HOME G.E GERINI

 

 Colonel G.E Gerini : the Commissioner-General to H.M. the King of Siam at the Turin International Exhibition, 1911

 

  Kanokwan Rittipairoj

 

 

Introduction :  The archives on the Turin Exhibition, 1911 in Thailand

 

In the National Archives of Thailand, there are archives on the Turin Exhibition, 1911 which are now well-kept on microfilms. They consist of official correspondences between Siamese and Italian parties and His Majesty the King of Siam via his Private Secretary H.R.H Prince Prachin including reports on the events to His Majesty the King, related documents, photographs and books. The principle subject matters deal with the preparation of the Siamese exhibits for the Turin International Exhibition [1] , report on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy, 27th of March, 1911 [2] , report on the opening ceremony of the Turin International Exhibition on 29th of April, 1911, the presentation of Colonel G.E. Gerini to H.M. the King of Italy , problems concerning the Siamese Pavilion and the display of the Siamese exhibits and the nomination of a Special Jury for the Turin Exhibition [3] . These official documents are truly reliable and will be mainly used along with Gerini’s Catalogue of the Siamese Section at the International Exhibition of Industry and Labour [4] as references to the interpretation of Colonel G.E.Gerini’s roles as the Commissioner-General to H.M. the King of Siam at the Turin International Exhibition in 1911.

 

The prominent roles of Col Gerini as the Commissioner-General of H.M. of Siam at the Turin Exhibition have been echoed in the Siamese national archives. His roles and judgments were found important to the preparation and organization of Siamese exhibits in Turin and were well-accepted by personage connected with the organization commission, who were principal members of the Siamese Government for example, H.H. Prince Rajani from the Ministry of Finance and a Vice President of Royal Committee of Foreign Exhibitions; H.E. Phya Phiphat Kosa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a Royal Committee of Foreign Exhibitions; Luang Montri, His Majesty’s Chargé d’ Affaires in Paris; Monsieur Corragioni d’ Orelli, the Councillor of the Royal Legation; and most important of all, His Majesty the King of Siam.

 

The focus of the presentation will be on the following subjects:

i. Siam and the Turin International Exhibition in honour of the Jubilee of Italian Unity : This part deals with the importance of the celebration of Italian Unity in 1911 and the significance of the Turin Exhibition to Siam. It also includes the Royal Siamese Commission for Foreign Exhibitions led by HM the King Vajiravudh and the Executive Committee led by Colenel G.E. Gerini.

ii. Colonel G.E. Gerini as the Commissioner-General of His Majesty the King of Siam at the Turin International Exhibition. The second part is about Gerini’s important diplomatic roles, initiatives, judgments and responsibilities as the Commissioner-General and his, to begin with; Gerini and the arrangements for the exhibition at Turin in 1908, Gerini and His Majesty the King of Italy, Gerini and His Siamese Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires,  and Gerini and Siam’s nomination of a Special Juror for the Turin Exhibition.

 iii. Gerini and the success of the Siamese Pavilion. This part deals with the installation of the Siamese pavilion, the great success from many points of view, the descriptive catalogue of the Siamese section, and the impressive opening ceremony of the Siamese Pavilion on the 27th of May and the close on the 20th of November, 1911

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I.  Siam and the Turin International Exhibition of Industries and Labour in honour of the Jubilee of Italian Unity (1911)

 On 14th March 1861, the Parliament of Turin the capital of Sardaigna, proclaimed the union of the various Italian States under Victor Emmanuel, King of Sardaignia, who was proclaimed King of Italy on the 27th of March and the same day Rome was declared Capital of the Kingdom of Italy.

In 1911, the Kingdom of Italy celebrated her Jubilee of Italian unity. The ceremony of commemoration took place at the Capitole (town hall) in the old Aula Senetoriale. His Majesty of Siam’s Legation to the Court of Italy, represented by Luang Montri [5] who was His Majesty’s Chargé d’ Affaires in Paris and M. de Rychman, were officially invited by the Italian Government to attend the ceremonies which took place in Rome on the 27th of March, 1911. On the occasion of this great anniversary, the King of Siam sent a telegram of congratulations direct to H.M. the King and Queen of Italy.

The Turin International Exhibition of Industries and Labours was organized by the Italian Government and the town to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the kingdom of Italy and to show the progress of the country within the last fifty years in all branches of Industries and commerce. Many foreign countries were invited to participate in this grand exhibition. Siam received the invitation with enthusiasm and decided to respond with a show of its own products. The Siamese exhibits at the Turin International Exhibition were a token of the esteem and friendship given by Siam to Italy and will have to be considered from every point of view as a great manifestation, worthy of the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy [6] . The official opening of the exhibition was on April the 29th by their Majesties the King & Queen of Italy and the Royal Princess.

The Siamese and Italian organization team of this international exhibition consisted of the Royal Siamese Commission for Foreign Exhibitions and the Executive Committee. The former was constituted of H.M. the King Vajiravudh as the President, H.H. Prince Rajani as Vice President, H.E. Phya Phiphat Kosa as committee and A.H. Duke as Secretary-General. [7] The main responsibility dealt with the preparations for the show, collection of products and organization of the exhibits in Siam. The letter was composed of Colonel G.E. Gerini as the Commissioner-General to H.M. the King of Siam, Architect A. Rigotti, Technical Director of the erection of the pavilion and Chevalier Govanni Vigna dal Ferro, Secretary. [8] Their works were to attend to all the preparations for receiving and putting in order the Siamese exhibits in Turin. Both the Royal Commission for Foreign Exhibitions and the Executive Committee were above all supported by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Siam, H.R.H Prince Krom Luang Davawongse Varoparkar and His Majesty’ s Legation in Paris, Luang Montri and other royal legations of Siam in Rome and Paris.

 

II.  Colonel G.E. Gerini as the Commissioner-General of His Majesty the King of Siam at the Turin Exhibition

Gerini and the arrangements for the exhibition at Turin in 1908

As the Commission-General, Colonel G.E. Gerini, the Commissioner-General and Mr A. C. Carter, Secretary-General to the Royal Siamese Commission for Foreign Exhibition proceeded to Turin at the beginning of September, 1908, for the preliminary agreements with the Executive Committee of the Turin Exhibition. The mission was a great success. Gerini’s idea to erect in Turin a special Pavilion in the national style for the Siamese section was accepted by the Siamese Government. This type of architecture known in Siam as prasad, which  was a cruciform in plan with its triple-storied polychrome roofs and its tapering central spire. It was built in royal palaces as the royal throne hall and residence for the king. Gerini chose the best location for the splendid pavilion in genuine Siamese style, that is, on the bank of the River Po, culminating in front of a green hill as the background. This initiative shows Gerini’s profound understanding of the true identity of Siam. It was able to bring Siam to the world attention in every direction, namely, trade and commerce, as well as arts and cultures.

 

Gerini and His Majesty the King of Italy

“I beg to inform you that I have been attending, with all the Diplomatic Corps, the opening of International Exhibition by H.M. the King of Italy, and I have presented Gerini to His Majesty who was extremely gracious…”

Montri

 

The above extract comes from the telegram from Luang Montri [9] to H.R.H. Prince Devawongse, Siamese Minister of Foreign Affairs, dated Torino 29th April 1911 [10] , which was the date of the opening ceremony of the Turin International Exhibition . It is obvious from the message that the presentation of Gerini to the King of Italy was the first priority. Besides it appears that the King of Italy was particularly gracious to Luang Montri and Colonel Gerini. His Majesty the King of Italy made many inquiries as follows:

 

“In the afternoon the King received at the palace all Chiefs of the diplomatic mission who presented to His Majesty the respective Commissioners of their countries [11] … Colonel Gerini and I (Luang Montri) were consequently invited into the interior hall where His Majesty the King of Italy was standing by himself in the middle of the room. I paid obeisance to His Majesty the King of Italy who kindly exchanged handshakes with me and asked whether I spoke English. I replied that I spoke French. Then I presented the respective Commissioner-General to His Majesty the King of Siam at the Turin Exhibition to the King of Italy. The King asked what his name was. I replied that his name was Colonel Gerini. The King said that he knew this name and asked whether it was the one who translated the letters from His Majesty King Chulalongkorn to His Majesty. Colonel Gerini accepted that it was so. Then the King of Italy had a conversation with Colonel Gerini in the Italian language, asking about his immigration to Bangkok. Then the king asked Colenel Gerini what I was. Colonel Gerini replied that I was Le Chargé d’Affaires de Siam. The King turned to me and said he perceived that because it was recently that the Siamese Ambassador had presented the envoy’s credentials to His Majesty. I told His Majesty that the Ambassador was in Bangkok at the moment. The King of Italy made inquiries about the present King of Siam whether he had accompanied his father, the former King Chulalongkorn to Rome once before. I replied that it was so, the present King accompanied King Chulalongkorn to Italy on his first visit to Italy. The King of Italy said that he remembered seeing their Majesties or his Majesty in a photograph. Then the King turned to Colonel Gerini and asked about the Siamese exhibition. He expressed his great satisfaction at the participation of Siam in the Exhibition and promised Colonel Gerini to visit at his next visit the Siamese Pavilion. Then I paid obeisance to the King who shook hands with me and said to me in French “Au revoir et merci.” [12]

It was really a gracious reception of the King of Italy and reflected a friendly relationship between Siam and Italy.

Gerini and His Siamese Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires

In 1911 Luang Montri, His Majesty the King of Siam’ s Chargé d’ Affaires, was invited as the Chief of the Mission to the opening ceremony of the Turin Exhibition. In the report of His Majesty the King, he expressed his admiration and appreciation for Gerini’s warm reception. Luang Montri reported, “Colonel Gerini, during the whole time of his stay in that town has done his utmost to facilitate the Siamese Representative his mission” [13] . Primarily, he received Luang Montri and the Councillor of the Legation, M. Corragioni d’ Orelli at the station by himself and took them to stay at the Hotel de la Ville de Bologne. In another part of the report, Luang Montri repeated Colonel’s kind attention and generosity that he was provided with all comforts and conveniences. Colonel Gerini kindly rented a car especially for the Siamese Representative. This car was available at all times. Without the car, it would have caused him a lot of inconveniences and troubles because there were a great number of visitors to the opening ceremony of the Turin exhibition. Besides during the first 2-3 days of the exhibition, it was impossible to find a good and comfortable car at all.

Gerini’s working spirit was appreciated by Luang Montri. He found that although Gerini had to confront many difficulties, he made it a labour of love. In his report to His Majesty the King of Siam, he told a serious problem about the products that it was unfortunate that some fragile products that were transported to Turin were found damaged and broken upon their arrival in Turin. This was probably due to poor packaging, particularly the glass of the picture frames and miscellaneous things in glass bottles. However, it was fortunate that we had Colonel Gerini who was very industrious, thoughtful and well-concerned. He had them cautiously fixed so that they were fine for displaying. This showed that Colenel Gerini put his heart in the works.

After the opening of the Exhibition, Luang Montri discussed with Colonel Gerini a great many questions concerning the Pavilion and the display of the Siamese exhibits. They all agreed that the exhibition at Turin was very important, although it was not the capital of Italy but it was organized in celebration of the anniversary of the proclamation of the Kingdom. Turin had been chosen for the International Exhibitions on more than one occasion, in 1884, 1898 and 1902, but this year was the greatest. Many foreign countries participated in the exhibition and took this opportunity to show the best of their countries not only products but arts and crafts. They wished the Siamese government to send more special Thai crafts such as laquerware, Silver wares, Classical musical instruments, royal barges for the show. Also, they suggested preparing captions of the beautiful photographs of railways stations in Siam for the viewers’s information.  Such ideas from their discussions show the desire to render the show worthy of Siam, worthy of Turin.

 

Gerini and Siam’s nomination of a special Juror for the Turin Exhibition

Professsor J.H Gore, the former Commissioner General for His Majesty the King of Siam for Siamese exhibits at Paris in 1900 and in St Louis in 1904 wrote a letter dated Washington D.C. May 5th, 1911 to His Majesty the King of Siam [14] , offering his services as a member of the Superior Jury for Siam at the Turin Exposition. Prof Gore claimed his success in securing awards for Siamese exhibits in Paris and St Louis and his special knowledge and the eight-time experience on Superior Juries at International Expositions. A copy of his letter was sent to Luang Sanpakitch, to have him commend his offer to the appropriate authorities in the Siamese Government [15] However, the Vice President of the Siamese Commissioners for Foreign Exhibitions, H.H. Rajani, expressed his opinion in his letter to His Majesty the King, the President of this Commissioners that when Prof Gore was the Commissioner-General of St Louis Exhibition, he was naturally the Siamese Superior Juror. Similarly, based on the same protocol, as we already had Colonel Gerini as the Commissioner-General for this Turin Exhibition, it was suitable to appoint Colonel Gerini the Superior Juror. On the other hand, we needed to ask the Commissioner (Gerini) to find information on the rules and regulations related to the nomination of the Jury for the Turin Exhibition first. [16]   Colonel Gerini sent a telegram that the nomination was yet to be done. However, he was assured that the one juror shall be nominated by the Siamese Government, “International not yet formed am assured appointment at least one juror shall be granted us .. Gerini.” 

His Majesty the King consequently decided to appoint Prof Gore as a Special juror. A telegram dated 11th July, 1911 was sent to Gerini which read, “King desires appoint Professor Gore as one and you to recommend another for the special Jury. Reply if proposal is in accord with Exhibition Rules.”  On the 29th of July, H.H Rajani and H.E Phya Phipatkosa on behalf of the Royal Commission of Foreign Exhibition submitted for His Majesty’s information an extract on the question of Siam’s nomination of a Special Juror for the Turin Exhibition from Colonel Gerini’s despatch no. 22 dated 23rd June together with a copy of the Regulations applicable to such appointment then just received. According to the documents, it was obvious that the matter of the Jury had long been receiving the earnest attention of Colonel Gerini who would do his best to obtain the best possible result in the interest of Siamese exhibitors.

According to the regulations, the appointment of Superior and Class Jurors rested with the Commissioner-General of each nation, within the limits of numbers allotted by the Executive Commission of the Exhibition. His eventual proposals for these appointments are:  High Juror: Commander Vico Mantegazza, who was High Juror for the Argentine Republic, for Japan, at Milan exhibition in 1906 and now Secretary General to the foreign Commissions at the Rome Exhibition; Class Juror: Professor Cesare Ferro, late of Siam; Chevalier Giovanni Vigna dal Ferro, our Secretary here; Professor Annibale Rigotti (late of Siam) our Architect, acting.

              Although at first it was still doubtful whether Siam would be able to nominate her own Special Juror or would have to share the right with other Powers, it was later informed that a Special Juror had been allotted to Siam in conjunction with China and Persia who had agreed to the selection of Commander Vico Mantegazza as recommeded by Colonel Gerini, and approved of by the king in His Majesty’s letter to the Royal Commission No 4/545 date 10th, August [17] .

              Colonel Gerini was right when he said about his proposal for the appointment, “I am under the impression to have made a good choice, and presume that with the above appointments I can obtain the best possible results in the interest of Siamese exhibitions” [18] . Siam received a total of 89 prizes from this exhibition: 5 Grands Prix, 10 Diplômes d’ Honneur, 21 Gold Medals, 25 Silver Medals, 18 Bronze Medals, 10 Mentions Honorables.

              Having made great contributions to the success of the Siamese Exhibition at Turin, Colonel Gerini, a Commissioner-General of Siam to the Turin Exhibition was awarded “Diploma of High Merit” by High Jury of the Turin Exhibition [19]

 

III. Colonel Gerini and the success of the Siamese Pavilion

 

Gerini and the Installation of the Siamese Pavilion

 

A pavilion in pure Siamese style was erected for the first time at the St Louis Exhibition in 1904. It was a reproduction of the temple or principal building of Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok. In 1911 the Siamese government, in favour of the idea of Gerini, built a special pavilion in a national style and of the type called “prasad” for the Siamese section which “for its magnitude and faithful reproduction of native architecture surpasses all the preceding ones.” [20]

The best location was selected for the Siamese location. It was on the right bank of the river Po, just below the Princess Isabella Bridge. The drafting up of plans for the building was entrusted to the architects, M. Tamagno and A. Rigotti, of the Technical Bureau of the Public Works Department in Siam. The work of erection of the pavilion was forthwith started in July, 1910, under the superintendence of Architect A. Rogotti, who had meanwhile returned to Italy. The contract for the framework and parts in wood was given to Mr N. Previgliano; the principal stucco mouldings were entrusted to sculptor Mr C. Musso, and the others to Mr. U. Miniati; and the gilding, painting, and decorations to Chev. G.B. Beroggio and E.D. Smeriglio.

The pavilion with its collections was opened with fitting ceremony on May 27, 1911, in the presence of a numerous and select company of representatives and guests. It was the earliest, if not the very first, section of the exhibition to be in complete order, and from the day it was opened, the public flocked to it in crowds.

Gerini and the success of the Siamese Pavilion from Italian and Siamese points of views

From the Italian point of view, the Siamese Pavilion was highly recognized. The Stampa, the leading Turin paper, on the opening day, described it as “one of the most interesting and striking features of the exhibition.” [21] Besides, there were many Italian and foreign periodicals that published accounts of the Siam Exhibition at Turin 1911, the opening ceremony of Siam Pavilion, the special appreciation of dramatic masks, the visit of H.R.H the Duke of Bisnulok to the Siam, Pavilions the visit of H.M. the King of Italy to Siam Pavilion.

A complete list of  periodicals (daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, magazine) referring to Exhibition was prepared by Colonel Gerini in the descriptive Catalogue of the Siamese Section (1912). The list contained names of periodicals, place of publication, No. date of issue and subjects. This detailed information is a very important reference to the study of this exhibition. The Italian periodicals included L’Esposizione di Torino, ill,mag., Secolo, d, Italia Centrale, d., Gazzetta del Popolo, d.,Adriatico, d. (Venice), Secolo XIX, d. (Genoa). Giorno, d. (Naples), Capitale, d. (Rome), Gran Mondo, ill, fort mag. (Milan), etc. A large number of foreign periodicals published accounts on the Turin Exhibition : Siam Pavilion and exhibition, biography of Commissioner-General for Siam at Turin Exhibition, reference to characteristic appearance of Siam Pavilion. They were Progresso Itali-Americano, d. (New York), Piccolo, d.(Trieste), St. Petersburger Herald, d. (St Petersburg) Wiener Landwirtschaftliche Zeitung, d.(Vienna) Patria degli Italiani, d.(Buenos Ayres), etc. [22]

Another impression and appreciation of the pavilion comes from Comm. Bianchi who, on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Turin Exhibition, conveyed his appreciation to the Siamese Pavilion in his speech given at the official opening ceremony on May 27, 1911, “We have full cause to rejoice that the most beautiful and interesting products of Siam are enshrined in such a fine casket, really worthy of them, in a building as highly elegant as original, and which reproduces all the characteristic charm of the Siamese national architecture. … We cannot more aptly express our feeling of gratitutde and admiration than by reverently shouting: Long live His Majesty the King of Siam!” [23]

The Premier, Signor Giolitte, having long conversations with Luang Montri, M, Corragioni d’ Crelli and Colonel Gerini, referred in the most flattering terms to Siam, expressing his conviction that the relations between the two countries would become closer and friendlier every day.

From the Siamese point of view, the Siamese Pavilion was a great success. In a telegram from Luang Montri, the Chargé d’Affaires to His Majesty the King of Siam dated Turin 29th April, 1911, which was the opening ceremony date, read, “I am very glad to find the pavilion of Siam extremely pretty and considered a great success.” [24] Above all, Luang Montri described the beauty of the Siamese Pavilion on the bank of River Po in his report to His Majesty the King of Siam that “the Siamese Pavilion rose on the bank of the river which was visible almost from every part of the exhibition. To the left was a pavilion of Zaire and to the right was the pavilion of United States of America. There was a bridge newly built across the river between the Siamese and American pavilions The Siamese Pavilion was a replica of the Sutthaidawan Throne Hall and was painted green. The pavilion was surmounted by a roof in two superposed tiers surmounted by a pyramid-shaped spire, culminating in a slender finial. With its two main arms formed by the wing galleries stretching out on both sides, it extends along the right bank of the Po. There is a porch in the front. A double terrace had green balustrades rails craved in Thai design and small white posts.  On the lower terrace are restaurants and a coffee bar that served Thai coffee from Chantaburi province. From the either side of the upper terrace is a flight of rather steep steps gradually leading down to the river bank. Behind the Siamese Pavilion is a high forest. The colour of the roof matched well with that of the forest. The Siamese pavilion was highly praised by visitors, Italian people and presses. [25]

Luang Montri made a nice conclusion in his report to His Majesty the King of Siam that the splendid success was the fine work of Colonel Gerini. Having been in Siam for a long time and having profound knowledge on Thai architecture, he was entrusted with the direction and preparation of the Siamese Pavilion and its exhibits. He engaged the skilled Italian architects Tamano and Rigotti who have already worked with him and Gollo in Siam, along with other fine Italian sculptors and painters a team whose names are above mentioned to exercise their talents and special experience on Thai architecture to the full to erect this splendid Thai-style prasad. The Siamese pavilion was thus a wonderful representation of the Siamese traditional prasad, a Siamese royal palace. Luang Montri repeated that no other architect team can do better than this team although they have seen the plan and build accordingly. This task could only be completed by a team with special talents on the construction of traditional Thai wooden architecture [26] .

Gerini and a descriptive catalogue of Siamese section

Another excellent contribution by Colonel G.E Gerini to the Siamese section is a descriptive catalogue of the Siamese Section. In the preface to the Italian Edition of 1911, he wrote, “There has hitherto existed in Europe only an imperfect knowledge of Siam, her natural resources and productions, as well as of the remarkable progress she has made during the last fifty years, the new thoroughfares she has thrown open to industry and commerce, and the facilities and possibilities for trade created” [27] .  For this reason, he found it necessary to compile essays on the exhibits on the basis of the most reliable data, by writers who had a good knowledge on the subject they dealt with and he hoped that their short essays for each exhibit would prove useful. The catalogue contains descriptive and detailed information, notes, general remarks and statistical data on every Siamese exhibit [28] , illustrated with a list of exhibits, numerous plates, an especially designed map of Siam in colours, a plan and a tri-chromic picture of the Siamese Pavilion.

 

In this catalogue, His Majesty the King of Siam, Maha Vajiravudh, wrote “notes on the Siamese Theatre,” in which he gave a brief outline of  the condition of the genuine Siamese drama such as masked drama (khon), ordinary drama(lakhon), a so-called li-ke performance, marionettes (hun)  and transparencies( nang). Besides, there is a list of characters in the Ramayana which also serve as a sort of catalogue of the collection of theatrical masks presented in the Siamese Pavilion.

Gerini wrote the introduction of the catalogue -- Siam and Italy, Geographical and Commercial notes on present Siam, Siam and International exhibitions, Siam at the Turin International Exhibition -- and many essays covering a variety of fields of studies , for example photography and its applications; public works; fishing, silkworm culture; food industry and products- rice, coffee, spices ; ceramic industries, industry perfumery, silk weaving, wearing-apparel industry- dress and vestments, embroidery, fans; cabinet work and artistic furniture; the art of painting; paper; the pictorial postcard. His essays are very informative, with historical and statistical notes and data, and reliable references. This shows his excellent expertise in the knowledge of the Kingdom of Siam. [29]   Other writers in this catalogue were from the Royal Education Department, W.F. Lloyd, The Royal Agricultural College, C. Pappayanopulos.

This catalogue “remains a fundamental tool for any student of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Thailand.” [30]

 

Gerini and the Opening Ceremony of the Siamese Pavilion

Colonel Gerini represented Siam at the opening ceremony of the Siamese Pavilion which was officially opened on the 27th of May, 1911 and the exhibits were displayed to the public until the 19th of November, 1911.

At the opening ceremony on May 27, 1911, many distinguished guests were present. They included Senator J. Vittorelli, Perfect of the Turin Province; Senator S. Frola, President of the General Committee of the Turin Exhibition; Comm.A. Bianchi, Vice-President of the Executive Committee of the same; most of the Commissioner-Generals, or their Deputies of the other nations represented at the Exhibition; delegates of the Turin Municipality, Chamber of Commerce, and of the principal Government and Town institutions, the leading artists and business men and the representatives of the Press, both local and foreign.  The ceremony took place in front of the niche of honour adorned with life-size portraits of the King of Siam and his august parents and draped with Siamese royal flags.

The proceedings opened with a speech by Colonel Gerini, the Commissioner-General. He conveyed the greetings of Siam to Italy and Turin, expressing the best wishes for the success of the Exhibition. He emphasized the amicable relations between Italy and Siam. He concluded that it was a great honour having the company at the opening ceremony of the Siam Pavilion and expressed the wish that the exhibition would lead to further increase of commercial exchange between Italy and Siam for their mutual benefit.

Senator Frola, the President of the General Committee of the Turin Exhibition, responded that by the present Exhibition, Siam had fully revealed herself to the world as one of the most progressive nations, socially as well as industrially. He ended by thanking Siam for having participating in the Turin exhibition and wishing her Sovereign, people and country every possible success. Comm. Bianchi followed on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Turin Exhibition

After that, Colonel Gerini led the company around on a visit to the exhibits displayed in the pavilion. Before the day closed over fifty thousand people had made their acquaintance with the Siamese exhibits. The halls were so crowded that progression became a problem. It is no exaggeration to say that every visitor to the exhibition made a particular point of seeing the Siam Pavilion, the faithful reproduction of architectural monuments.

It was a great honour to have welcomed His Majesty the King of Italy who visited the Siam Pavilion on October 5, 1911. Other Siamese Royalty were the H.R.H Prince of Phisanulok on September 25-26, H.R.H Prince of Songkhla on May 23-24.

 

 

Conlclusion : Gerini and his last duty in His Majesty’s service

Gerolmo Emilio Gerini died in Turin on 11 October, 1913. The mission as the commissioner –General at Turin International Exhibition in 1911, responsible for the preparations, installations and operations of the Siam Pavilion was the last duty he performed in His Majesty’s service. He had been awarded a high decoration, the third class White Elephant “Niphaphan”, by His Majesty the King of Siam. In 1911, Colonel Gerini made the Siam pavilion, one which he hoped to have been “highly appreciated  and will certainly find a lasting echo in the heart of the Siamese nation” [31] . This contribution is highly appreciated by Thai people and his name will always echo in the history of our country forever.

 

 

 

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[1] Letter from H.M Prince Rajani and H.E. Phya Phiphat Kosa, Vice President and a committee of the Royal Commission for Foreign Exhibitions, dated the 15th of December, 1910 to His Majesty the King, informing that the collection of products was completed, except for some part which was yet to come due to the delay of some merchants and exhibitors. H.M. the King wished to inspect it before it was sent to Italy. The collection was arranged temporarily in halls attached to the Museum in Bangkok for Royal visit. Leading merchants, exhibitors, principle dignitaries and personages connected with the Royal Commission for Foreign Exhibitions were present at the event on December 23, 1910.

[2] Report by Luang Montri, His Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires in Paris, who was officially invited by the Italian Government to attend the ceremonies which took place in Rome on the 27th of March 1911 for the fiftieth anniversary of the Proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy. On this occasion His Majesty of Siam also telegraphed congratulations directly to H.M the King of Italy.

[3] This became an issue when Prof J.H Gore, a Commissioner-General for Siamese exhibits in Paris in 1900 and in St. Louis in 1904  made an offer direct to His Majesty of Siam to be a member of the Superior Jury of the Turin Exposition. There are many correspondences involved including those by Gerini.

[4] This descriptive catalogue was first printed for the exhibition in December,1911. In 1912, it was revised and brought up to date, with the addition of an Appendix on the results of the Siam Exhibition at Turin. This English edition was printed by Stephen Austin and Sons, Ltd., Hertford in 1912. In 1999, White Lotus Co., Ltd. Bangkok reprinted this catalogue with a forward by Dr Luciano G. Gerini, Cisano sul Neva, September, 1999.

[5] Luang Montri presented his report on this event to His Majesty the King of Siam who received it with great admiration, saying that it was a very good descriptive report.

[6] M. Corragioni d’Orelli, Report on the opening ceremony of the Turin Exhibition of Industries and Labour, National Archives Thailand.(Microfilm No. 6/T15, pp. 82-3)

[7] G.E. Gerini, Siam and Its Productions, Arts,and Manufactures (1911), White Lotus Co.,Ltd., (Bangkok 1999) p. xlvii.

[8] Ibid., p. xlviii.

[9]   Montri or Luang Montri was the Chief of Mission of Siam at the Turin Exhibition. He was Le Chargé d’ Affaires de Siam, Paris. The Turin Exhibition lies in territory under the diplomatic jurisdiction of H.M.’s Legation in Paris.

[10] This telegram was then submitted for His Majesty’s information via H.R.H the Private Secretary to His Majesty the King, H.R.H Prince Krom Luang Prachin, on 1st May, 1911, it is now kept in the National Archives Thailand. (Microfilm No 5/T15)

[11] Luang Montri told in the later part of his report that the Swiss and Chinese Ambassadors and Ambassadors of many countries were not informed about the presentation of their commissioners at all. This was due to a bad and rather confused communication of a cabinet officer. At first all the Ambassadors were told at the opening ceremony in the morning that they were invited to have an audience with the King of Italy at 5 p.m. in the evening. However at 3 p.m. at the Gala Concert of the exhibition, they were told that the Ambassadors did not have to go, only the commissioners were to be present, which was not right according to diplomatic protocol. Even Colonel Gerini hesitated to be present without the chief of the diplomatic mission. It was the Austrian Ambassador who told Luang Montri that the he was here waiting to present his Commissioner to the King of Italy. So Luang Montri and Colonel Gerini went together. The Chinese Ambassador told Luang Montri that Italian Minister was very angry at the cabinet officer, while the Swiss Ambassador was sorry for his Commissioner who deserved to have an audience with the King of Italy as this was a special opportunity for him.

[12] Letter from Luang Montri, His Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires in Paris, to H.R.H Prince Krom Luang Devawongse  Varoprakar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, dated Paris 8th June, 1911, received at Bangkok on the 5th July, reporting the opening of the Turin Exhibition of Industries and Labour, National Archives Thailand (Microfilm No 5/T15)

[13] Ibid. (Microfilm No 5/T15)

[14] letter from Prof J H Gore dated Washington, D.C. May 5th, 1911 to His Majesty the King of Siam, National Archives Thailand (Microfilm No. 6/T15, p.48). In the opening of the letter Prof Gore added, “I make this offer direct to Your Majesty as I have been honoured by Your Majesty’s personal acquaintance.” This was quite different from Colonel Gerini’, who, having served the court of Siam for 25 years as the General Director of Military Education (1892-1905), highly observed the protocol of the Court of Siam and never interfered in the judgment of the authorities even in the smallest possible thing. For example, when he received from the executive Committee of the Turin Exhibition a certain number of preliminary invitations to the grand opening of the Exhibition to be presided over by the King and Queen of Italy and accompanied by the Italian Sovereigns, he forwarded them to Luang Montri, His Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires in Paris, to favour him to list the Siamese gentlemen who should be invited, then he will communicate the list to the Executive Committee and issue the invitation cards in time. His point was “ This because I believe the question as to whom should be invited whether in Italy or abroad has better to be left entirely in your hands, especially because the Siamese Pavilion, as well as the show contained therein, lie in territory under the diplomatic jurisdiction of H.M.’s Legation in Paris”. 

[15] letter from Prof J H Gore dated Washingtone, D.C. May 6th, 1911 to Luang Sanpakitch, His Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires, Washington D.C., National Archives Thailand (Microfilm No. 6/T15, p. 49).

[16] letter from H.H Rajani dated June 19th, 1911 to His Majesty the King via H.R.H Prince Prachib, His Private Secretary. National Archives Thailand (Microfilm No.6/T15, p. 53-4)

[17] His Majesty the King realized that the teamwork was very important to this mission. So he consequently approved Gerini’s proposal for the appointment of Superior and Class Jurors. Prof Gore’s offer was dropped.

[18]  Extract from Colonel Gerini;s dispatch no. 22, dated 23 rd, June, 1911.

[19] The High Jury of the Turin Exhibition awarded twenty-two honourable distinctions in acknowledgment of the high patronage and invaluable assistance which contributed so much towards the brilliant success of the Siamese Exhibition at Turin : Diploma of Special Highest Merit : H.M Maha Vajiravudh, King of Siam, 6 Diplomas of High Merit, 13 Diplomas of Merit, 2 Silver Medals of Collaboration.

[20] G.E. Gerini, p. xlvi.

[21] Corragioni d’Orelli, Report on the Opening Ceremony of the Turin Exhibition of Industries and Labours. National Archives Thailand (Microfilm No 5/T15).

[22] Gerini, pp.294-300.

[23] Gerini, p. 277.

[24] Telegram from Luang Montri, His Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires in Paris His Majesty’s  to H.R.H. Prince Devawongse, Siamese Minister of Foreign Affairs, dated Torino 29th April 1911, received at Bangkok on the 30th April 1911 at 11:48 A.M. This telegram was then submitted for His Majesty’s information via H.R.H the Private Secretary to His Majesty the King, H.R.H Prince Krom Luang Prachin, on 1st May, 1911, It is now kept in National Archives Thailand. (Mocrofilm No 5/T15)

[25] Report on the opening of the Turin Exhibition of Industries and Labour, from Luang Montri, His Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires in Paris, to H.R.H Prince Krom Luang Devawongse  Varoprakar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, dated Paris 8th June, 1911, received at Bangkok on the 5th July. This report was consequently presented to H.R.H Prince Prachin, the Private Secretary to His Majesty the King for His Majesty’ s information in the letter from Prince Devawongse dated July 12, 1911., National Archives Thailand (Microfilm No 5/T15 pp.67-68)

[26] Ibid., p.68

[27] G.. Gerini, p. iii-iv

[28] Siamese exhibits were displayed in many groups and classes :

Group I Culture and Education, Class3

Group III Photohraphy and its Application, Classes 16,17,18

Group VI Public Works, Class 35 and 37

Group VII Means of Transport, Class 38 and 40

Group VIII Navigation, Class 41 and 46

Group X Postal Service, Class 54

Group XI Spriting Industries, Class 59

Group XIII Decoration, Furniture,etc, Class 72

Group XIV Theatre, Class 77

Group XV Sylviculture and Forest Industries, Class 80

Group XVI Agriculture, Class 87, 90, 92, 95

Group XVII Food Industries and Products, Class 98 and 100

Group XVII Extractive and Chemical Industries, Class 106, 110, 115, 118, 119,122,123,124

Group XIX Textile Industries, Class 127, 130

Group XX Wearing-apparel Industry, Class 133, 135, 137

Group XXII Leather and similar Industries, Class 138

Group XXIII The Art of Painting, Class 144, 157

[29] Gerini was fond of Thai customs, history, religion, language, and archaeology. He published many books on Siam: A Retrospective View and Account of the Origin of “Thet Maha Chat” Ceremony” (1892)”The Art of War, Military Organization, Weapons, and Political Maxims of the Ancient Hindus” (1894), “Chulakanta-mangala” or the Tonsure Ceremony, as performed in Siam (1895) “A Trip to the Ancient Ruins of Kamboja” (Asiatic Quarterly Review,April 1904) and Researches on the Ptolemaic Geography of Eastern Asia (Further India and Indo-Malay Archipelago) (1909) and On Siamese Proverbs and Idiomatic Expressions.

[30] Gerini, p. xi.

[31] Gerini, p. xlix.