Commemorations

Schadaupark Thun, Panorama Thun in 1809. Photo: TES.

The Panorama of Thun

The Panorama of Thun (1809) by Marquard Wocher (1760-1830) is the oldest preserved panorama of the world and 210 years old nowadays. Not more than 21 other panoramic pictures created before 1900 survived, four of those can be seen in Switzerland, in Einsiedeln (crucifixion of Christ), in Murten (battle of Murten 1476) Luzern (retreat of general Bourbaki to Switzerland (1871) and Thun (city of Thun around 1809). The panorama is a special art and media form, very popular in the nineteenth century.

It was the first optical mass medium and people could see their cities, landscapes, historical events and battles. It was a time of globalisation, the beginning of the industrial and scientific revolution and the rise of tourism to the Orient, to Switzerland and the Alps. Only a few people could afford these travels, however, and panorama’s offered a spectacular, accessible and not too expensive possibility (most panorama’s asked a reduced entrance fee).

The first panorama was exhibited by Robert Barker (1739-1806) in 1787, the first cyclorama of London. Standing on a platform, one could see the whole city. Many panorama’s followed, but by the end of the nineteenth century and the appearance of photography, trains and cars, people got other sources and the panorama disappeared. Most panorama’s were sold in pieces or destroyed. The panorama makes a spectacular comeback however, as Yadegar Asisi (1955) shows by his panorama’s (Rome 312, Battle of Leipzig 1813, Pergamon museum pieces from the antique world (Berlin) and Luther 1517 (Wittenberg).

The Thun panorama was saved, by luck, financing and vision of a few. It shows the city of Thun around 1809, originally in Basel, from 1899 in Thun and in 1961 in the rotunda in the Schadaupark in Thun. Thun was the ideal Swiss city: city, lake and montains on the background. The panorama is a unique document of life, buildings and nature in and around Thun. (Source: D. Imhof and others (Eds), Marquand Wocher. Das Panorama von Thun, Thun, 2009).