Summary

Programme to accompany a visit to view a panorama of Rome. The programme gives details of a number of highlights of ancient and modern Rome as featured in the painted panorama. As there was no commentary to accompany the view these programmes, sold at the venue, guided the visitor through the large scene. In keeping with the ethos of the time that amusement should also be educational, the programme was also designed to become a permanent souvenir to be taken home.

A panorama is a painting originally showing a 360 degree view of a scene. While the idea of the panorama was independently conceived by contemporary artists in Britain, Germany and America, it was the British Robert Barker, who painted the first panorama and designed the first purpose built building to house it in 1787. By 1794 Barker opened his showroom in Leicester Square, London. The circular building had three levels of viewing platforms and special lighting to allow spectators to see the enormous canvas scenes as realistically as possible, without any extraneous distractions. The central scene was suspended from a hoop measuring approximately 85 metres in length. The panoramas weren't designed to be permanent, and much of their appeal came from their ability to capture topical stories. Panoramas were a popular amusement till the mid-nineteenth century but soon the original meaning of the word blurred and many panorama exhibitions were simply grand scale pictures, rather than the early circular views.

While the Leicester Square building was the first to house panoramas, other establishments such as the Strand and Colosseum in Regent's Park provided competition of similar scale. Other, smaller venues provided cruder version of the entertainment. From London, the vogue for panoramas quickly spread to other parts of Europe.

This programme is part of the Francis Collection of pre-cinematic apparatus and ephemera, acquired by the Australian and Victorian Governments in 1975. David Francis was the curator of the National Film and Sound Archive of the British Film Institute as well as being a co-founder of the Museum of the Moving Image in London, which was operational between 1988 and 1999.

Description of Content

Panorama. "Panorama of Rome". Companion Pub. by Leigh & Sons, 421 The Strand London.

Physical Description

Booklet of 24 pages. Front cover of paper, with pasted on engraved image. Printed in black.

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