/pan'euh ram"euh, -rah"meuh/, n.1. an unobstructed and wide view of an extensive area in all directions.2. an extended pictorial representation or a cyclorama of a landscape or other scene, often exhibited a part at a time and made to pass continuously before the spectators.3. a building for exhibiting such a pictorial representation.4. a continuously passing or changing scene or an unfolding of events: the panorama of Chinese history.5. a comprehensive survey, as of a subject.[1790-1800; PAN- + Gk (h)órama view, sight, deriv. of horân to see, look]Syn. 1. scene, vista, prospect.
* * *Narrative scene or landscape painted to conform to a curved or flat background, which surrounds or is unrolled before the viewer.Popular in the late 18th and 19th centuries, it was an antecedent of the stereopticon and motion pictures. The true panorama is exhibited on the walls of a large cylinder, and the viewer stands on a platform in the cylinder's centre and turns around to see all points of the horizon. The first panorama, a view of Edinburgh, was executed in 1788 by the Scottish painter Robert Barker (1739–1806). In the mid-19th century the rolled panorama became popular: a painting on canvas was wound between two poles and slowly unrolled behind a frame or revealed in sections.
* * *in the visual arts, continuous narrative scene or landscape painted to conform to a flat or curved background, which surrounds or is unrolled before the viewer.Panoramas are usually painted in a broad and direct manner, akin to scene, or theatrical, painting. Popular in the late 18th and the 19th centuries, the panorama was essentially the antecedent of the stereopticon and of motion pictures, especially animations and the process called Cinerama. The true panorama is exhibited on the walls of a large cylinder, the earliest version about 18 m (60 feet) in diameter and later ones as large as 40 m (130 feet) in diameter. The viewer, who stands on a platform in the cylinder centre, turns around and successively sees all points of the horizon. The effect of being surrounded by a landscape or event may be heightened by the use of indirect lighting to give the illusion that light is emanating from the painting itself.The first panorama was executed by the Scottish painter Robert Barker, who exhibited in Edinburgh in 1788 a view of that city, followed by panoramas of London and battle scenes from the Napoleonic Wars. Another early panorama painter, the American John Vanderlyn (Vanderlyn, John), painted in 1816–19 “The Palace and Gardens of Versailles” (preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City), exhibiting it until 1829 in a rotunda that he built on a leased corner of City Hall Park in New York City. By the mid-19th century panoramas became a widespread, popular form of entertainment. Among the important works of this period was Henri Philippoteaux's “Siege of Paris,” depicting an event in the Franco-Prussian War. His son Paul painted the panorama “The Battle of Gettysburg” (1883), exhibiting it in several American cities before its permanent installation in Gettysburg, Pa. Other examples survive at The Hague and in Quebec City. A higher form of panoramic art is the Chinese and Japanese traditional hand scroll painting on paper or silk. (See also diorama, cyclorama.)Additional ReadingRichard D. Altick, Shows of London (1978); Stephan Oettermann, The Panorama: History of a Mass Medium, trans. by Deborah Lucas Schneider (1997; originally published in German, 1980).
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