The last stop on our morning tour was the Sevastopol Panorama. I’ve blogged before about panoramic paintings, having been introduced to this marvellous art form by Marieke when we were in The Hague last year. On hearing we were to visit this particular one, we kept our fingers crossed that it wouldn’t disappoint.
We were delighted to find it was an absolute stunner, not only in the actual artwork but in the component features which make visiting a panorama special. There was the long corridor, the dark spiral staircase leading to the observation platform, the canopy over the overhead window and the central lookout from where the full 360 scene could be viewed.
The scene itself was not a pretty one, being a day in the Crimean War when Sevastopol came under seige. But the subject matter aside, the blend between the canvas and the foreground was almost invisible, so cleverly had the visual effect been managed.
See how, in the photo above, there are “real” sacks and baskets in the foreground, blending with the painted ones immediately behind the soldiers?
It was pointed out to us that those depicted are real people, some of whom are identifiable. At this particular viewpoint, our guide was careful to state clearly that Florence Nightingale was not the only nurse on the battlefield! She named this particular one – sorry, can’t remember the name, though.
Our guide Tatyana also named this water carrier, another famous female figure in Ukrainian history. These small vignettes brought the whole thing to life and we could have stood for hours peering into the details.
The place was overwhelmed with visitors, each group allotted a place on a tightly controlled schedule. Tatyana had told us earlier that our time was 11.40am and when it looked like we might be stuck in traffic, she’d got a bit fidgety. Clearly there was no room for manoeuvre – another group was hot on our heels and we were close on the tail of the bunch in front of us.
Suffice to say that in spite of the horrendous subject matter, we thought the whole thing terrific and a masterpiece of its kind.
We were told that this is not the original canvas, sadly, but a copy of the one left in pieces following the German seige of Sevastopol in the 1940s. The Soviet soldiers had tried to rescue the original from a fire, but all that remains are a few fragments. In spite of this, the current panorama remains a highlight of a visit to the city – deservedly so in our opinion.