Cyclorama

Sketch for The Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama, ink on photographic paper, 1886.

In the summer of 1885, artists from the American Panorama Company in Milwaukee began developing sketches for The Battle of Atlanta painting. German artists created a series of small scale drawings to represent the 360º depiction of the 1864 battle, including the one above, which still bears paint splotches from its illustrator. Grid squares allowed the artists to proportionately scale each sketch to the massive size of the painting. This scene depicted the intense fighting around the George Troup Hurt House, which was located on DeGress Avenue in present-day East Atlanta.

The enormous painting, 42 feet tall and 358 feet in circumference, debuted in Detroit in February 1887. It then travelled to Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Chattanooga, Nashville, and finally to Atlanta where it has been exhibited —with few interruptions— since 1892.

In 1934-1936, funded by the Works Progress Administration, artists Weis Snell, Joseph Llorens, and Wilbur Kurtz fashioned plaster figures for a diorama as foreground for the painting. Set on a flooring of red clay, the shrubbery, cannon, track, and 128 soldiers gave the painting more realism for visitors.

Conservators work to restore The Battle of Atlanta cyclorama painting at Atlanta History Center, 2018.

In July 2014, Mayor Kasim Reed announced the relocation and restoration of the Cyclorama to the Atlanta History Center. The History Center restored The Battle of Atlanta painting to its original hourglass shape, size, and overall height, to recreate the painting’s original visual perspective that has been lost for nearly one-hundred years.

The painting is now view in the 23,000- square-foot Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker Cyclorama Building tat the Atlanta History Center’s campus.

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