Eugène Hénard, Edmond Paulin
1900 World Fair

1900 World Fair, Palais de l'Electricité, water tower and Palais de la Mécanique et des Industries chimiques.
Eugène Hénard (1849-1923) and Edmond Paulin (1848-1915)
1900 World Fair, Palais de l'Electricité, water tower and Palais de la Mécanique et des Industries chimiques.
1898
Black lead pencil, ink, watercolour and gouache
H. 52.5; W. 88 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Palais de l'Electricité, water tower and Palais de la Mécanique et des Industries chimiques.


Situated opposite the Eiffel Tower at the far end of the Champ de Mars, the Palais de l'Electricité was the "star attraction" of the 1900 World Fair. The Palais was designed by Eugène Hénard, the architect and theoretician best known for his plans to transform Paris. Whilst its steel and glass hall demonstrated diverse applications for electricity, the Palais doubled as a power supply for the other pavilions. As the Directory of the 1900 World Fair remarks: "If the Palais de l'Electricité was to stop for one reason or another, the whole Fair would stop […]. It is in the Palais de l'Electricité that all the energy needed for the lighting and operation of the diverse organs of the fair is produced."
A huge water tower by the architect Edmond Paulin served as the Palais' façade. It was an astonishing openwork structure: "a diadem, an open fan, a spreading peacock's tail". An immense waterfall surged from its centre, and it was crowned by the Genius of Electricity, a statue of over six metres high which twinkled at night with a myriad of multicoloured lights.
It was through this same drawing that this magnificent building received the approval of the minister of Trade, Industry, Posts and Telegraphs in 1898. The drawing is a faithful description of both palaces as they were to be finally realised.




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