The grand panorama of a whaling voyage ‘round the world
"The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World" was painted in 1848 by Benjamin Russell (1804-1885) and Caleb Purrington (1812-1876). In December 1848, the Panorama debuted in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. In 1849, it was exhibited, with great fanfare, at Amory Hall in Boston for three months. Between 1849 and 1851, it toured the East and Midwest as a traveling exhibition, visiting Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, Baltimore, and New York City. The panorama travelled again in the mid-1850s and was exhibited around Southeastern Massachusetts through the 1870s. It was donated to the New Bedford Whaling Museum in 1918 by Benjamin Cummings. / The panorama recreated the experience of a whaling voyage for popular audiences, detailing the remarkable sights that whalemen were privileged to see. In the Cincinnati and Boston reviews of Russell’s panorama exhibition, it was said that a great number of old whaling captains praised its accuracy and subsequently advised that “landsharks” could glean from it a very good idea of a sea voyage, without the sickness.” / "The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World" is one of only a few surviving American moving panoramas, a popular art and entertainment form that reached its peak in the mid-19th century. In many ways, panoramas were predecessors to the massive popularity of World’s Fairs in the latter half of the century, most notably those of Paris, London, Chicago, and New York. Much like the extraordinary adventure writings of authors like Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, panoramas played to the spectacle of the exotic and the unknown to eager audiences.