“Unlimiting the Bounds”: The Panorama and the Balloon View

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Until the late eighteenth century, the predominant mode of landscape representation was the bird’s-eye view. This type of image offered the onlooker a high viewpoint outside the subject depicted within the frame of representation, whether a city, a coastline, or a pastoral scene. The aim to show as much as possible outweighed the concern for true perspective and straight sightlines. Robert Harbison captured the dynamic of the bird’s-eye view when he commented, of Wenceslaus Hollar’s 1648 “Long View” of London, “This is not exactly London as anyone experiences it, but London laid out neatly in the mind’s eye, where one can enumerate its features and remind oneself of many separate things at once.”(1)

“Unlimiting the Bounds”: The Panorama and the Balloon View

Long View of London from Bankside, a panoramic etching made by Wenceslas Hollar in Antwerp, 1647. The image is six plates that join together, each consisting of drawings made from a single viewpoint, the tower of St. Saviour in Southwark (now Southwark Cathedral.)