Cyclorama of Jerusalem at Ste Anne de Beaupre.  Province of Quebec. Canada.
This wonderful work of art by Munich painter, Bruno Piglhein was partially destroyed in December 1957. Professor Christo Stefanoff was chosen to reconstruct it. He repainted one area 125 feet by 45 feet, and restored another 240 feet by 45 feet.

             By Christine Seifert

A Munich painter around year 1878, Bruno
Piglhein, decided that, something should be done about
public ignorance of daily life in Biblical times. Though
many religious paintings existed, they rarely gave a
historical idea of customs, dress or the countryside.

The painter envisaged an unbroken panorama which
would convey the sense of reality to an episode-not
just another religious painting. but a canvas that
would bring alive a period in time.

What more suitable episode than the Crucifixion ?
So grew the idea of a panorama of the events happening
throughout the city of Jerusalem and the surrounding
countryside on that fateful day.

After studying everything available from that
period, the German artist realized that he would have
to go to Jerusalem. He spent a full year there taking
photographs and studying before he was satisfied
with his data.

Returning to Munich, he collected several assistants.
Together they worked for four full years on what is
now the celebrated "Cyclorama" of Ste. Anne de Beaupré, Quebec.
The finished canvas was 360 feet long and 45 feet high.

We claim 3-D as a modern invention but the Cyclorama,
painted in 1882, gives such an illusion of depth
that viewers feel they are among the crowd marching
with Roman soldiers, or put out their hands to touch
an exquisitely colored robe. Not only the great scene
of the death of Christ, but the crowded market place,
the vignettes of everyday life in the corners of the
city, and rural scenes are all depicted with scrupulous
attention to detail.

The Cyclorama was put on exhibition in the great
capitals of Europe before being housed in Montreal.
Then in 1895, it was set up on permanent exhibition at
Beaupré, whose shrine was already well known.


In December 1957, a partial collapse of the roof
destroyed part of the immense work. Fortunately, as
the exhibition is closed from November to April, no
one was injured. But Georges Blouin, the owner, was
faced with the task of finding an artist who could
restore and revive the old painting-and, much more
difficult, an artist of the necessary caliber to recreate
and repaint the portion which had been destroyed.

While there are many gifted artists in Canada, they
are not specialists in the field of panoramic art. So
Blouin was almost in despair by the time he met the
Bulgarian immigrant, Christo Stefanoff, in March
1958. It turned out to be a significant meeting: a
contract was signed and the artist started working on
the canvas in April.

Stefanoff had already a European reputation as an
artist when he first visited America in 1931. He has
painted kings as well as peasants, historical and
political personalities, with a preference for historical
and dramatic subjects.

After four years he returned to Europe to marry.
After the war Stefanoffs tried persistently to come to
Canada. Finally, in 1952, their visas were issued and
they settled in Val David, a little town in Quebec's
Laurentian mountains.

One day some visiting Montreal friends happened to
mention the accident to the Cyclorama at Ste. Anne
de Beaupré. They told Stefanoff of Georges Blouin's
efforts to find an artist to restore the existing canvas
and recreate the destroyed section. With this chance
piece of information Stefanoff went to see Blouin and
returned home with a contract under his arm.

A tremendous amount of preparation was required
before the artist could start work, Special canvas had
to be imported from France; several hundred gallons
of Cilux enamel were ordered; he and Mrs. Stefanoff
washed and varnished all the canvas to be restored.
When the work was completed last September, the artist
had repainted one area 125 feet by 45 feet, and restored
another 240 feet by 45 feet, using C-I-L Colors-in-Oil.
The entire painting will have to be varnished again after two years.

Before the accident, the base of the canvas rested on
the floor. Stefanoff has extended the canvas into the
foreground and painted in the necessary appropriate
scenery so there is no break in the continuity. This
prodigious task was accomplished by working an
average of 15 hours a day-mostly at night, as the
exhibition remained open to the public during the day...

Visitors to the exhibit climb a flight of steps and
enter the room containing the Cyclorama, which is an
unbroken wall surface of canvas, They stand on a
central platform, raised 12 feet off the ground and
surrounded by a guard rail. Then they may walk
around the 360 feet of panorama which is indirectly
lit. Otherwise the room is dark.

The impression of depth is so wonderfully trans-
mitted that many visitors feel there are chariots and
statues of soldiers in the foreground. Some say
seriously that the painting is oniy 12 feet from the
rail-it is actually 35 feet away. Others claim the
figures must be in bas-relief as they stand out with
such clarity.

Visitors exclaim in amazement at the extraordinary
detail, which may be examined with binoculars.
Indeed, so skillfully has the artist done his work that
most of them cannot tell the dividing lines between
the "old masters" and Christo Stefanoff's work in
modern enamel.

Modern colors used to restore canvas blend with the "old
masters" under the skillful hands of artist Christo Stefanoff.

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The following letter (in french) was addressed to the widow of Prof. Christo Stefanoff, Irena Pludowska Stefanoff.

The 3rd generation of Blouin family, the owners of Cyclorama, are expressing gratitude for what Prof. Christo Stefenoff has accomplished, they say that they would publish shortly for everyone to see that Prof. Christo Stefanoff is the artist who restored the Cyclorama. Unfortunetly that publication never happened.