When the Crystal Palace was rebuilt in South London the Crystal Palace Company had great ambitions for the gardens; they included fountains, horticulture and sculpture. Over 100 statues were commissioned or purchased along with countless urns and vases. These were located towards the top of the park in the areas where the terraces are today. The large flat terrace known as the Italian Terrace displayed a variety of statues, many were copies of well-known works on classical themes. Original works were placed around the fountains notably a series of works by Raffaelle Monti representing rivers and oceans.
The Upper Terrace is the area where the Sphinx are now, and the balustrade they overlook was home to a series of unique newly commissioned works. The majority of these are now lost.
Volunteer researchers have undertaken a huge project looking into many aspects of sculptural works in Crystal Palace Park, including 20th Century works. Quite early on in the project it became clear that the Upper Terrace statues were exceptional. For this reason, Invisible Palace invited Dr Kate Nichols to help us unpick what was going on with this series and how they related to wider concerns of the time.
This talk took place at Crystal Palace Museum on Tuesday 24 May 2022.
Above image: The Upper Terrace in 1911 during the Festival of Empire © London Borough of Lambeth Archive Department