Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bourbaki Panorama - Luzern, Switzerland

Nancy and I returned late Sunday night from a ten day holiday in Switzerland.  Riding the rails and plying the waters across the beautiful Swiss countryside was a pleasure.  Even with a late April/early May travel itinerary, the Swiss weather, on balance, was quite cooperative.  On days when good weather mattered, it was.  One stop on our two day visit to Luzern was the Bourbaki Panorama in downtown Luzern.
Illustrating an episode of history from the Franco-Prussian War, the Bourbaki Panorama artist, Edouard Castres, painted a large circular panorama covering 1,100 square meters. Completed in 1881, the panorama was initially designated the Panorama des Verrieres and displayed in Geneva.  In 1889, the panorama was moved to Luzern and a building was built specifically to house the work.
The Bourbaki Panorama depicts the situation at the Swiss border post of Les Verrieres in February 1871.  On that date, the French Army of the East under General Bourbaki chose to cross the Swiss border and subject itself to internment in Switzerland over capitulation to the Prussians who were hounding its every move.
After negotiations, on 1 February 1871 over 87,000 Frenchmen crossed the border, laid down their arms, and were shipped off to cities throughout Switzerland until their release on 14 March 1871.  The French government agreed to reimburse Switzerland 12 million francs for the care of these soldiers during this internment.
The scenes of the panorama show the point when the French cross the border and lay down their arms to be marched off to internment camps under the watchful eye of the Swiss.
Augmenting the circular painting are three dimensional displays of camp scenes using full scale wax figures and period artifacts.  The effect of 360 degree circular painting combined with 3D displays lends a great deal of depth to the experience and draws the viewer into the painting.  An observer experiences a sense of being a part of the spectacle.  The effect is a bit eerie but marvelous nonetheless.
Castres was a logical choice for this commission since he was a volunteer stretcher-bearer at Les Verrieres.  Really, a stunning piece of work.

If in Luzern, I recommend a stop at the panorama.  For more details on Bourbaki, Castres, and the panorama, see, The Arrival of Bourbaki's Army at Les Verrières on the International Committee of the Red Cross website.  

31 comments:

  1. Excellent exhibition. Thank You for a photos:)

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    1. Michal, you are welcome! Glad you enjoyed the photos.

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  2. That's amazing, I didn't even know it existed. Quite an odd subject for a panorama too - they usually recall battles as opposed to surrenders.

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    1. An odd subject for a painting but it highlights the humanitarian nature of the Swiss and the Red Cross. Quite a moving spectacle.

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  3. Thanks for posting, looks wonderful and realistic...

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    1. Phil, it was very realistic. Seeing the winterscape made me feel a bit chilled.

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  4. Oh man that brings back memories Jonathan. I have almost the exact set of photos that I took waaaaaay back in 1988. I just wish the camera I had then was as good as those of today...imagine taking a panorama shot of the panorama.

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    1. Mark, I considered a panorama shot but with other people around, it would have been complicated. That, and I can only get my camera to shoot a successful panorama about 50% of the time.

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    2. I was fortunate when I was there to be th only person in the place.

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    3. My visit to the panorama was lightly attended too. Maybe four people total.

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  5. Switzerland is indeed lovely! I haven't had the opportunity to see the diorama, but it does look impressive!

    Christopher

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    1. A beautiful (and small!) country, for sure, Christopher. My wife mentioned thoughts of emigrating to Switzerland. I think she was only partially joking...

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  6. Welcome back. I had never heard of this cyclorama. A real find. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Ed! Glad you enjoyed my brief introduction to the panorama.

      Now, time to dust off the painting desk and get my eyes to focus on small scale work.

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  7. That's really neat. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. What a neat display! Almost like standing in the spot, eh?

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    1. Scott, the combination of full scale replicas in the foreground paired with the circular painting in the background plays tricks on the eyes and mind. It really lent the impression of standing in front of the troops as they marched in and laid down their arms. Fascinating!

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  9. I love those sort of all round paintings....

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  10. My only trip to Europe thus far was way back when I was barely 19 years old (May 1978) and toured Switzerland, France, Germany, and Austria with the University of Connecticut marching band. Luzern was one of my favorite stops there - I well recall the covered bridges and the Glacier Park, as well as the Lion monument, and the small military museum there. The panorama was previously unknown to me, however. My wife has Swiss freinds... we shall have to visit some day. She would love Switzerland, too, and May is a good tome to visit, with snow still on the alpine peaks!

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    1. Peter! It has been far too long since your last European visit!

      Luzern was a favorite of ours too. Actually we enjoyed all of our "base camps" during our ten day trip.

      Our hotel in Luzern was only steps from Kapellbrucke. Step out the hotel door and into the street, turn right, and it was half a block away. Wonderful view!

      We visited that little Depot Historical museum went to the top of Mt. Rigi. I recommend it.

      I will provide a more detailed accounting of our time in Luzern later. As for the Panorama, it is only a block or two from the Lion monument.

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  11. Interesting and informative post, looks really good, glad you had a good time in Switzerland.
    Best Iain

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    1. Switzerland is a beautiful country; some of it you will see in future posts.

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  12. Another similarly interesting panorama can be found from Poland. The Racławice Panorama of Battle of Racławice, from the Kościuszko Uprising. Located in Wrocław, and fine piece of art as well.

    Some problem with comments if trying to use wordpress... anyway, landandnavy.wordpress.com

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    1. Thank you for the information on the panorama in Wroclaw. If I visit Poland, I will add this stop to my itinerary.

      As for problems posting from Wordpress, can you provide more details? Your comment made it through but I see you used a Blogger ID. Your persistence in commenting is appreciated!

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  13. Great post Jonathan, what a great piece of art!

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  14. Jonathan, about the comment issues - if I use my wordpress profile, I get into a loop that returns the comment with "unknown" profile and it just repeats over and over again unless I change the profile to anonymous. Unfortunately the trouble is quite local, and haven't seen similar behavior elsewhere.

    Anonymous works of course (unknown Google).

    Tichy@landandnavy

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    1. Tichy, I appreciate your persistence in making it through the commenting difficulty. Blogger uses OpenID to authenticate a user. Does your WordPress have the OpenID add in? Regardless, as long as Anonymous works for you, your comments are always appreciated.

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