Phillippe Jacques de Loutherbourg was a landscape painter and an internationally renowned stage designer. In 1781 he invented the Eidophusikon, a mechanical panorama that simulated dramatic scenes such as shipwrecks and thunder storms. The Eidophusikon combined minutely detailed, three dimensional sets with a range of optical tricks and sound effects. The result might be seen as an early form of cinema, transporting audiences into exotic and breathtaking environments. The fact that shipwrecks were being recreated in this way gives an impression of the kind of sensationalism and wonder excited by these kinds of catastrophes.
This description of the Eidophusikon is taken from 'Wine and Walnuts', by Ephraim Hardcastle. The book consists of a series of anecdotal sketches, illustrating London life in the 18th century.