Grand Tour

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**History and Purpose:**
– Rome had been a pilgrimage destination for centuries, especially during Jubilee.
– The term ‘Grand Tour’ was first used by Richard Lassels in 1670.
– Edward Gibbon highlighted the educational value of foreign travel.
– The Grand Tour was seen as a way to complete the education of a gentleman.
– Popular guides like Jonathan Richardson’s book in 1722 helped popularize the Grand Tour.
– The Grand Tour exposed individuals to classical antiquity and Renaissance culture.
– It provided access to specific works of art and unique cultural experiences.
– Grand Tourists acquired knowledge and cultural artifacts not available at home.
– It was considered a rite of passage for gentlemen and artists to enhance their skills.
– The Grand Tour was a symbol of sophistication and worldly knowledge.

**Participants and Continuation:**
– Initially popular among British nobility and wealthy Europeans.
– Wealthy young men from other Northern European nations also undertook the tour.
– Central European aristocracy started embracing the Grand Tour by the mid-18th century.
– American nouveau riche during the Gilded Age adopted the Grand Tour.
– The tour was also undertaken by Americans seeking exposure to European sophistication.
– The Grand Tour continued after steam-powered transportation was introduced.
– It became cheaper, safer, and open to more individuals.
– Educated young men and later women undertook the Grand Tour.
– Germany and Switzerland were added to the tour circuit.
– Swedish aristocrats also participated in the Grand Tour, emulating their British counterparts.

**Criticism and Stereotypes:**
– Critics believed the Grand Tour lacked adventure and was predictable.
– It reinforced stereotypes about national characteristics.
– The Grand Tour was viewed with suspicion in England for potentially corrupting gentlemen.
– The tour was satirized in the 1760s and 1770s as ostentatious and unnecessary.
– Some critics saw the Grand Tour as a narrow-minded experience.
– Grand Tour perpetuated stereotypes and contrasts between northern and southern Europe.
– Italy was often depicted as picturesque but also degraded as backward.
– Famous verses by Lamartine portrayed Italy as a land of the past.
– Antiquaries in Rome sold marbles to interested tourists, influencing prices.
– British tourists were not the only ones on the Grand Tour; it was popular among young men from various European countries.

**Legacy and Expansion:**
– The Grand Tour influenced the education and cultural exposure of individuals.
– It contributed to the development of artists and their understanding of techniques.
– The artifacts and knowledge acquired during the tour added prestige to travelers.
– The Grand Tourists brought back cultural artifacts and knowledge to display at home.
– Artists like Carlo Maratti and Canaletto thrived due to the Grand Tour market.
– The typical Grand Tour itinerary included visits to Turin, Florence, Venice, and Rome in Italy.
– Travelers studied ancient ruins, paintings, and architecture in Rome.
– Some ventured to Naples, Herculaneum, Pompeii, and Mount Vesuvius.
– More adventurous tourists explored Sicily, Malta, and Greece.
– The return journey often included visits to German-speaking parts of Europe, Holland, and Flanders before returning to England.

**Published Accounts and Literature:**
– Grand Tour published accounts offered detailed and polished perspectives.
– Authors like Joseph Addison, William Beckford, and Tobias Smollett wrote about their experiences.
– Literary artifice was detected in some accounts by Jeremy Black.
– Italy was often portrayed as a sink of iniquity, but travelers recorded their experiences and encounters.
– Sir James Hall’s diary mentioned encountering attractive Venetian women during the tour.
– James Boswell documented encounters with Italian elite during the Grand Tour.
– Mark Twain’s ‘Innocents Abroad’ satirized the Grand Tour in 1867.
– Lord Byron’s letters from the early 19th century describe his experiences during the Grand Tour.
– Sir Francis Ronalds’ journals from his tour to Europe and the Near East have been published.
– Sisters Mary and Ida Saxton’s letters offer insight into the Grand Tour tradition from an American perspective.

Grand Tour (Wikipedia)

The Grand Tour was the principally 17th- to early 19th-century custom of a traditional trip through Europe, with Italy as a key destination, undertaken by upper-class young European men of sufficient means and rank (typically accompanied by a tutor or family member) when they had come of age (about 21 years old).

The interior of the Pantheon in the 18th century, painted by Giovanni Paolo Panini.

The custom—which flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transport in the 1840s and was associated with a standard itinerary—served as an educational rite of passage. Though it was primarily associated with the British nobility and wealthy landed gentry, similar trips were made by wealthy young men of other Protestant Northern European nations, and, from the second half of the 18th century, by some South and North Americans.

By the mid-18th century, the Grand Tour had become a regular feature of aristocratic education in Central Europe as well, although it was restricted to the higher nobility. The tradition declined in Europe as enthusiasm for classical culture waned, and with the advent of accessible rail and steamship travel—an era in which Thomas Cook made the "Cook's Tour" of early mass tourism a byword starting in the 1870s.

However, with the rise of industrialization in the United States in the 19th century, American Gilded Age nouveau riche adopted the Grand Tour for both sexes and among those of more advanced years as a means of gaining both exposure and association with the sophistication of Europe. Even those of lesser means sought to mimic the pilgrimage, as satirized in Mark Twain's enormously popular Innocents Abroad in 1869.

The primary value of the Grand Tour lay in its exposure to the cultural legacy of classical antiquity and the Renaissance, and to the aristocratic and fashionably polite society of the European continent. It also provided the only opportunity to view specific works of art, and possibly the only chance to hear certain music.

A Grand Tour could last anywhere from several months to several years. It was commonly undertaken in the company of a cicerone, a knowledgeable guide or tutor.

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