Sunday, February 17, 2019

John Banvard's Mississippi Panorama

In 1840, John Banvard was obsessed with the idea of painting the largest picture in the world, so he got to work on it.


"He acquired an open skiff and began making sketches of the entire Mississippi River, shooting game for food, and painting and showing pictures en route. Finally when he had finished his sketches he retired to Louisville where he transferred them to canvas, making a panorama. The picture required three miles of canvas Surely this was the largest picture in the world!"

Banvard's panorama was made up of paintings stitched together into a long scroll that could be advanced by a set of cranks and gears on the side. He took his work to London, where it inspired other artists to create panoramas.

5 comments:

Susan Krzywicki said...

Did it survive to this day?

Brian Blankenship said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Blankenship said...

Susan, on the interactive website it talks about several items that were done similar to this, but this is the only one that survives to this day. I initially thought it said only one panel of this group survived. Unfortunately only the first thumbnail worked and all others popped up as 404 file not found error.

mayamocha said...

I love learning about things I never even knew existed. In the process of googling John Banvard, I found this site that has information on some other Mississippi panoramas and the making of one as a backdrop for a musical about Banvard: http://www.thecrankiefactory.com/348971248

Also, yesterday I was reading about a different form of panorama, made out of azulejos (painted tiles) which shows Lisbon before the earthquake of 1755. It is on display at Portugal's National Tile Museum:
https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/KgKiceMYFOAfIA?hl=pt-PT

This art form is fascinating because you see them everywhere in Portugal, and in all types of art: history of a region, house numbers, religious, train stations. They are all hand made and the illustrations are hand-painted, so even in patterns there is not an overly-machined look to them.

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