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Austria: Sattler’s Cyclorama

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The cyclorama was an 18th century invention that was first realized in Edinburgh in 1787 by an Irish painter. Panorama pictures of this kind often stand as high as 15 metres and are over 100 metres in breadth. They were enormously popular in the 19th century when they were transported to and from all over Europe, providing the only opportunity many people had for seeing foreign cities and countries. Panorama pictures only began to decline in significance with the rapid advances made in technology (in photography and film) and changes in society.

Sattler's cyclorama is one of the world's only remaining city panoramas and is housed in Salzburg's Carolino Augusteum Museum. The picture encompasses the entire city and the surrounding countryside, depicted with great topographical precision. It is 4.86 metres high and has a circumference of 25.81 metres.

Johann Michael Sattler was born on 28 September 1786 in Herzogenburg in Lower Austria and died on 28 September 1847 in Mattsee near Salzburg. He studied at the Vienna Academy and worked in Salzburg from 1819. The idea for a panorama painting of the city of Salzburg probably came from Emperor Franz I himself. Sattler began preliminary sketches in 1824, starting with the view from Salzburg Castle. Others who participated in the production of the gigantic painting were the painter Friedrich Loos (responsible principally for the landscapes) and Johann Joseph Schindler (the figures). On its completion in 1829 the panorama was initially exhibited on Salzburg's market place (Hannibal Square as it was called then).

Thereafter, Sattler and his entire family, plus carpenters, travelled throughout Europe, mostly on their own houseboat, in order to display the picture in a transportable circular temple. His travels helped spread Salzburg's name as a beautiful city and helped to lay the foundations of the city's image. In 1870 Sattler's son Hubert presented the painting as a gift to the city of Salzburg. A pavilion to house the panoramas and cosmoramas was built in the Kurgarten park, but was demolished in 1937. Between 1977 and 2001 the painting was again exhibited publicly in the Casino on the Monchsberg. In 2003 work began on the construction of a new home for the panorama on the site of the old 5010-district post office whilst a comprehensive renovation restored it to its original condition, as modern technology had established that in the course of time it had been restored and over-painted eight times.

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