Cyclorama

Almost 4 stories high and 400 feet around the Minneapolis Cyclorama was built to display a giant, painted spectacle of the Battle of Atlanta. Construction on the building, located at Fifth and Marquette began in 1885. The huge canvas was the project of German artist, William Wehner, who set out to create a series of 360 degree paintings for display in large cities. Wehner imported a staff of 12 Prussian painters, many of whom worked on continental cycloramas glorifying German victories in the Franco-Prussian War.

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Much of the work was done in a Milwaukee studio. Three artists worked on landscapes, five painted figures and the rest did the animals. When it finally arrived in 1887 The Battle of Atlanta drew large crowds to the Minneapolis Cyclorama . Visitors were led to the center of the  room where the enormous oil painting climbed 50 feet up the walls around them. The battlefield in the foreground contained life-size soldiers,horses, wagons and blazing cannons. General John “Black Jack” Logan, was depicted galloping through a broken union line, waving his hat, urging his men to regroup. Unfortunately the novelty didn’t take long to wear off , the crowds didn’t last and the Cyclorama closed less than a year after it opened.

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The New England Furniture and Carpet Company purchased the building, remodeled and added it to their existing store.The company had a popular installment plan and advertised with the slogan, Your Credit is Good at New England. On June26th, 1921, New England took out a full-page in the Minneapolis Tribune to announce a final round up and removal sale before their move to First Avenue and Fifth Street . New England did business in the old Cyclorama for 34 years. After they moved out the building demolished to make way for the Minneapolis Federal Reserve bank.

Cyclomap

3 Comments

  1. I am writing the first spreadsheet from the American point of view about 19th century rotunda panoramas.These were the biggest paintings in the world,50 x 400=20,000 square feet, housed in their own rotundas which were 16-sided polygons. Chicago in 1893 had 6 panorama companies and 6 panorama rotundas. INFO TO SHARE genemeier@frontier.com

  2. Karen Cooper

    And the Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama still exists, is being restored, and will be viewable in Atlanta later this year. Remarkable.

    • On September 18,2003 I found in the display case of Milwaukee County Historical Society the F.W.Heine diaries 1879-1921. These illustrated diaries are the only narrative of a panorama company, that of William Wehner (1847-1928), of Chicago, who from 1885-88 produced 2 units of BATTLE OF ATLANTA, 2 units of MISSIONARY RIDGE & LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN and 3 units of JERUSALEM ON THE DAY OF THE CRUCIFIXION. The Heine diaries are as important to the history of rotunda panorama as the letters of Theo and Vincent Van Gogh are important to the history of Post Impressionism. The diaries needed to be transcribed in German, translated to English, scanned to computer. Michael Kutzer, born 1941 in Dresden, is transcriber of the F.W.Heine diaries. Recently he released to me summaries of the Heine diaries 1885-1892 to edit,annotate and index. Info to share.genemeier@frontier.com

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