Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Theatre and Shows - Theatres and Venues - Egyptian Hall

EGYPTIAN HALL, Piccadilly. M. TARDIVEL'S MORNING EXHIBITION of the BAYADERES, or Indian Dancing Priestesses, who will have the honour to present themselves at 2 o'clock. At half past 2 will be given the Toilet of Vishnu; at a quarter before 3, the Pas Melancolique; at 3, the Salute of the Rajah; at a quarter past 3, the Pas de Poignard; at half past 3, the Malapou. During the intervals of exhibiting they will promenade and converse with any lady or gentleman who may understand their language. The doors open at half past 1. Admission to the whole 1s.

advertisement from The Times, November 8, 1838

The Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, erected in 1812 in the Egyptian style of architecture, was originally built by Mr. Bullock, for the reception of his museum that long exhibited in Liverpool with considerable success was at length brought to London, and here terminated its fortunate career. The Egyptian Hall, since the removal of Mr. Bullock's Museum, has been devoted to the display of various exhibitions.

The Napoleon Museum, Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly. - The proprietor, Mr. Sainsbury, a clerical agent, with an enthusiasm worthy of a better cause, selecting the following expression of the late Mr. Fox, "I am willing to believe him one of the best, as I am sure he is one of the greatest of men," has sought, by the formation of a collection of pictures, prints, bronzes, books, and manuscripts, and its exhibition, to elevate to the position of a martyr, the man whom the pithy expression of * (*We believe, Sir Sidney Smith.) "Buonaparte was a splendid scoundrel, but a scoundrel still," so much more faithfully describes. Not the least curious article in the catalogue is the complaint of the tyrant at the end, in which, in no measured terms, he denounces the conduct of the English, accusing them of bad faith* (*This from the man who broke his parole at Elba would excite a smile, but for the melancholy reflection of the thousands who fell at Waterloo, a consequence of that return, to which it gave rise. His abandonment of his wife also furnishes another instance of the strength of his adherence to engagements, whenever their violation suited his purpose.); in a word, of leaving him no chance of escape, or of disseminating, through the press, his spleen against England, whose only fault was that of treating too leniently a man, that for the murder of Captain Wright alone deserved the rope. As an exhibition the Napoleon Museum is not of a kind to interest the public generally. - Admission 1s.

 Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitor's Guide to it Sights, 1844

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EGYPTIAN HALL, PICCADILLY. A public building in imitation of Egyptian architecture, and covered with hieroglyphics, in a fashionable thoroughfare, where the novel and temporary exhibitions of the London season are generally to be seen. Here was "Bullock's Museum;" and here Tom Thumb in one part drew hundreds in a day, while Haydon exhibited his pictures to half-a-dozen comers in a week. The architect, G.F.Robinson, has inscribed his name on the front of the building. The figures of Isis and Osiris were carved by Gahagan, who made the statue of the Duke of Kent at the top of Portland-place.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

The EGYPTIAN HALL, Piccadilly, so long the well known home of the late Albert Smith's evergreen panoramic entertainment of Mont Blanc, was built in 1812, to contain Mr. Bullock's natural history collection. The façade is imitated from the temple of Tentyra, in Upper Egypt. The figures supporting the entablature represent the deities Osiris and Isis. The hall is principally made use of for monologue entertainments.

Cruchley's London in 1865 : A Handbook for Strangers, 1865

THIS edifice, and a smaller structure in Welbeck-street, are, in single features and details, the only specimens of Egyptian architecture in London. The latter was, as originally erected, the most correct in character, but has since been almost spoiled. The Hall in Piccadilly conforms to the style in the columns and general outline, as indicated by the inclined torus-moulding at the extremity of the front, the cornice, &c.; though the composition itself is at variance with the principles of genuine Egyptian architecture, the front being divided into two floors, with wide instead of narrow windows to both. The details are mostly from the great temple of Tentyra, with the scarabreus, winged mundus, hieroglyphics, &c. The architect's name, G. F. Robinson, is inscribed upon the façade. The entablature is supported by colossal figures of Isis and Osiris, sculptured by L. Gahagan. The Hall cost 16,000l., and was built in 1812 for a museum of natural history collected by W. Bullock, F.L.S., during thirty years travel in Central America, which was exhibited here until 1819, when it was sold in 2248 lots.* (* Bullock's "Liverpool Museum" was opened at 22, Piccadilly, in 1805, in the room originally occupied by Astley for his evening performance of horsemanship; his amphitheatre not being roofed until 1780, and therefore allowing only day exhibitions.)
    The Egyptian Hall contains lecture-rooms, a bazaar, and a large central room, "the Waterloo Gallery." As the Hall has been a sort of Ark of Exhibitions, we enumerate the Curiosities which have been shown here - 
    1816. The Judgment of Brutus, painted by Le Thiere, president of the Academy of St. Luke, at Rome.- Water-colour Paintings of Minerals and Shells, by Chev. de Barde. - Napoleon's Travelling, Chariot, built for his Russian campaign, and adapted for a bed-room, dressing-room, pantry, kitchen, &c.; captured at Waterloo: seen at the Egyptian Hall by 800,000 persons; transferred to the Tussaud Exhibition, in Baker-street, Portman-square.
    1819. Sale of Bullock's Museum: produce, 99741. 13s.; cost, 30,000l.
    1821. Fac-simile of the Tomb of Psammuthis, King of Thebes, discovered by Belzoni; constructed and painted from drawings and wax-impressions taken by him of all the original figures, hieroglyphics, emblems, &c.; the two principal chambers illuminated: first day, 1900 admissions, at 2s. 6d. each.
    1822. Laplanders and Reindeer: 100l. per day taken for six weeks - Pair of Wapeti, or Elks, from the Upper Missouri; and a pretended Mermaid, visited by 300 and 400 persons daily.* (* In Manners and Customs of the Japanese, published in 1841, the above "Mermaid" (the head and shoulders of a monkey neatly attached to a headless fish) is proved to have been manufactured in Japan, brought to Europe by an American adventurer, and valued at 1000l. A pretended Mermaid was also exhibited in London in 1775; and in Broad-court, Covent-garden, in 1794.)
    1824. Mexican Museum, ancient and modern.-.Esquimaux Man and Woman - Hatching Chickens by Artificial Heat.
1825. Ruth, or Burmese, Imperial State Carriage, captured by the British in 1824: the coach and the throne-seat, studded with 20,000 gems, are stated to have cost 12,500l. at Tavoy. - Model of Switzerland. 
1826. The Musical Sisters, four and six years old, harpist and pianist. - Altar-piece, by Murillo.- The Pecilorama, views painted by Stanfield.
    1827. The Tyrolese Minstrels, four males and one female.
    1828. Pictures of Battles of the Trench Armies, painted by General Le Jeune.- The Death of Virginia, painted by Le Thiere.- Haydon's Picture of the Mock Election in the Kings Bench, bought by George IV. for 500 guineas, and sent from the Egyptian Hall to St. James's Palace.
    1829. Troubadours (singers). - The Siamese Twins, two youths of eighteen, natives of Siam, united by a short band at the pit of the stomach - two perfect bodies, bound together by an inseparable link.
    1830. Vox Bipartitus, or two voices in one.- Sculpture, by Lough.-Tableaux Vivans (ancient pictures by living figures)-Michael Boai, or the chin-chopper, a la Buckhorse.
    1831. Model of the Théatre Francais, Paris. - A Cobra di Capello, the first brought alive to Europe - Two Orang-outangs and a chimpanzee - A Double-sighted Boy, M'Kean, aged eight years. -  Scrymegour's Picture of the First Sign in Egypt - Double-sighted Boy. - The Egyptian Hall converted into a Bazaar.
    1832. Museum of Etruscan Antiquities - Royal Clarence Vase, of glass, made at Birmingham - The Brothers Koeller, singers, from Switzerland  -Hayden's Pictures of Xenophon and the 10,000; and his Mock Election, lent by George IV. for exhibition; Death of Eucles, &c.
    1835. Views of Paris, painted by M. Dupressoir.
    1837. A Living Male Child, with four hands, four arms, four legs, four feet, and two bodies, born at Staleybridge, Manchester - Masquerades
1838. Le Brun's Picture of the Battle of Arbela, embossed on copper, by Szentpetery. Captain Siborne's Model of the Battle of Waterloo, with 190,000 figures; now in the Museum of the United Service Institution.
    1839. Skeleton of a Mammoth Ox. - Pictorial Storm at Sea, introducing Grace Darling and the " Forfarshire Wreck."
    1840. Aubusson Carpets.- Ung-ka-puti (Gibbon monkey), from Sumatra - Bioplulax, or life and Property Protector - Hayden's large Picture of the General Anti-Slavery Convention.
1841. Catlin's North American Indian Gallery of 310 portraits of chiefs, and 200 views of villages, religious ceremonies, dances, ball-plays, buffalo-hunts - in all, 3000 full-length figures, with costumes and other produce, from a wigwam to a rattle, filling a room 106 feet long - The Missouri Leviathan Skeleton - The Great Pennard cheese, presented to the Queen.
1843. Sir George Hayters Great Picture of the First Reformed Parliament, figures half-life size.- Model of Venice - The Napoleon Museum.
1844. The America Dwarf, "Tom Thumb," whose exhibition often realized 125l. a day; while, in sickening contrast, in an adjoining room, the
 pictures of Hayden (to whom Wordsworth wrote "high is our calling, friend ") wore scarcely visited by a dozen persons in a week. The "Banishment of Aristides," Hayden's last picture, was shown here, and its failure hastened the painter to his awful end - Nine Ojibbeway Indians, from lake Huron, in their native costumes, exhibiting their war-dances and sports - German Dwarfs.
1845. The Eureka, a machine for composing hexameter latin verses; a practical illustration of the law of evolution - Second Exhibition of Captain Siborne's Model of the Battle of Waterloo.
1846. Prof, Faber's Euphonia, or speaking automaton, enunciating sounds and words; played by keys - Mammoth Horse - Polar Dog. - Bosjesman Family - The Rock Harmonicon - Curiosities from Australia - Professor Kist's Poses Plastiques . - A Dwarf dressed in a bear-skin: the " What is it?" immediately detected.
    1847. Second Family of Bosjesmen (Bushmen), from Southern  Africa - Models of Ancient and Modern Jerusalem, by Brunetti.- Exhibition of Modern Paintings; free to artists.
    1848. Pictures of Recent Political Events in Paris - The Mysterious Lady - Figure of a Russian Lady in veined marbles. - Banvard's Dioramic Picture of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, 3000 miles, stated to be painted on three miles of canvas (!); sketched before the painter was of age.
    1850. Panorama of Fremont's Overland Route to California. - Bonomi's Panorama of the Nile, 800 feet long: representing 1720 miles distance, closing with the Pyramids and Sphinx.
    1852. March 15. Mr. Albert Smith first gave the narrative of his Ascent of Mont Blanc in 1851, accompanying the exhibition of cleverly-painted moving dioramic pictures of its perils and sublimities. Mr. Smith continued to give, at the Egyptian Hall, his popular representations until within a few days of his lamented death, May 23, 1860, the day before he attained the age of 44.
    1860. A "Miraculous Cabinet," invented and produced by H. Nadolsky. This cabinet measures only 5 feet high, 3 feet wide, and 18 inches deep: it contains 150 pieces of furniture, of the same size as in ordinary use; namely, a judge's-table, with ornaments, books, and 6 chairs; 4 card-tables, 2 Chinese- tables, a smoking-table, a lady's work-table, 2 Chinese toilet-tables, a chess-table, 4 work-boxes, 4 flower- pots with flowers; a what-not, candelabrum, bed with hangings, and a swing-cot; toilet-table, embroidery-frame, flower-table, 7 Chinese lamps, 2 Chinese candlesticks, 12 fancy boxes, 1 footstool, a painter's easel, 4 music-stands, dining-table laid with 26 covers; 4 dishes, 28 plates, 30 cups, salt-cellars, &c.; a chandelier with 12 wax-lights; 9 garden-chairs, 4 candlesticks; Chinese writing-desk, inkstand and tapers, rulers, and bell; tea-tray table, throne, throne-chair, 4 flower-tables; and a large table inlaid with shells, glass top, &e. When the various articles were taken out of the cabinet, and spread over the apartment, the notion of putting them back again into the same cabinet seemed almost absurd.
    The Hall was subsequently let for various performances and exhibitions; including Mr. Arthur Sketchley's Entertainment; Colonel Stodare's Mystery and Magic; Mrs. Fanny Kemble's Readings; Madame Lind-Goldschmidt's Concert; the Exhibition of Chang, the Chinese Giant; a Panorama of the Holy Land; Exhibition of Mr. John Leech's Sketches; and the General Society of Painters in Watercolours. Here, in the "Dudley Gallery," was deposited the valuable collection of Pictures belonging to the Earl of Dudley, during the erection of his own Gallery at Dudley House, Park-lane.

John Timbs, Curiosities of London, 1867

Routledge's Popular Guide to London, [c.1873]

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Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly.—This building has long been celebrated for excellent entertainments, such as those of Albert Smith, Artemus Ward, and “Mrs.Brown.” For some years the principal hall has been successfully occupied by Messrs. Maskelyne and Cooke’s Entertainment. The exhibitions of pictures and drawings known as the “Dudley” also take place here. NEAREST Railway Station, St. James’s. park; Omnibus Routes, Piccadilly and Regent-street Cab Rank, Albany. 

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

The Egyptian Hall next to 170 Piccadilly was built in 1812, for a museum of Natural History, collected by Mr. Bullock in Central America, which was exhibited here until 1819, and was then dispersed by auction. The hall was built and decorated in the Egyptian style of architecture by G. F. Robinson; its entablature is supported by colossal figures of Isis and Osiris. Among the numerous exhibitions which have taken place at the Egyptian Hall may be mentioned the Siamese Twins (1829), Haydon's Pictures of Xenophon, &c. (1832) Siborne's Model of the Battle of Waterloo (1838 and 1846), with 190,000 figures, now in the museum of the United Service Institution, Whitehall; Tom Thumb, the American Dwarf (1844) who in one room drew crowds to see him, and made over £100 a day, while in the adjoining apartment poor Haydon's grand pictures scarcely attracted as many shillings a week. In 1852 Albert Smith gave his Ascent of Mont Blanc here for the first time. The Dudley Gallery of Pictures has worthily occupied for some years of the chief exhibition rooms in the Hall; as also the Society of Lady Artists. Maskelyne and Cooke's with other popular entertainments are given here.

Herbert Fry, London, 1889

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