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A 3 mile painting
Posted by Rev. Jeff Dixon, Senior Equipping Minister at Covenant Community Church on Jun 1, 2000, 22:03

Historians still have no clue what happened. During the mid-1800ís, an artist named John Banvard decided to paint a landscape of the Mississippi River. He didnít just want to paint any picture, he wanted to paint everything he saw on his voyage of 1,200 miles along the river. He spent a year rowing, camping, and drawing sketch after sketch of the Mississippi.
After his voyage, he loaded up all his sketches and built a studio in Kentucky large enough to house the canvas he would put his creation on. The canvas was huge and to get it to work properly he wound the canvas around large spools. It was then that Banvard was ready to go to work. It took him 5 years to complete his painting which included scenes of riverboats, forts, an Indian settlement or two, and even a shipwreck.
Completed in 1846, the painting was placed on exhibition and toured America and Great Britain. People would gather and watch as Banvard would unroll his canvas. This was a 2 hour process. The artwork was titled Panorama of the Mississippi. Banvard considered it to be a work in progress. He would continually add a few things here and there. In 1862, for example, the painter added another section depicting the Civil War.
Through the years, the wear and tear of traveling and unrolling the artwork began to damage the painting. The landscape began to deteriorate and it seemed that no amount of work could restore it and keep it looking good. Eventually portions of the painting were cut to make backdrop scenery for theatres. Banvard passed away in 1891, but no one is really sure what happened to the rest of his painting after his death. It was reported that over 3 miles of the original canvas remained uncut at the time of his death. Oh, by the way, you did read that right, I wrote 3 miles of canvas was still intact. Not one picture remains to show Banvardís contribution to American art.
Those who reviewed and wrote of his work, marveled at how real and lifelike his painting was. I was just wondering how do you lose a painting 3 miles long ? As great a spectacle as this must have been it was only a copy of the real thing. We have the good fortune of seeing the real thing growing and changing around us everyday. Donít you think that a tree that buds is more fascinating than one that never changes? And no matter how grand in scope the artwork was, it could not compare to being able to walk through Godís creation each and everyday. . .could it ?!?
In the Word we read, ďWhen I look up into the night skies and see the work of your fingers-the moon and the stars you have made-I cannot understand how you can bother with mere puny man, to pay attention to him (Psalm 8:3-4). Not only does the Father care about us, but we are the crowning jewel of His creation. I donít know if you think about that very often, but it sure is something we can praise Him about. What an amazing honor to be the central and most loved subject in Godís artistic panorama! And trust me when I tell you this, because it is the truth, God doesnít ever lose or misplace us either! Yet another thing to praise Him for!





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