What happened in 1902?


Do you know what happened in 1902? An outline of significant events that took place in the year 1902.

Also featuring galleries of images to illustrate the culture, art, design, cinema, fashion and photography of 1902.


Background History

  • Kind Edward VII is crowned King of Great Britain. He introduces the Order of Merit for those who excel in science, art and literature.
  • Alfonso XIII becomes King of Spain.
  • The new vacuum cleaner is showcased whilst preparing Westminster Abbey before the King’s coronation.
  • The end of the Boer War. A unified South Africa is given Commonwealth status.
  • The Commonwealth Franchise Act is passed in Australia. This ensures that many (but not all) women can vote and stand for federal election.
  • Cuba gains independence from USA.
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex bones are found in Montana, USA.
  • Arthur Balfour becomes Prime Minister of Great Britain.
  • Invention of a sheet glass drawing machine allows mass production of windows.
  • Great Britain signs alliance with Japan.
  • Peasant revolt in the Ukraine and Volga region.
  • Radium is isolated as a pure metal by Pierre and Marie Curie.
  • Earthquake in Guatemala and volcanoes erupt in Martinique, St Vincent, Japan and Nicaragua killing thousands.
  • US President “Teddy” Roosevelt refuses to kill a captive bear on a hunt. This creates a fashion for teddy bear toys.
  • Gold is discovered in Nevada and Alaska.
  • Audubon Society establishes bird sanctuary in Florida to protect birds from plume hunters.
  • Bureau of Reclamation is formed in the USA and begins a number of irrigation projects to divert water from rivers.
  • W.R. Hearst allows the first ever syndication of a newspaper comic strip.


Many artists are experimenting with colour:
Raoul Dufy paints Nude on a Pink Sofa.
Paul Gauguin paints The Call.
Pablo Picasso paints Blue Nude.

Claude Monet continues his London paintings of Waterloo Bridge.

Hamilton King produces series of nostalgic painted sketches for Turkish Trophies cigarettes, a brand from the American Tobacco Company.

Gustav Klimt paints Portrait of Emilie Flöge.


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Bildnis Emilie Floege, 1902


Naum Gabo creates Constructed Head no2 sculpture.

Vienna Secession exhibitions: The Secession holds an exhibition to celebrate composer Beethoven. Klimt’s Beethoven frieze is shown and Max Klinger’s marble sculpture of Beethoven.


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Beethoven-Frieze, 1902: the Longing f…
Gustav Klimt


Paris holds the first ever Congress for Professional Photographers.

Alfred Stieglitz establishes the Photo-Secession group in the USA. Its aim is to present photography as an art form or as a medium for fine artists. It is inspired by the Linked Ring brotherhood in the UK.


Founder of Tiffany & Co jewellery firm, Charles Lewis Tiffany dies. His son, artist Louis Comfort Tiffany, takes over the business and introduces glassware to the designs.

Ernst Wahliss begins to produce crown-marked EW Vienna porcelain.

Doulton Pottery produces lion and crown insignia Burslem.

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The Flatiron Building, Manhattan



The Fuller Building is constructed in New York City – to become known as The Flatiron Building. It has a Beaux-Arts style façade.

St Mark’s Campanile bell tower collapses in Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy.


Rudyard Kipling 1902
Emile Zola dies in Paris.

JM Barrie publishes The Little White Bird with a minor character named Peter Pan.

The Collected Works of Anton Chekov are published.

Novella The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is published.

As is The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Wings of the Dove by Henry James is published.

And Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.

The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason is published.


Claude Debussy popularises the Impressionist movement in music. The opera Pelléas and Mélisande opens in Paris.

Opera singer Nellie Melba returns to her native Australia to tour after 16 years in Europe building a successful career as a soprano.


Charles R. Debevoise invents and produces the first ever brassière. It is not popular at all.

Women: shirt waist high-necked pouter pigeon silhoette and trumpet skirt shapes continue to dominate day wear. Hats get bigger with more feathers, flowers and lace attached. Corsets are still s-shapes, encouraging a healthy posture.

Lingerie dresses are growing in popularity. Inspired by the aesthetic dresses worn by bohemian women in the late 19th Century, the loose unrestricted style is becoming popular for tea dresses and informal ladies wear.

Green is a highly fashionable colour this year.

Men: waistcoats and jackets fasten high on the chest. In the US, men’s styles are more casual than in Europe, with brighter colours.

Here is my Pinterest gallery for fashion in 1902:

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Melies: Backdrop, 1902


Modern dancer Loie Fuller invites Isadora Duncan to tour with her throughout Europe. They introduce Free Dance, the precursor to modern dance styles and the antithesis of ballet.

Paris café singer Polaire makes her first major appearance at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, in writer Colette’s Claudine a Paris.


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Willy, Colette and Polaire


French film A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) by Georges Méliès is shown.
Based on Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to the Moon” and H.G. Welles’ “The First Men in the Moon,” it is the story of an expedition to the moon as a team of scientists are shot from a cannon.

The Prolific Egg (L’oeuf du sorcier) is Méliès first appearance in one of his own films.

The first movie theatre in the USA opens as part of a carnival in Los Angeles. It is named Electric Theatre.

Gaston Méliès (brother of Georges) moves to New York from France to protect the copyright of Méliès films which are being ripped-off by copycats in the USA. He forms the Star Film Company in New York and starts to distribute his brother’s films.

Pinterest gallery of 1902 fashion
Pinterest gallery of 1902
Pictify gallery of 1902

This 1902 post and Pinterest/Pictify pages get added to as time goes by.

Please do leave a comment below if you think something should be added to the timeline or galleries.

See what happened in other years in the 1900s

2 Comments on “What happened in 1902?

  1. Magnificent, very informative. I stumbled upon this I have found It absolutely helpful. Good job.

    • Thank you. I’ve learned so much information from focussing on just one year at a time. There’ll be plenty more to come.

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