The world’s largest photograph of the Gornergrat Panorama

Story 119

In 1904, the world’s largest photograph depicted the Gornergrat Panorama. The Wehrli brothers from Kilchberg took the largest landscape photograph to make an impression at the World Exhibition.  

The world’s largest photograph 

In the 1890s, the Wehrli brothers founded a photo shop in Kilchberg near Zurich. In 1904 – 119 years ago – they produced what was then the world’s largest landscape photograph for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.  

The project was enthusiastically covered by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) in April 1904:

The Börsensaal (Zurich) is exhibiting a photographic image of the panorama from the summit of the Gornergrat near Zermatt from Thursday to Saturday, which, in addition to its technical and artistic sophistication, is also attracting attention due to its size. Recently, the dailies have been reporting that the largest photograph in the world, 12 metres long and 1.50 metres wide, has been completed in Berlin. It is far surpassed by this exhibit, which is 20.5 metres long and 2.20 metres wide.

Tremendous work to manufacture 

The NZZ continued: “The whole picture took a huge amount of work to produce. Photographs were taken for almost a whole day in the immediate vicinity of the Gornergrat Railway, around 80 metres from the Hotel Gornergrat, and the eight original plates measuring 18/24 (note: cm) were then developed using very light-sensitive silver bromide paper.” 

Deserved reward at the 1904 St Louis World Exhibition 

The author of the NZZ continued: “The picture itself has a tremendous effect on the viewer and will be worthy of showing visitors to the World Exhibition in St. Louis the beauties of our Alps better than virtually any other reproduction.” 

After the conclusion of the World Exhibition in October of the same year, the NZZ reported that the Gebrüder Wehrli and the Swiss company Dr I.H. Smith, who had produced the silver bromide paper and the dry plates used, had been awarded the gold medal.  

The Gornergrat Railway used the photograph, among other things, for its advertising at the Simplon Exhibition in Milan in 1906.

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