ppanorama - A wide, unbroken view of an entire surrounding area. A picture or series of pictures representing a horizontally continuous scene, either exhibited all at once, or exhibited one at a time by being unrolled and passed before the audience.

The word "panorama" is derived from the Greek words "pan" (all) and "horama" (view). The word was coined in the late 18th century for a technical form of topographical landscape. An antecedent of the stereoscopticon and Cinerama, panoramas were continuous scenes made to conform to flat or curved surfaces. They surrounded the viewer as colossal circular murals. The term was also used to refer to the buildings specially designed to house them. The panorama was patented as an idea in 1787 by the artist Robert Barker (Irish). "The granting of the patent indicates that this art form was new," Stephen Oettermann wrote in The Panorama: History of a Mass Medium, Zone Books, 1997. "It came to be applied generally to mean a circular vista, an overview (from an elevated point) of a real landscape or cityscape."

Panoramas were a hit from their inception, even though the public had to pay to see them. "There was a need for mass entertainments," Roberta J. M. Olson, curator of an exhibition of panoramas at the New-York Historical Society said in 2001. "In a sense, panoramas were a form of virtual travel and functioned as a democratic Grand Tour. Barker made a fortune with his panoramic views."

The 1830s and 1840s were the heyday of the panorama. The craze subsided in the 1860s, had a short-lived revival in the 1880s, and was supplanted entirely by moving pictures.

Claude Monet produced a 360 degree panoramic painting of waterlilies in a gallery designed for it in the Orangerie, Paris. It is among the most beloved examples in fine art.

At panoramas.dk you can see interactive 360° panoramic photographs that are used to achieve virtual reality (VR). This technology is also called immersive photography. A VR photograph is a panoramic image displayed in a monitor (or other viewing device) that permits a person to interactively pan and tilt in order to gaze in ANY direction. The image allows the viewer to change perspective in order to achieve the sensation of looking around. The site presents these images in fullscreen. It requires that you have Quicktime on your computer. The most seemless of these panoramas reveal no limiting edge no matter how far you pan or tilt.

(pr. pa-no-ra'mə)

Examples of the first type:


see thumbnail to rightJan Brueghel the Elder (Flemish, 1568-1625), A Woodland Road with Travelers, 1607, oil on wood panel, 18 1/8 x 32 3/4 inches (46 x 83.2 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.


see thumbnail aboveJapan, The Battles of Hogen and Heiji, Edo period (1615-1868), 17th century, pair of six-panel folding screens, ink, color, and gold leaf on paper, each 60 15/16 x 11 ft 8 inches (154.8 x 355.6 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See bird's-eye view and Japanese art.


see thumbnail aboveCarle Vernet (Antoine Charles Horace) (French, 1758-1836), The Triumph of Aemilius Paulus, 1789, oil on canvas, 51 1/8 x 172 1/2 inches (129.9 x 438.2 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.



see thumbnail aboveJohn Vanderlyn (American, 1775-1852), The Palace and Gardens of Versailles, 1818-1819, an encircling panoramic view, oil on canvas, 12 x 165 feet (3.6 x 50 m) (30.5 x 127.0 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. This is one of the best known panoramas in the original sense of the term. Vanderlyn commissioned the architect Alexander Jackson Davis (American) to design a building in which to display it in New York City in 1818. Vanderlyn's venture was not a commercial success, however. It bankrupted him.



The Illustrated London News, after daguerreotypes by Richard Beard (English, 1802-1885), Grand Panorama of the Great Exhibition of All Nations, 1851, 1852, hand-colored wood engraving, 11 x 266 inches, Getty Research Institute, Malibu, CA. This is one of 22 objects in the Devices of Wonder exhibit catalogued online by the Getty Museum — best seen with Flash and RealAudio plugins.


see thumbnail aboveWilliam Powell Frith (English, 1819-1909), The Derby Day, 1856-8, oil on canvas, 101.6 x 223.5 cm, Tate Gallery, London.



see thumbnail aboveUnknown American photographer, View of San Francisco, 1853, panorama comprised of six daguerreotype whole-plates in vintage presentation frame, Oakland Museum, CA.



Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (French, 1824-1898), Ludus pro patria (Patriotic Games), oil on canvas, 13 1/8 x 52 7/8 inches (33.3 x 134.3 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.


see thumbnail abovePierre Puvis de Chavannes (French, 1824-1898), Inter artes et naturam (Between Art and Nature), oil on canvas, 15 7/8 x 44 3/4 inches (40.3 x 113.7 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.



see thumbnail aboveFrederic E. Church (American, 1826-1900), The Heart of the Andes, 1859, oil on canvas, 66 1/8 x 119 1/4 inches, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.



Marr & Richards Engraving Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lake Region of Waukesha County, Wisconsin, c. 1890, color lithograph, Waukesha County Museum. This panoramic print depicts an important 19th century summer resort area with numerous small lakes and villages. It provides a key to several points of interest. Here is a link to a detail of Oconomowoc and the lakes nearest to it (including keyed items: A = town of Oconomowoc, 2 = Fowler Lake, 3 = Oconomowoc Lake, B = Townsend House, C = Woodlands Hotel, D = Draper Hall. Not keyed at the upper left is Lac La Belle, nor, north of Draper Hall, "Iliac Crest" — the most beautiful patch of ground in all of America's midwest.)



see thumbnail aboveStauth & Simpson, Birds Eye View of Waco Tex 9/13/17, 1917, panorama photograph, 7 1/2 x 37 inches, Michael Delahunt collection. Although this picture was produced as one continuous shot, the image posted here is pieced from scans of four parts of the photo. On May 15, 1916, 16 months before this photo was taken, the lawn we see beside City Hall the imposing building nearby and to the right of center was the site of the burning and lynching of an African American named Jesse Washington, witnessed by some 15,000 people about half of Waco’s population at the time. The mayor and police chief watched the lynching from City Hall's second story windows, and did not intervene. Then, Washington 's corpse was placed in a burlap bag and dragged around City Hall Plaza, through the main streets of Waco, and seven miles to Robinson, where a large black population resided. Waco is now a city of 113,000 neighboring President Bush's ranch in Crawford. Waco's old city hall was torn down years later, and since 1972, its site has been occupied by the Waco Convention Center and a Hilton Hotel. There is a memorial marker in Waco to the 114 people who died in a 1953 tornado, another memorial to the 80 people killed in 1993 at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, and there is a Dr. Pepper Museum memorializing the Waco drugstore where the drink was invented in 1885. There is no memorial to Mr. Washington. See bird's-eye view.




see thumbnail to rightArthur G. Dove (American, 1880-1946), October, 1935, oil on canvas, 14 x 70 inches, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO.



American, Phoenix, Arizona, 1908. Camelback Mountain can be seen to the north.



American, Mid-New York City Skyline, 1931.



see thumbnail above Kenneth Snelson (American, 1927-), Brooklyn Bridge, 1980, gelatin silver print, 15 1/2 x 91 5/15 inches, Cleveland Museum of Art. See photography.



see thumbnail to rightRackstraw Downes (English, lives and works in New York, 1939-), Mixed Use Field on Texas Coast, 1987, oil on canvas on board, 11 3/4 x 58 5/8 inches, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO.




see thumbnail to leftEric Jervaise (French, contemporary), El Salvador Street, México City, 1999, photograph, collection of the artist. Republica del Salvador Street is a street where electronic products are sold. Eric uses a see thumbnail to rightPanoram-Kodak No.4 camera, a cylindrical projection camera patented in 1894. See more of Eric Jervaise's panoramic photographs.


see thumbnail aboveChad Patteson (American, contemporary), Lacamas Park #1, Washington, 3:00 PM, Feb 24, 2001, [map coordinates:] N 45 35.958 W 122 23.983 (WGS-84), photograph.



Related Links:

Also see aspect ratio, bird's-eye view, di sotto in sù, fan, fish-eye lens, horizontal, landscape, length, pan, panning shot, perspective, point of view, screen, scroll, tracking shot, vertical, wide-angle, wide-angle lens, wide-angle shot, width, and worm's-eye view.






ArtLex Art Dictionary

Copyright © 1996-current year