View Full Version : Which is better Atlanta or Gettysburg cyclorama?
07-24-2008, 10:55 PM
Atlanta Cyclorama gets some competition from Gettysburg
(excerpt of story)
By BO EMERSON
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/24/08
The Atlanta Cyclorama, a mammoth, in-the-round depiction of the July 22, 1864, Battle of Atlanta, is billed as the largest oil painting in the world.
But now there is a new kid on the block.
The newly renovated Gettysburg Cyclorama, which will open to the public at the historic Pennsylvania battlefield in September, has been restored to its original 42 feet in height and 377 feet in circumference. That trumps the Atlanta painting by about 798 square feet.
Atlanta's cyclorama was originally 50-by-400 feet when it was painted in 1885-86, but damage over the years has reduced the total area to 42-by-358-feet.
Both are impressive works of art — paintings embellished with dioramas that create a 3-D effect. Both depict battles that were not only turning points in the Civil War, but of lasting significance to the communities in which they occurred. Both are rare survivors of an era when monumental paintings would tour the country and draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to experience a sort of 19th century Imax. And they are the only two such cycloramas on display in this country.....
07-24-2008, 11:18 PM
Which is better? For historical value the award goes to Atlanta.
I've stood at the focal point of both cycloramas, where the artist once stood to compose the scene. At Gettysburg you see almost the exact same landscape as in the painting today.
However, at Atlanta you see a much altered scene that now contains a railroad yard, a shabby suburban neighborhood, and a roadside historical marker tucked behind a chain link fence. The sign reads in part: "Near this site, in 1885, the battlefield was studied from a tower erected by the artists who created the Cyclorama: this established the viewing point of the big picture."
Atlanta is the therefore the "better" of the two because it provides a rare record of what the battlefield once looked like.
The tree just to the right of the house in the painting is "the tall pine" used as a signal station mentioned on the historical sign, however in reality the Troup-Hurt House was a couple of hundred yards farther away from the tree. The artists took some lisence in order to bring the unfinished house closer to the viewer. A small church sits on the Troup-Hurt house site today:
Ross L. Lamoreaux
07-25-2008, 12:07 AM
I guess I'm more partial to Atlanta as well. It really is hard to imagine the battles taking place in that urban sprawl without a trip or three to see the cyclorama. It has quite a nice little museum with it, and the show is done pretty well.
07-25-2008, 12:34 AM
As a RR buff as well, I have to mentionthe famous locomotive "Texas" is there as well......at least for now. Rumors have been around a while that the Southern Museum may be negotiating bring her Kennesaw and be displayed with the "General". Hopefully if this happens the "Texas" will get restored to a similar state as he "General" (even though the General appears as she did after a number of conversions) since the "Texas" is not in nearly the condition of the "General" if I remember correctly but it has been a few years since I've been to the Atlanta Cyclorama.
07-25-2008, 02:20 AM
For me, the added value of the foreground in Atlanta was nice. The painting seemed to flow seamlessly into the additional figure, etc. Rather well done.
07-25-2008, 06:20 AM
But don't forget that the Gettysburg Cyclorama is the largest existing painting in the world, even in its incomplete state. It is a lot older than the Atlanta painting, and has had a lot rougher handling during its lifetime.
I'm partial to G'burg's Cyclorama because my wife used to "run" the show at the Starship Cyclorama when she was an NPS ranger. I have seen the Atlanta Cyclorama and enjoyed the "ride" plus the Clark Gable figure that was added back in the 1930s.
07-25-2008, 07:25 AM
This past weekend a number of us who donated items for inclusion in the "diorama" which will now be the foreground of the Gettysburg Cyclorama got treated to a "sneak preview" of the restored and rehung painting.
I last saw it when I was about 7 and can't remember much about how it was displayed. As we arrived, the staff were saying "Oh, you can't believe how much brighter it is, it's really something now." And I was thinking "Ok, brighter is nice, but c'mon, it's a painting, granted a big painting, but how breathtaking can it be?"
It is now hung in a circular tower at the top of the Gettysburg Visitor's Center, and you enter to view it through a stairway that leads you up through the floor into a circular viewing platform about 20 feet off the floor.
Seeing it this week was a breath-taking, transcendent experience for me.
There is now a canopy above the viewing platform that leads the eye into the sky, the sky has been entirely repainted (I gather it was completely chopped off previously), they found several figures in bits and pieces that had been painted out of the picture, and have recreated several very large chunks (like 15 - 20 foot swaths of the painting) from documentation and paintings used to create it in the first place.
I saw it under stark lighting, without a key, the proper lighting, or music or whatever, and without the diorama in place. There were guys with hard hats walking around creating dirt that will be the rocks and ground on the diorama. And one of the cannon was there, swathed in plastic sheeting to protect it during construction.
And I wanted to stay for hours and hours. I'm definately going back after it opens in September.
I was never much of a Cyclorama fan before this. I now completely understand how this would be a spectator draw in the years before motion pictures.
Period Knitting -- Socks, Sleeping Hats, Balaclavas
Atlantic Guard Soldiers' Aid Society
Chuck A Luck
07-25-2008, 09:04 AM
I don't know, as I've never seen the Gettysburg one before, except partially in pictures. As a kid -- when my oldest sister went to Agnes-Scott college in Atlanta -- I got the pleasure of visiting the Atlanta cyclorama, and it made a long-lasting impression. Got me totally into the CW era (or maybe I was partially in it before; don't remember now). But I remember trying to recreate bits & pieces of it with the Marx Centennial CW set in the backyard, complete with split rail fences out of branches, redoubts, etc.; it was also fun trying to recreate the many battle scenes depicted in that American Heritage (?) book.
Stone Mountain was darn impressive, too. Now, being a Marylander, I'm much closer to the newly-refurbished in Gettysburg, and am very much looking forward to my first chance at viewing it. It sounds like I'll not be too disappointed.
07-25-2008, 10:37 AM
Since I have never seen the Gettysburg cyclorama in person, I would have to go with Atlanta... Ross is right about it being hard to imagine the battle sans all the urban sprawl. One of the neatest things I have ever done was when we did a LH at the Atlanta Cyclorama, at had the chance to walk on the floor of the diorama. That was pretty cool. One year at the Battle of Atlanta, they had "set dressings" on the battle field, the RR tracks, wagons and Truop-Hurt house, and that was kinda neat.
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