Musée d'Orsay: Edouard Loviot A Banquet Hall, 1900

Edouard Loviot
A Banquet Hall, 1900

A Banquet Hall in the Machine Gallery, Universal Exhibition of 1900
Edouard Loviot (1849-1921)
A Banquet Hall in the Machine Gallery, Universal Exhibition of 1900
Pen and water colour
H. 90; W. 178 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Une salle des fêtes dans la galerie des Machines, exposition universelle de 1900 [A Banquet Hall in the Machine Gallery, Universal Exhibition of 1900]

The Machine Gallery built by the architect Ferdinand Dutert and the engineer Victor Contamin for the Universal Exhibition of 1889 was a major technical challenge. For the first time, a metal framework was built with girders without truss rods giving a span of 110 m over a length of 420 m. It stood in front of the Ecole Militaire across the whole width of the Champs de Mars and would have been very slow and costly to demolish in preparation for the new Exhibition in 1900. So it was decided to convert it into the Palace of Agriculture and Food instead, with a banquet hall in the entrance.
The project designed by Edouard Loviot in 1898 sought to respect this extraordinary building by obstructing it as little as possible. The architect therefore suggested a reversible construction of staff and paintings, without foundations, which could be put up in a month and dismantled afterwards. Loviot was a wholehearted admirer of the gallery – as chair of the Société Centrale des Architectes he had installed the Salon of 1898 and 1899 there – and was determined to protect it. That is why the drawing shows a low-rise, classical structure with a large staircase leading up to a triumphal gate flanked by arcades. The rest of the space in the gallery is decorated with hangings which separate the upper from the lower part and give the installation an ephemeral, lightweight air. The hall itself could hold 12,000 seated guests. In the end, the choice fell on Gustave Raulin's project, a monumental structure which definitively hid the gallery. The inauguration of the 1900 Exhibition was held in this banquet hall. The decision to demolish the Machine Gallery was taken nine years later.

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