International Exhibitions began to focus more on social issues.
The spread of a positivist culture, faith in progress born from developments in science and technology, industrialisation and colonialism could not fail to evoke among the middle classes feelings of piety and a humanitarian concern for improving the lives of the most disadvantaged. Accordingly, the International Exhibitions also found themselves involved in social issues: the heroic achievements of medicine were joined by a silent public awareness about the “victims of labour” and the brutality experienced by rural workers. Arab and Ottoman artists, visiting the studios of Western painters, partly encouraged the cultural exchange between East and West, but while some Western styles and techniques were introduced, their paintings appear to give rise to a figure of contemporary womanhood that was closer to reality and which is represented with renewed sensitivity. The same female figures that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century as the protagonists in Gustave Klimt’s decorative schemes interwoven with gold and polychrome tiles were derived from Byzantine mosaics.