture owners, from whom they were specially solicited.
One of the most noteworthy exhibits in the Art Department is the collection of casts duplicating reproductions of monumental  works shown in the Museum of Comparative Sculpture in the Palace of the Trocadero, Paris. These casts not only illustrate the history of the French sculpture, but also the development of architecture as a fine art in France during mediaeval and later times. They comprise examples of the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and some of the more modern work. Some of the casts, reproducing large portions of the facades of cathedrals, churches, monasteries, and other important structures are of very considerable size and of remarkable elaboration in detail. A portion of this collection (casts to the value of over 50,000 francs) generously was presented to the Exposition by the French Government upon the condition that, at the close of the Exposition, these casts should become the property of the American Art Museum.
The Art Gallery is one of the most beautiful of all the Exposition structures. The architecture is Ionic of the most refined type, the order being taken from the Erechtheum of the Acropolis at Athens. The galleries and courts for the exhibition of paintings and sculptures are of varying proportions, are lighted from above, and the structure is fire-proof. The three great sections - the Central, East, and West Pavilions - aggregate, in extreme length, 1152 feet, and in depth 504 feet. The main walls are of brick, covered with "staff," a composition of plaster-of-Paris and other ingredients, which has, when finished, the appearance of stone. The roof is of iron, steel, and glass, and all columns, staircases, etc., are of iron. There are eight galleries, ranging in size from 30 feet square to 36 by 120 feet, for the exhibition of paintings, besides one hundred and eight alcoves, fronting upon the courts of the Central Pavilion - twenty-eight on the first floor and eighty on the second - giving additional wall space. There are four large courts and a rotunda in the Central Pavilion, and a rotunda in each of the other pavilions for the exhibition of sculptures and architectural works. From the exterior architectural standpoint, the Art Palace justly may be considered one of the chief of the art exhibits."
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