At the height of their popularity in the mid-19th century, there were hundreds of moving panoramas being used for education and entertainment. Only a fraction of those paintings have survived to the present day, most in very poor condition. The Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley is the only surviving panorama of the Mississippi Valley, originally one of the most popular subjects for panorama paintings.
Fortunately, this long-underappreciated medium has gained attention over the past few years, and efforts are underway to conserve several of these distinctive and important works. Below you’ll find a few other noteworthy panorama paintings.
This panorama depicts scenes from Giuseppe Garibaldi’s campaigns to unify Italy. It is a rare example of a panorama painted on paper, making its preservation to the present day all the more remarkable. It was made in 1860 in England during the height of Garibaldi’s popularity, and is currently housed in the Brown University Library.
At 1,295 ft. long, this panorama may be the longest painting in the world. It depicts whaling scenes around the world, capturing a moment in history where American maritime prowess was greatly increasing the United States’ international influence. The New Bedford Whaling Museum recently began a project to restore this painting.
Housed in the Saco Museum in Maine, this panorama depicts scenes from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. It is currently being featured in their summer special exhibition – they even have a great blog for people to follow along. As part of the exhibition, the museum created a full replica of the 800 ft. panorama to be used in performances just like those of the 19th century.
A list of more panoramas can be found at the Saco Museum’s panorama blog.