Owen Jones
Project for a Crystal Palace in the Park of Saint Cloud

Project for a Crystal Palace in the Park of Saint Cloud, interior view
Owen Jones (1809-1874)
Project for a Crystal Palace in the Park of Saint Cloud, interior view
1860-1862
Watercolour, highlights in coloured pencil
H. 45.5; W. 120 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / DR

Projet d'un palais de cristal dans le parc de Saint-Cloud, vue intérieure [Project for a Crystal Palace in the Park of Saint Cloud, interior view]


The dazzling Crystal Palace, erected in London for the first Great Exhibition in 1851 was so popular that from 1860 until 1894 there was talk of building a similar structure in Paris, and more specifically in the Park of Saint Cloud. In 1860, Owen Jones, who had directed the building of the London palace and designed its polychrome interior decoration, was asked to design a huge complex including a permanent exhibition centre for French industry, a winter garden and a pleasure park.

Owen Jones was an architect, draughtsman and decorator who attracted notice in 1842 with the publication of a joint study on the Alhambra in Granada with the Frenchman Jules Goury. But his most famous work is a splendid Grammar of Ornament published from 1856. As he had done in the Crystal Palace, he used the three primary colours, red, yellow and blue, to decorate this palace composed of a long metal and glass gallery ending in exedras and crowned by a central dome that can be glimpsed in this drawing.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has two drawings of the monument, which would have been built on the site of the present Musée de Sèvres; the porcelain museum built in 1863 put an end to Owen Jones' adventure. However the idea was not abandoned and re-emerged after fire ravaged the Château de Saint Cloud in 1871; many of the large number of projects produced in 1882 are now in the National Archives.


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