This watercolour depicts the Crystal Palace in its second existence at Sydenham Hill. After the huge success of the Great Exhibition in 1851, Hyde Park had to be returned to its original state as had been agreed by Parliament. Sir Joseph Paxton petitioned for his architectural masterpiece to be moved, in order to remain as a London landmark for years to come. It was bought for £500,000 by the Crystal Palace Company and re-erected in south-east London in the grounds of a mansion called Penge Place.
The Sydenham Crystal Palace was opened by Queen Victoria on the 10th June, 1854 and became known as the 'Palace of the People'. For eighty-two years it was beloved by everyone, until sadly, after many incidents, it burned to the ground in 1936.
The Tropical Department in the North Wing (depicted in this watercolour) was totally destroyed by a fire in 1866, along with many other departments.
We assume that this picture was commissioned by Paxton to show his vision for the building and the interior departments, thus his signature in pencil on the lower right hand side. Unfortunately, we have not been able to ascertain who Paxton might have asked to paint this watercolour.
Christies are most grateful to David Lancaster for his help in cataloguing the above lot.