Panoramas and Prints
By Charles A. Eve a.r.c.a.
before the days of Moving Pictures one of the events of the year was the visit
to the town of the Panorama. Being taken to see this was a long-looked-for
treat, and afterwards a favourite occupation for children was the making of
miniature panoramas and showing them to each other, in the winter evenings, at
the small admission price of two pins.
first step was the collection of suitable pictures, about the size of the
Graphic, which were not printed on the back, so that they could be shown by the
light of a candle behind. These were stuck together end to end and mounted on
rollers, in a box with the bottom knocked out, and a proscenium made of pieces
this method of printing, which had only been discovered in the early part of the
19th century by Alvis Senefelder, who published the first book in English on
Lithography in 1819, and died in 1824, the original drawing is made the
reverse way with greasy chalk on a piece of prepared limestone. The stone is
afterwards wetted so that the printing ink will take only on the chalk surface,
and from this the lithograph is obtained.
introduction gave a great impetus to artists because it enabled them to make
their drawings direct on the stone with a resulting texture similar to that of a
chalk or pencil drawing, from which a number of prints could be made without the
intervention of another artist as with copperplate or wood engraving.
of the first to use this method in the West of England was John Pope Vibert, a
man of many parts, born 1790, who carried on business as Bookseller, Watchmaker
and Jeweller, at 2, Market Place, Penzance. He was also superintendent of the
building of the new Market House in 1835, and when he was way warden in 1836-7
introduced fiat-paving in the streets and is said to have been the originator of
all public improvements for many years.
grandfather, James Eva, who had a painting and decorating business in a house
called the Birdcage, which was opposite Vibert’s, where the Market House now
earliest prints of Penzance and the district seem to have been drawn by James
Tonkin in 1834; the prints of the Logan Rock, Sennen Church, and the First and
Last Inn are by him. Tonkin died in 1837 and in that year John Skinner Prout,
who was a nephew of Samuel Prout the celebrated water-colour artist, came to
Penzance and drew at least 16 lithos, from 1827 to 1838, of the churches,
crosses and views, including the old Market House and the Market Cross, which
were all printed by Vibert.
1840 the method seems to have become commercialized and the auto-Iitho
disappeared until it was revived by Whistler, Pennell, Fantin Latour and others.
Some good examples of these will be found in the early. numbers of the Studio.
these early prints were in black-and-white; later, colour prints were obtained
by using a stone for each colour. Sometimes up to twenty stones were used and to
obviate the immense weight of so many stones experiments were made, when it was
found that zinc plates could be used instead of stone, and the result was
Panoramas are now a thing of the past and few of these early lithographs remain, but those that do are well worth preserving, not only for their pictorial value, but as the work of these pioneers of an early method of reproduction.
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