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The First Panoramas: Visions of British Imperialism


The First Panoramas: Visions of British Imperialism Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The First Panoramas is a cultural history of the first three decades of the panorama, a three-hundred-sixty-degree visual medium patented by the artist Robert Barker in Britain in 1787. A towering two-story architectural construction inside which spectators gazed on a 10,000-square-foot painting, Barker’s new technology was designed to create an impression of total verisimilitude for the observer.

In the beautifully illustrated The First Panoramas, Denise Blake Oleksijczuk demonstrates the complexity of the panoramas’ history and cultural impact, exploring specific exhibits: View of Edinburgh and the Adjacent Country from the Calton Hill (1788), View of London from the Roof of the Albion Mill (1791), View of the Grand Fleet Moored at Spithead (1793), and the two different versions of View of Constantinople (1801). In addition to the art itself, she examines the panoramas’ intriguing descriptive keys—single-sheet diagrams that directed spectators to important sites in the representation, which evolved over time to give the observer greater perceptual control over the view.

Using the surviving evidence, much of it never published before, on the early exhibitions of these massive installations, Oleksijczuk reconstructs the relationships between specific paintings, their accompanying printed guides, and the collective experiences of different audiences. She argues that by transporting its spectators to increasingly distant locations, first in the city and country and then in the world beyond Britain’s borders, the panorama created a spatial and temporal disjunction between “here” and “there” that helped to forge new national and social identities.

Book News Annotation:

The panorama was a 360-degree visual illustration created by Irish artist Robert Barker in 1787. To view the panorama, spectators stood inside a two-story construction to view a set of 10,000-square-foot paintings of scenes, cityscapes, and battles, giving spectators the illusion of standing on an elevated viewpoint overlooking the scene. This book examines the history and cultural impact of Barker's panoramas in Britain, with special focus on the diagrams which accompanied the panoramas, which directed observers to various features and landmarks. The book looks at the panoramas as a site for the formation of national identities and in the discourses of imperialism. An appendix lists exhibition dates, 1793-1825. The book includes b&w historical illustrations from the panoramas, plus a fold-out centerfold of color historical illustrations placed over a timeline of exhibition dates. Oleksijczuk teaches in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


Exploring the 60-degree panorama: the late eighteenth-century origins of immersive visual spectacle.

About the Author

Denise Blake Oleksijczuk is assistant professor at the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Robert and Henry Aston Barkers Panorama

1. Nature at a Glance

2. Selling the Panorama to London

3. The King and Queen Visit the Panorama

4. The Views of Constantinople

5. The Keys to Panoramas





Product Details

Oleksijczuk, Denise Blake
University of Minnesota Press
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
10 x 8.5 x 1.5 in

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » History » Romanticism
Arts and Entertainment » Art » Miscellaneous Techniques
Arts and Entertainment » Art » Painting » General
Arts and Entertainment » Art » Technique
History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » General History
History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » Oversized Books
History and Social Science » World History » England » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

The First Panoramas: Visions of British Imperialism New Trade Paper
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Product details 264 pages University of Minnesota Press - English 9780816648610 Reviews:
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Exploring the 60-degree panorama: the late eighteenth-century origins of immersive visual spectacle.
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