The History Of Grand Tour

The Grand Tour was the traditional trip of Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class European young men of means. The custom flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transit in the 1840s, and was associated with a standard itinerary.

The most common itinerary of the Grand Tour shifted across generations in the cities it embraced, but the British tourist usually began in Dover, England and crossed the English Channelto Ostend, in the Spanish Netherlands/Belgium, or to Calais or Le Havre in France.

Most Grand Tourists, stayed for brief periods and set out with less scholarly intentions than art historians, accompanied by a teacher or guardian, and expected to return home with souvenirs of their travels as well as an understanding of art and architecture formed by exposure to great masterpieces.

The Grand Tour gave concrete form to Northern Europeans’ ideas about the Greco-Roman world and helped fosterNeoclassical ideals. The most ambitious tourists visited excavations at such sites as Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Tivoli, and purchased antiquities to decorate their homes.

Next week I will touch on the art of historical reproduction and the reproductions of today.


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