Robert Burford (1791-1861), A Miscellaneous Collection of Panoramas and Others (London, 1821-32). 14 v. in 1. Graphic Arts division (GAX) in process

Panoramic displays, offering 360 degree views of exotic scenes, were enormously popular in the 1800s. Some were cleverly painted and lit to give the illusion of day turning into night. Some showed important historical events, such as battle scenes.

The panorama was invented about 1787 by the Scottish-Irish artist Robert Barker (1739-1806). From 1794 to 1863, his family ran an exhibition theater on Leicester Square, where the largest views were about 30 feet high by 90 feet across. Barker’s success led to many others such theaters throughout Europe and the United States.

Barker applied for a patent for his invention, which he called La nature à coup d’oeil, for “representing natural objects … designed so as to make observers, on whatever situation he may wish they should imagine themselves, feel as if really on the very spot.”

For more information, see the CUNY website:

No.1, Guide to the model of the battle of Waterloo.
No.2, A descriptive account of a series of pictures, representing some of the most important battles fought by the French armies in Egypt, Italy, Germany and Spain between the years 1792 and 1812.
No.3, Description of the Egyptian tomb, discovered by G.Belzoni.
No.4, Description du mausolée du maréchal Comte de Saxe, érigé dans l’Église de St.-Thomas, à Strasbourg.
No.5, Description of a view of the city and lake of Geneva, and surrounding country.
No.6, Description of a view of the town of Sydney, New South Wales; the harbour of Port Jackson and surrounding country.
No.7, Description of a view of the city of Florence, and the surrounding country.
No.8, Descriptive catalogue of the gallery of Europe & America.
No.9, Descriptive catalogue of the gallery of Asia & Africa.
No.10, Descriptive catalogue of the cosmorama panoramic exhibition, 209, Regent Street.
No.11, Description of the island and city of Corfu
No.12, Catalogue of the exhibition, called Modern Mexico.
No.13, Description of a view of the city of Mexico, and surrounding country.
No.14, Description of a view of the city of Edinburgh, and surrounding country.