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Dioramas

Coyote, L.A. Natural History Museum

Coyote, L.A. Natural History Museum

The Coyote group at the American Museum of Natural History in New York has a background painting by James Perry Wilson, and is absolutely breathtaking – especially the difference in the transparencies and surface of the still pond int he foreground and the river behind – See: http://natchard.com/2012/02/09/dioramas-2/ The Coyote diorama at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles is pretty carefully made. Like many of the L.A. dioramas the background appears much more scenographic than the ones in New York. I could only find a single photograph – I will have a search and see if I also took a stereo pair and will post it later if it exists.

White Rhino Diorama at the American Museum of Natural History

White Rhino Diorama at the American Museum of Natural History

I have posted a photograph of the White Rhinoceros group at the American Museum of Natural History before (in stereo, if I remember correctly). The 1937 diorama has a fine background painting by James Perry Wilson. It is located in a corner of the mezzanine level of the  Akeley Hall of African of Mammals in a corner with a low ceiling (which wilson tries to disguise with heavy rain clouds). To fit the  two large White Rhinos in the tight space without them standing too close to the observer, one is located very close to the painted background. To help mitigate against a shadow on the background (which would collapse the illusion of depth) apparently the hidden side of the Rhino is painted white. This possibility of negating one’s shadow has been teasing me recently and will be part of the new instrument I am working on.

Skunk Diorama at the American Museum of Natural History, New York

Skunk Diorama at the American Museum of Natural History, New York

A small diorama nestled between the main views of North American Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Background painting by James Perry Wilson.

 

Buffalo Diorama

Buffalo Diorama

Buffalo Diorama

Buffalo Diorama

Buffalo Diorama

Buffalo Diorama

The Buffalo group at the American Museum of Natural History is not my favourite J.P. Wilson Diorama but there is a treat if you look inside the return on the far right hand side (top image) where a buffalo painted on the background crosses between the far right hand edge of the background and the painted section of the return to the viewing window. The  part of the animal on the background is painted normally but on the return it is painted anamorphically. Pictures from inside the diorama reveal a pot bellied buffalo, at least on its left hand side, to compensate for the viewing angle. The furthest away part of the buffalo is painted on the surface closest to the observer.

By the way, note that the horizon is not adjusted anamorphically on the return – perhaps because the viewing window is so wide that it is hard to know where to imagine the observer’s eye?.

 

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