Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Three Mile Mississippi


John Banvard (November 15, 1815 – May 16, 1891) was a U.S. panorama and portrait painter known for his panoramic views of the Mississippi River Valley.

John Banvard was born in New York and was educated in high school. When his father went bankrupt, he began to travel around the United States, and supported himself with paintings he exhibited.

1840 he began to paint large panoramas of the whole Mississippi River valley. He traveled through the area in a boat, made preliminary drawings and supported himself with paintings and hunting. He combined the preliminary sketches and transferred them to a canvas in a building erected for this purpose in Louisville, Kentucky. His largest panorama began as 12 feet (3,6 m) high and 1300 feet (369 m) long and was eventually expanded to about half a mile (about 800 meters) although it was advertised as a "three-mile canvas". It toured around the nation, and was eventually cut up in to hundreds of pieces, none of which still exist today.

In 1846 he began to travel with this panorama in Europe, Asia and Africa and even gave Queen Victoria a private viewing. During his travels he also painted panoramas in Palestine and the Nile River Valley.

On his return his invested part of the fortune he had made in 60 acres overlooking Cold Spring Harbor on the North Shore of Long Island, where in 1852-55, in competition with P. T. Barnum's palace "Iranistan" in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he proceeded to design and have built a baronial residence from its eastern shore, which, it was given out, was intended to resemble Windsor Castle; he named the place Glenada, the glen of his daughter Ada, but the locals called it "Banvard's Folly". After his death it became a fashionable resort hotel, The Glenada.

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