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Narrative scene or landscape painted to conform to a curved or flat background, which surrounds or is unrolled before the viewer. Popular in the late 18th and 19th centuries, it was an antecedent of the stereopticon and motion pictures. The true panorama is exhibited on the walls of a large cylinder, and the viewer stands on a platform in the cylinder's centre and turns around to see all points of the horizon. The first panorama, a view of Edinburgh, was executed in 1788 by the Scottish painter Robert Barker (1739–1806). In the mid-19th century the rolled panorama became popular: a painting on canvas was wound between two poles and slowly unrolled behind a frame or revealed in sections.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on panorama, visit Britannica.com.