2005 Clarence Ward Exhibition and Birthday Party

"Books for the Grand Tour: Architecture, Archaeology and the Dilettante."

The Grand Tour

Beginning in the very late 17th C. those who went on the Grand Tour, leaving from Great Britain, France and Germany, were the young, usually aristocratic, classically educated and wealthy, and occasionally recent graduates of university. Scholars would usually accompany them as tutors, in order to guide them through a profitable and educational tour in addition to keeping a watchful eye on the young dilettante's conduct. The time spent would vary from months to years. Some travelers would journey to Rome and back, others, ambitious either for adventure or learning could extend their path all over the eastern Mediterranean, including Greece, Egypt and then Near East. Though the itinerary in Italy would vary amongst the major urban centers, Rome was always a primary destination. The long trek would usually take travelers through the Alps, while the weather was good, some chose to set sail from the southern coast of France, though all finally arrived in Italy.

While the original intentions of the Grand Tour were the education of classical, literary and aesthetic sensibilities that an informed trip through the rich heritage of Italy would entail; in the later half of the 18th C. the Tour developed into a fashion and more complicated phenomenon. It was possible now for those on the Tour to have little or no interest in classical antiquity and seek instead a sojourn from responsibility and decorum. Eventually women too would set out for their Grand Tour. Common to all travelers was the collecting of art and antiquities, in time, this also becoming a focus of the traveler's experience.

Robert Adam left his studies at University of Edinburgh to undertake his own Grand Tour in this manner. The artistic connections and the deep impressions left by his firsthand experience of classical architectural and artistic aesthetics exemplify the impact of the Tour. The professional and artistic relationships he was to make with Italian artists, notably Piranesi, also testify to the personal interactions and connections that could be made by tourists with other educated and informed communities by undertaking the journey.