Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Overview of Art on the Grand Tour



What was the Grand Tour? 

Johann Zoffany (1733-1810), The Tribuna degli Uffizi, 1772-1778/9, oil on canvas, 123. 5 x 155 cm (48 5/8 x 61 inches), Royal Collection


 Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein (1751-1829), Goethe in the Compagna, 1786, Oil on canvas, 164 x 206 cm, Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt.


François Gérard, Corinne at Cape Miseno, 1819, Oil on canvas, 266 x 277 cm, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon.
“During the 17th and 18th centuries, the young well-to-do from elsewhere had to make the Grand Tour, of which the peak experience was to enjoy, under a tutor’s informed guidance, the art and easy life of Rome and Florence, possibly of Naples and Venice...As for those aspiring to be artists, it was imperative that they go and “finish” themselves at the source, Italy. France and the United States still maintain for them under the name Academy residencies in Rome.”[1]

The phrase “Grand Tour” was first used by a Yorkshireman Richard Lassells, in his Voyage of Italy of 1670. Long before even him, there was much travelling in the 17th century with such individuals as Sir Thomas Hoby (1530-66), Michel de Montaigne (1580-1) and the Canterbury clergyman John Bargrave (1647) visiting Italy.[2] For the purpose of this course though, we are going to cover the topic from 1750 to 1820, a span of 70 years ranging from the early phases of the Grand Tour until Napoleonic times when the whole map of Europe was substantially altered impacting significantly on movement through Italy, and marking the end of the Grand Tour’s greatest period. The expression “Grand Tour” is sure to conjure up images of well-dressed men, mainly English, looking at art in galleries in Italy during the 18th century. Perhaps the image that has done most to promote this view is Johann Zoffany’s The Tribuna in the Uffizi which shows a select number of connoisseurs such as Sir Horace Mann and Thomas Patch engaged in looking at such treasures as Titian’s Venus di Urbino and the Medici Venus. Despite Zoffany accurately summoning up the essence of the Grand Tour, the historical occurrence was a much more complex phenomenon than this painting might suggest. Zoffany executed this work in the 1770s, but as previously stated the Grand Tour can be traced back to the late 17th century. Another misunderstanding that Zoffany’s Uffizi conveys is that the Grand Tour was an exclusively ENGLISH affair.   Though initially the cultural event was led by the English, it evolved into a more COSMOPOLITAN experience with visitors from other countries such as France, Germany, and even America visiting Italy. An image of this cosmopolitanism is provided by Tischbein’s portrait of the poet, philosopher and all round genius J.H. W. Goethe who has left us a remarkable travel diary (Italienische Reise (Italian Journey) of his visit to Italy during 1786-87. Both Zoffany’s and Tischbien’s paintings are two of the most reproduced images in books on the Ground Tour, but they suggest very different cultural viewpoints. If Zoffany’s picture conveys the cultivated elegance of life in Florence, Tischbein's painting of Goethe in the Roman campagna underlines the ANTIQUARIAN bias much more connected with Rome than Florence. If we add to these two images another image that has appeared more in studies of the Grand Tour, Gerard’s Corinne at Cape Miseno near Naples which shows the eponymous heroine, then we have three key paintings linked to three cities on the Grand Tour. 

Three Cities on the Grand Tour. 


Thomas Patch (1725-82), A Panoramic View of Florence from Bellosguardo, 1775, oil on canvas, 94.6 x 158.2 (37 ¼  x 62 ¼ inches).

 CITIES were the focal point of tourists on the Grand Tour since people didn't travel to enjoy the countryside; they travelled quickly from city to city. The first city on the ITINERARY was Florence. Unlike Rome, Florence was not known through the visual record, so visitors found it a new experience. Visitors, particularly the English had a favourable view of Florence.  English tourists regarded Florence as a “home-from-home and found it pleasantly clean and domesticated. Some tourists even compared Florence to Bath! Florence‘s main attraction was that it was the city of the Medicis; it was prized for the art produced under them, not for its buildings. The main draw for those interested in art was the Uffizi which contained an astounding collection of old masters hung in the Tribuna as memorably shown in Zoffany’s painting. Next to the Uffizi on the tourist trail were the paintings in the churches, such as Masaccio’s frescoes in Santa Maria della Carmine. We glean something of this elegant artistic tourism from some of Thomas Patch’s views of Florence (he also wrote a biography of Masaccio and appears in Zoffany’s painting) and his pictures of dilettanti in the city which unlike Zoffany’s portrayal of the connoisseurs, are heavily satiric.   


William Pars (1742-1782), The Camp Vaccino, Rome, c. 1775-8, pencil and watercolour, with touches of pen and black ink, 40.2 x 58.8 x (15 7/8 x 23 1/8 inches).
Unlike Florence, Rome demanded a more systematic approach since there was more urban complexity, more monuments of ancient, baroque and contemporary Rome to be seen. Due to this embarrassment of cultural riches, discrimination rather than comprehensiveness was needed when viewing the city.[3] This navigation could be provided by a cicerone, or guide, but the quality of these individuals varied ranging from the learned and honest to the sham-erudite and dishonest. Visitors to Rome were also at leisure to refuse a cicerone and, if they felt confident enough, explore Rome on their own. In order to find buildings where art was housed a tourist could consult a map, although maps until the late 18th century were only full of antiquarian knowledge rather than practical directions. From Romans, lists of buildings, monuments, and paintings could be obtained, and you could never do enough preparation before coming to Rome. For example if you were a Frenchman contemplating a Roman visit, you could read histories of art in Paris and visit the Louvre where you would learn about the different schools of painting and the most valued works to be seen in Rome. We know from consulting the literature about the Grand Tour that there was a hierarchy of works to be seen in Rome.  


 Pierre Jacques Volaire (1729-1790s), View of the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius, 1770s, Oil on canvas, 56 x 76 cm, Private collection.
 Turning to the last city, Naples could be summed up in one phrase: “Vede Napoli e poi mori”! (See Naples and Die!). It had a reputation for danger, and visiting it could be hazardous if you weren’t prepared. Then the largest city in Italy, Naples held many attractions for the tourist.[4] The main one would be natural, Vesuvius, which proved irresistible for painters who though competent could not match the magnificent natural palette of the volcano itself. Naples was a mixture of beauty and danger for the traveller which is borne out by their accounts throughout the 18th century. The Bay of Naples has breath-taking scenery which resulted in more interest in the environs than the city itself. If you chose to explore the city you had 300 churches to choose from, most of which would contain art. Works by Guido Reni, Giordano, the Carracci, and of course Caravaggio could be seen. Many living artists favoured the trip to Naples as a relief from the “Holy Week” of Lent in Rome. 

What Sources for Identifying Art on the Grand Tour?

Apart from the visual record (pictures of tourists and artists’ self-portraits, in their studios) what sources can we use to specify arts seen on the Grand Tour. Apart from Vasari’s Vite, heavily biased towards Florence, there were a number of books written by artists and connoisseurs that were used by tourists on the Grand Tour. C. N. Cochin’s Voyage d’Italie (1758) would be a good example of an authoritative source on art that was much quoted by tourists, though not always openly acknowledged. More art history “survey texts” were produced in the Napoleonic period, like Lanzi’s Historia pittorica della Italia (1792-6) which was essential reading for those serious about learning about the schools of painting in Italy.[5] In this tier we could also include Giuseppe Vasi who between 1746 and 1761 published ten books of etchings showing the monuments of Rome. His maps were popular although they mainly appealed to the antiquarian rather than the uninformed.  You could choose to navigate Rome without a map, or even a cicerone although you might get lost!   


Domenichino (1581-1641), The Last Communion of St Jerome,1614, oil on canvas, cm. 419 x 256, Vatican Museums, Rome.
 
The second main group would comprise the bulk of what could be called “travel literature”. This was huge and consisted of mainly unpublished personal journals, notebooks, correspondence home, and eyewitness accounts of art recorded in lots of different ways. From these sources we learn much about the art that these men and women saw, its location, their reaction and thoughts towards it. For example, Anne Miller’s Letters from Italy (1776) records her reactions to paintings and sculpture like the Laocoön. Another example would be Henri Marie Beyle’s (Stendhal) Roman Journal in which the great novelist and historian of Italian painting takes himself and his companions on promenades around Rome.[6] The accuracy of these accounts and level of artistic connoisseurship could vary. Though we learn much about painting in Naples from Edward Wright and Thomas Nugent, they offer no opinions on the quality of the works.[7] We must not forget that painters were tourists too, so we get written reports from the likes of Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun on how she painted such people as Lady Hamilton in Naples who acted out classical poses.[8] We also learn about the painters in Italy from those who mixed with them, e.g. Goethe’s descriptions of his friend Angelica Kaufmann in his Italian Journey (1786-7).


Venus de Medici, marble, height (1.53 m), a copy, perhaps Athenian of the first century B.C, Tribuna, Uffizi, Florence.
The third tier could be labelled literary, accounts of art (inspired by real experiences) in the genres of poetry and the novel. Arguably, the most famous “Grand Tour” novel is Germaine de Stael’s Corinne ou L’Italie (1807) which contains sections on Rome, Naples and Florence. One chapter is constructed like a cicerone since Corinne takes her lover Oswald on a tour around Rome pointing out to him the sights along the way.[9] A very famous literary treatment of the Grand Tour is Lord Byron’s long poem cycle Childe Harold (1812-18) which has famous descriptions of the art and antiquities of Florence and Rome such as the Venus de Medici and the Borghese Gladiator, as well as scathing comments on the connoisseurs who specialised in looking at them on the Grand Tour.


SLIDES

1)       Johann Zoffany (1733-1810), The Tribuna degli Uffizi, 1772-1778/9, oil on canvas, 123. 5 x 155 cm (48 5/8 x 61 inches), Royal Collection.
2)       Detail.
3)       Titian, Venus d’ Urbino, 1538, oil on canvas, 119 x 165 cm, Uffizi, Florence.
4)       Venus de Medici, marble, height (1.53 m), a copy, perhaps Athenian of the first century B.C, Tribuna, Uffizi, Florence.
5)       Matteo Bolognini (fl 1640s), John Bargrave flanked by Alexander Chapman and John Chapman inspecting a Map of Italy, 1647, oil on copper, 8.9 x 12.9 cms (31/2 x 5 1/8), Canterbury Dean and Chapter.
6)       Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein (1751-1829), Goethe in the Compagna, 1786, Oil on canvas, 164 x 206 cm, Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt.
7)       Friedrich Bury (1763-1823), Goethe and his Artist Friends in Rome, c. 1786-7, pen and ink, 16.3 x 21 cm (6 3/8 x 8 ¼ inches), Goethe Museum, Düsseldorf.
8)       François Gérard, Corinne at Cape Miseno, 1819, Oil on canvas, 266 x 277 cm, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon.
9)       Map showing William Beckford’s Grand Tour, 1782-3.
10)   John Robert Cozens, A Storm over Padua, after 1782, watercolour over pencil, 26 x 32.7 (10 ¼  14 5/8 inches), Tate Britain, London.
11)   Guiseppe Zocchi (1717-67), View of the Arno in Florence, Oil on canvas, 57 x 87 cm, Private collection.
12)   Thomas Patch (1725-82), A Panoramic View of Florence from Bellosguardo, 1775, oil on canvas, 94.6 x 158.2 (37 ¼  x 62 ¼ inches).
13)   Thomas Patch, A Gathering of Dilettanti in a Sculpture Hall, c. 1760-1, oil on canvas, 137.2 x 228.6 (54 x 90 inches), Private Collection.
14)   Hendrik Frans van Lint (1684-1763), Roma: Piazza del Popolo, 1750, Oil on canvas, 48 x 73 cm, Private collection
15)   Map of Rome by A. J. Dupays.
16)   Pier Leone Ghezzi (1674-1755), Doctor James Hay as Bear leader, c. 1725, pen and brown ink, 36.3 x 24.3 (14 ½ x 9 ½ ), London, British Museum.
17)   James Russell (d 1763), British Connoisseurs in Rome, c., 1750, oil on canvas, 94.5 x 134.5 x (37 ¼ x 53 inches).
18)   Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), Parody of the School of Athens, 1751, oil on canvas, 97 x 135 cms (38 3/8 x 53 1/8 inches), National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.
19)   William Pars (1742-1782), The Camp Vaccino, Rome, c. 1775-8, pencil and watercolour, with touches of pen and black ink, 40.2 x 58.8 x (15 7/8 x 23 1/8 inches).
20)   John Robert Cozens, The Colosseum from the North, 1780, pencil and watercolour, 36.1 x 12.8 cms (14 ¼ x 20 ¾ inches), National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh.
21)   Raphael (1483-1520), The Transfiguration, 1518-20, Oil on wood, 405 x 278 cm,Pinacoteca, Vatican
22)   Domenichino (1581-1641), The Last Communion of St Jerome,1614, oil on canvas, cm. 419 x 256, Vatican Museums, Rome.
23)   Andrea Sacchi (1599-1661), The Vision of St Romuald, c. 1631, Oil on canvas, 310 x 175 cm, Pinacoteca, Vatican.
24)   Daniele da Volterra (1509-66), The Deposition from the Cross, c. 1541-45,  Trinità dei Monti, Rome.
25)   Francois Granet, San Trinità dei Monti and the Villa Medici, Rome, 1808, Oil on canvas, 48 x 61 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris.
26)   Johann Baptist II Lampi (1775-1835), Portrait of Antonio Canova, after 1806, Oil on canvas, 113 x 93 cm, Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna.
27)   Angelica Kaufmann (1741-1807), Self-Portrait, 1787, oil on canvas, 128 x 95.3 cms (50 3/8 x 36 ¼ inches), Uffizi, Florence. 
28)   Pompeo Batoni, Sir Wyndham Knatchbull- Wyndham , 1758-59, oil on canvas, 233 x 161.3 cms,(91 ¾ x 63 ½ inches), Los Angeles Museum of Art.
29)   Pompeo Batoni (1708-1787), Edward Augustus, Duke of York, 1764, oil on canvas, 137.8 x 100.3 cms (54 ¼ x 39 ½ inches).
30)   Pierre Jacques Volaire (1729-1790s), View of the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius, 1770s, Oil on canvas, 56 x 76 cm, Private collection.
31)   Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun, Self-Portrait, 1800, Oil on canvas, 79 x 68 cm, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg.
32)   Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun Lady Emma Hamilton as Ariadne, 1790, oil on canvas, 134.6 x 157. 5 cms, Private Collection.


[1] Jacque Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Hundred Years of Western Cultural Life (Harper, New York, 2001), 53.
[2] Edward Chaney, “The Grand Tour and the Evolution of the Travel Book” in Grand Tour: The Lure of Italy in the Eighteenth-Century , exh cat, Tate Britain, 1996.
[3] On modes of viewing in Rome, see Rosemary Sweet, Cities and the Grand Tour: The British in Italy, c. 1690-1820 (Cambridge, 2012), 99f.
[4] Rome (about 2.5 million) is obviously the largest city today followed by Milan and then Naples (c. 962,000, about 400,000 in the 1780s). Florence is now 8th (pop 358, 000).
[5] Luigi Lanzi (June 14, 1732 – 30 March 1810) was an Italian art historian and archaeologist. When he died he was buried in the church of the Santa Croce at Florence by the side of Michelangelo. The Historia was published between 1792-96.
[6] Promenades dans Rome was first published in 1829, but Stendhal drew on notes from his earlier periods in the Eternal City. He first set foot in Rome in 1811.
[7] As noted by Sweet (173). Wright’s Some Observations (1730); Nugent’s The Grand Tour (1756).
[8] Souvenirs (1835-7, but included material on her Italian travels of 1789-90.
[9] Corinne, Book VIII, Chap III.

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