9. The Grand Tour

In the 18th and 19th Centuries a visit to Italy was considered by the educated classes of Europe, in particular the British, an essential part of the education of young gentlemen and gentlewomen. The term "Grand Tour" appears for the first time in the French translation of "Voyage or a Compleat Journey through Italy" by Richard Lassels published in London in 1670 as a guide for scholars, artists and art collectors visiting Italy. The journey, the highlights of which were the cities of Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples, represented a sort of academy of classical Mediterranean culture for the erudite classes of Europe.
To visit the majestic ruins of Imperial Rome and to view the precious art collections which decorated the papal nobility’s palaces represented a compulsory part of these cultured tourists' sojourn abroad. Collecting and trading in art works centred mainly on marble and bronze antiquities, but also paintings representing classical subjects then in vogue. "Capricci", veritable pictorial anthologies of ancient monuments, and "views" of idealised landscapes were particularly successful in Rome.



Galleria di Roma Antica

Paolo Pannini (1691-1765): detail of "Gallery of Ancient Rome" (Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart), depicting statues of antiquity and paintings illustrating the best known monuments. Note the figures observing the painter working on a reproduction of the fresco "The Aldobrandini Wedding", the original of which was housed in the Villa Aldobrandini in the 17th Century.



Paesaggio Romantico

Gaspard Dughet (1615-1675): Idealized Mediterranean Landscape (private collection). Numerous paintings by Dughet are in the Colonna and Doria-Pamphilj Galleries in Rome.



Yet even in the first years of this century Rome was the destination of scholars and art lovers. In 1900, Louis Barsari published the the guidebook "Le Forum Romain selon les dernières fouilles" which he dedicated to the famous archaeologist Giacomo Boni with these words:

Dedica a Boni

The unknown traveller, owner of the guidebook, left a trace of his own feelings by noting on the back of the cover the famous lines by Lord Byron: "When stands the Coliseum / Rome shall stand / When falls the Coliseum / Rome shall fall / And when Rome falls / The world fall" (based on the Venerable Bede's maxim: "As long as the Colyseus shall stand, Rome too shall stand; when the Colyseus falls, Rome too shall fall; when Rome falls, the world shall fall as well.")

Byron's poem


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