A rare etching with aquatint and original colour showcases the fortress Hohentwiel in Baden-Württemberg, in Germany, close to the Lake Constance, on the Swiss border, as it looked before the demolition by the Napoleonic army in 1801. The anonymous artist used unusual perspectives to represent the different characteristics of the fortress and a hemiorama, a landscape situated 180 degrees around the central object.
The etching was made in the beginning of the 19thcentury, when the fortress was already in ruin, but is today a valuable document of its pre 1801 characteristics. The connection between present and a past is a lonely veteran in the centre in the front, who is the source of the memory of the fortress’s previous glory, with marching soldiers in the courtyard.
Because of its unusual position the fortification system of Hohentwiel was well documented on the older drawings and prints.
was a name for a popular method of presentation of physical space in paintings and prints, mostly in the 19th century. The name is composed from Greek words hemi– (ἡμι-, “half”) and horama (ὅραμα, a visible object or a view), and means the presentation of the space of 180 degrees from a viewing point, which would normally be visible to an individual without turning around.
The name hemiorama came as a response to panorama (coming from the Greek word pan, meaning all, and previously mentioned horama), a perspective showcasing all the physical space embraced in the 360 degrees with a viewing point as a centre.
The word panorama was invented in 1792 by an English portrait painter Robert Barker to describe his paintings of Edinburgh, Scotland shown on a cylindrical surface. In the next years the panoramas became one of the favourite means to showcase views of the cites, landscapes and mountains from a fixed or moving point, such as boats and later trains.
The idea of panorama was to represent all the physical space and the artists would to do so often use distortions and optical illusions.
Hemiorama was a name contemporary to panorama, which indicated the image represented only half of the real space – only the one visible to individual from a certain point. The hemioramic representations could mean everything from long views with only few distortions, to more compact views, like this one, when the artist had to use his imagination to represent as many characteristics of the objects on a limited space.
By the late 19th century the word hemiorama went out of fashion and was replaced by the word panorama, which gained a broader meaning.
References: Roland KESSINGER – Klaus Michael PETER (Ed.), Hohentwiel Buch, 2002, p. 164.