The Crystal Palace, an exhibition hall in Hyde Park, London, was the site of the first international exposition in 1851. The exposition was a great success, attracting more than six million visitors during the five months that it was open to the public. The impressive structure, consisting of an intricate network of slender iron rods sustaining walls of glass, was built expressly for the exposition and was not intended to be permanent. The main body of the building was 1,848 feet (563 m) long and 408 feet (124 m) wide; the central transept was 108 feet (33 m) high. The Crystal Palace established an architectural standard for later international exhibitions, several of which were likewise housed in glass conservatories.
John Jabez Edwin Mayall may have made this daguerreotype from the second tier in order to encompass the scale of the building. The full-grown tree in the image's center, which does not even reach the ceiling, gives a dramatic indication of just how large the building was. An imperial plate size, the daguerreotype was one of the largest ever made. American daguerreotypes were larger than those made elsewhere; the American Mayall surely saw this grandiose building as warranting equally impressive treatment.