Many years ago on my first trip to the Tyrolean capital of Innsbruck, I discovered a unique curiosity painted in 1896, by Professor Michael Zeno Diemer (1867-1939). Apparently it only took about 3-6 months for him to create. It’s a panoramic oil on canvas, covering 1,000 square meters on the inside of a cylindrical platform, designed to provide the viewer standing in the middle of the cylinder with a 360° view of the painting.
This type of work is known as a cyclorama and this particular one, Riesenrundgemalde, is one of only 30 such maintained panorama paintings from the 19th century left worldwide. It depicts the War of Independence of the Tyrolese and features The Battle of Bergisel of August 13, 1809. During this battle, under the leadership of Andreas Hofer, the Tirolean farmers fought three heroic battles to defend their homelands against the superior forces of the French troops of Napoleon and his allies the Sachsen and the Bavarians. The panorama is also an interesting portrayal of Innsbruck. Amongst the rotund depiction it includes:
- A priest administering the last rites to a dying fighter;
- views of “old Innsbruck” and the town area of Wilten
- Saxon Prisoners contained within small houses; and
- the brave leader Thalguter from Meran, leading his south-Tyrolese to the battle-line.
Hence, the drama of this cyclorama… “Keeps on going right ’round, baby, right ’round, ’round, baby right ’round, ’round, ’round, ’round. (To the tune of Dead or Alive’s – You Spin Me Around).
“Is It Art?”