Invented in 1788, the panorama reached the height of its popularity at the time of the 1900 Universal Exhibition. Designed to be viewed from centrally placed platforms, these vast circular canvases were installed in purpose-built rotundas in major European and American cities and towns, and attracted large crowds of admirers. They were created by collaborative teams of specialist painters, and the more ambitious of these installations included fake terrain and artificial scented breezes to give the vistas and historic events depicted a more authentic feel. The aim was to produce a perfect illusion of reality. This text surveys a wide variety of examples created in both the Old and New Worlds, from the medium's invention to the present day.
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(270mm x 225mm x 20mm)
Publisher: Reaktion Books
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UK Kirkus Review »
The panorama was the 19th century's version of 'virtual reality'. It was an enormous circular canvas (some were as long as 400 feet), displayed in purpose-built rotunda and typically depicting a landscape or cityscape, great battle or important event. The idea was that the individual, viewing from a central platform, would be able to enter and engage with the scene far more profoundly than with any conventional painting. Comment's absorbing and original study is superbly illustrated with some fine examples of the genre from around the world. He reveals the panorama both as a vehicle for some fine artistic achievement and as a fascinating insight into the perceptions and sensibilities of contemporaries. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Bernard Comment
Bernard Comment, born in Switzerland, lives and works in Paris. He is the author of L'ombre de memoire (1990), Roland Barthes, vers le neutre (1991) and Allees et venues (1992), which won the Prix Antigone in 1993."