THE LENGTH of the Panoramas
To arrive at any precise knowledge of the length of these panoramas is impossible. The little available data are too much colored by the press-agent qualities of the producers for us to accept them easily. For the first three paintings, at least, the claims are simply in the tradition of tall tales. A brief consideration of these statements will be sufficient.
Banvard declared that his panorama was three miles long (it is, perhaps, significant that later he merely said it was "extensively known as the three-mile painting"); yet the Bristol Gazette in a review, which Banvard used as a blurb, said that one and one-half hours were necessary for the exhibition of the picture. At this rate of two miles an hour, 176 feet of canvas passed before the eyes of the spectator every minute. Such a speed cannot easily be reconciled with the time necessary for the close examination of scenery of which the reports all speak, nor do they allow for any kind of detailed remarks by the commentator. How, for instance, could Banvard have told his favorite story of the attack by the Murrell gang while the picture passed at the rate of three feet per second?