Plans for the Wulff Equestrian Circus, General Exposition in Turin, 1884


Shown here are the architectural drawings for the construction of the pavilion for Circo Equestre Wulff (Wulff Equestrian Circus) on the occasion of the General Exposition in Turin. Organized by Società Promotrice dell’Industria Nazionale (Society for the Improvement of National Industry), the exposition took place from May to September 1884. The drafts by architect F. Solmi show the elevation of the main facade, details of the second level with two of the entrances, and a cross section of the main floor of the circus building that was erected especially for the fair. The national newspaper La Stampa is reported to have said that “there’s no exposition without circus.” As the drawing is numbered Table 126, it can be assumed that it was part of a larger work that probably gave details about the many pavilions in which the fair was held. The pavilions were organized into categories: fine arts, scientific innovations, literary productions, didactics, welfare, mining industries, mechanical industries, manufacturing industries, and agriculture and nutrition. The fair had 14,237 exhibitors and attracted about three million visitors. Construction of the Wulff Equestrian Circus building was entrusted to Venetian laborers from the Cadore region, who had the reputation of being best at constructing wooden buildings. The building used the most modern technology of its day. Specifically designed for circus, it measured 25 meters in height, 46 meters in diameter, and had 13.5 meters of stables. It could host 4,000 spectators at a performance. The whole structure was organized in platforms, arcades, and terraces, and every place had a clear view of the stage. The Wulff Equestrian Circus show was accompanied by an orchestra that, according to the chronicles of the period, was one of its most attractive features. The Politeama, as the building was called, was demolished at the end of the exposition. Edoardo Wulff’s company had 150 artists and 94 animals; its shows at the exposition began on April 12 and ended on October 17, when it moved to Milan. Among the many other features offered at the exposition were performances by lion tamer François Bidel and balloon ascents by Eugène Godard.

Last updated: June 1, 2017