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panorama


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‘A picture of a landscape or other scene, either arranged on the inside of a cylindrical surface round the spectator as a centre (a cyclorama), or unrolled or unfolded and made to pass before him, so as to show the various parts in succession’ (OED). In 1787 a patent for such a 360-degree painting was given to Robert Barker (1739–1806), an Irish-born painter working in Edinburgh, and the type soon became a popular form of entertainment: ‘Panorama painting seems all the rage’, Constable wrote in 1803. Panoramas were indeed a kind of forerunner of the popular cinema and tended to be remarkable for sheer spectacle rather than artistic merit. Leading artists were sometimes associated with them, however, notably Girtin, who made a panorama of London, now lost, and Mesdag, whose panorama of Scheveningen can still be seen in The Hague. In more general parlance, the term ‘panorama’ is used of any wide, uninterrupted view over a scene, particularly a landscape.

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