A Concise History of the Panorama


The Panorama is an art form which encircles the spectator with an illusion of continuous space, often in a painted 360º format. Patented by Englishman Robert Barker in 1787, this spectacular visual entertainment flourished throughout the 19th century, mostly in Europe and the United States. The Panorama, Cyclorama, Diorama, Cosmorama and other multitudinous variations on the sensational venue were popular places to spend leisure time and embark upon imagined travels to unfamiliar and significant places in space and time.


Cross section of a panorama:

(A) Box office and entrance.
(B) Dark corridor and cylindrical center staircase.
(C) Observation platform.
(D) Viewer's field of vision.
(E) 360-degree circular canvas.
(F) Three-dimensional faux terrain elements.
(G) Trompe l'oeil elements painted directly onto canvas.