Title:Study for the Exposition Universelle/ Palais de L'Optique PosterArtist:Georges Paul Leroux Date:1900Creation Place:Europe, FranceCredit Line:Gift of Gabriel P. and Yvonne WeisbergImage Copyright:Copyright of the artist, artist's estate, or assignees.Accession Number:2011.99
By the time the Exposition Universelle of 1900 opened, the French public had become accustomed to the new inventions pervading and changing their lives. Rather than educating people about the benefits of technology as the 1889 Exposition had done, the 1900 fair used innovation to create a land of fantasy. Under the glow of electric lights, moving walkways conveyed visitors to attractions like the advertised Palais de l’Optique, which housed a 65-yard-long, 20-ton telescope known as La Grande Lunette. A guide to the exposition boasted that this telescope “is the largest device that has ever been built for exploring the sky and puts the moon just a few kilometers from the Earth.” Georges Leroux illustrates this imaginative idea with a beautiful woman. His preparatory drawing shows that he originally envisioned her in a realistic way, but she became more statuesque to emphasize this impressive invention. As she lowers the luminous moon toward a spellbound spectator, she demonstrates how technology allows us to experience what once existed only in our dreams.