The Grand Tour Part I

The Grand Tour
Marianna D’Ezio
seminar held at
University of RomaTre
28-29 November 2011
“A man who has not been in Italy, is always
conscious of an inferiority, from his not
having seen what is expected a man should
“Italy is a fine well-known academic figure” –
an “invisible academy”: Sir Joshua Reynolds
would have not become President of the
Royal Academy if he had not been to Italy
*James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986, p. 211.
What is the GRAND TOUR?
• Who did the Grand Tour?
N.B. The role of women travellers
• When did British travellers undertake the Grand Tour?
N.B. The Golden Age of the Grand Tour: 1763-1796 (from pilgrims’ utilitas to Grand
Tourists’ voluptas)
N.B. Travelling before and after Napoleon
• Where did they go?
N.B. “Oasis of justice, fertility, and happiness” vs. “the effeminate indecorum and
excess of the warm South”
N.B. Following the calendar of festivities (Easter Mass at St. Peter’s; Carnival in Venice)
• What did they do?
N.B. From the “classical” (Addisonian) Grand Tour to a more political viewpoint; from
an aristocratic to a more affordable journey
N.B. Collectors; the custom of portraits
N.B. Expatriate communities
Italy in the Eighteenth Century: a “patchwork” of states,
a “geographical expression”
The “material” Grand Tour:
the journey
How to get to Italy:
- By sea: from Marseille or Nice, then Genoa, Leghorn (thus
continuing to Florence and Tuscany) or Civitavecchia (to
proceed to Rome)
- By land: crossing the Alps (N.B. the passage of Mount
Cenis), then Turin and Milan
- Sailing rivers: the Po allowed travellers to reach Ferrara and
Ravenna, and then proceed to Padua, while sailing the
Brenta they could arrive in Venice
Means of transportation:
- carosse (6 passengers); coche (coach, 16 passengers + luggage);
caleche or calash (2 seats); public coach (pick up and deposit
passengers en route)
- small chaises had to be dismantled before passing the Alps
- luggage: large amount of boxes (books: see Lady Mary Wortley
Where to stay:
- inns, taverns (with their “infinite numbers of gnats, bugs, fleas, and
lice, which infest us by night and by day” – S. Sharp)
What they needed:
- health certificates (otherwise quarantine)
- passports and safe-conducts in order to cross the borders of the
Italian states
- letters of introduction
- letters of credit
The “classical” itinerary (about 3 years long):
- Descend along the Appennines through Florence and
Bologna (or reaching Ancona and Loretto), then arrive in
Rome, proceed to Naples, finally return to Rome and arrive
in Venice for the Carnival
- Tuscany
- Around Rome: Tivoli, Frascati, Albano, Nemi
- Around Naples: Pozzuoli, Pompei, Ercolano, Paestum
- The South (Sicily, Calabria): usually out of the “beaten
Some Grand Tour landmarks in details
- Uffizi
- Presence of British Resident Horace Walpole
(1740-1786) at Palazzo Manetti
- The focus of the Grand Tour
- Could visit the Colosseum by torchlight
- The presence of the Pope
- Ruins of Ercolano and Pompeii (discovered in 1731 and
- Mount Vesuvius
- Presence of British envoy William Hamilton (17641799) and his wife Lady Emma at Palazzo Sessa
- A world in itself (Doge)
- Presence of British consul Joseph Smith (1744-1760)
=> law prohibited association between aristocrats and
foreign ambassadors and diplomats
- Fascinating decline?
- Carnival, gondolas and casinos
We are not now in the time of the Carnaval [sic]; but I meet
as many men in black dominos and masks as without
them; these are the noble Venetians, who, constantly
watched by the state-spies, dare not go about unmasked;
for if an ambassador’s servant, or a minister, or consul of
any other nation, was seen speaking to a noble Venetian,
he might be imprisoned: the laws are so excessively strict
upon this subject, that the Corps diplomatique are
confined extremely in their society, and I am amazed any
gentleman can accept of an embassy to a place where
the natives must avoid them, as if they were infected
with the plague.
Lady Elizabeth Craven, A Journey through the Crimea to Constantinople,
Dublin, 1789, 127-8.
A Venetian eighteenth-century “casino”
Francesco Guardi, Concerto di Dame al Casino dei Filarmonici (1782)
The Casini are very small houses hired by one person, or a set of
people, to meet in of an evening, where cards, conversation,
tea, coffee, lemonade, &c. and a well selected society
conspire to give pleasure: These Casini are fitted up with an
elegance of which you can form no idea; I have dined in one,
which has so fine a view from it, that from the neatness and
taste of the inside, and of the magnificence of the objects on
the without, I could almost have fancied a little fairy’s palace.
Nothing is more frequent here than to see a Venetian lady
quit her palace, for months together, to live in a casino; of
which the husband perhaps does not even know the
situation; I could divert you extremely with some Venetian
Lady Elizabeth Craven, Journey, 128.
All literary topics are pleasingly discussed [and]
everything may be learned by the conversation of
the company, as Doctor Johnson said of his
Literary Club; but more agreeably, because
women are always half of the number of persons
admitted here.
Hester Lynch Thrale Piozzi, Observations and Reflections made in the
Course of A Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, London,
1789, 105.
Literary consequences of the British
Grand Tour
itineraries, guides
travel journals, memoirs,
correspondence, novels
art guides on paintings,
sculptures, architecture,
music, drama
Most prominent “narrators” of the
eighteenth-century Grand Tour
Remarks on Several Parts
of Italy (1705)
Italy: a museum of classical
antiquities (repetitive
Addison as a commentator
on classics?
An Account of Some of
the Statues, Bas-Reliefs,
Drawings, and Pictures in
Italy (1722)
Letters from Italy, describing the
Customs and Manners of that
Country (1766)
Critical account of the manners
and customs of Italians
Travels through France
and Italy (1766)
Sharp account of Italians
While in Italy, Smollett
met Laurence Sterne who
in turn satirized his
attitude towards Italian
customs and manners in
the character of
Smelfungus in his
Sentimental Journey
A response to Sharp and Smollett:
Giuseppe Baretti
An Account of the Manners
and Customs of Italy (1768)
Resident in London and
teacher of Italian language
and literature at Streatham
Park (Thrales and Johnson)
Staunch defender of
The Beginning of Change: the
discoveries of Ercolano and Pompeii
Letters from a Young Painter Abroad
to His Friends in England (1747)
At the time of his stay in Italy (174063), Russell became one of the most
popular ciceroni
He firstly introduced the idea of
Grand Tourist and expatriate
communities as “extensions of
domestic social networks”
Virtually ignored by GT scholars
Observations on Mount Vesuvius, Mount Etna, and Other
Volcanoes (1773)
Campi Phlegraei (1776)
Interest turns to landscape and sublime vistas
Emma Hamilton
Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun
Emma, Lady Hamilton (1790-91)
Though these foreigners seem to vie with each
other in hospitality and politeness, yet we
were extremely pleased to find a great many
English here. At Mrs. Hamilton’s assembly,
before the Italians came in, I could have
fancied myself at an assembly in London.
Lady Anne Miller, Letters from Italy, 2:160-1.
Ladies of the Grand Tour
A Journey through the
Crimea to Constantinople
She wrote her memoir in
Separated from her husband
in 1780 and then started
travelling on the Continent
Resident in Naples (Villa
Letters (1765)
Aristocratic intellectual
Famous for her Turkish
Letters (1764) and
Two different
experiences of Italy (as
a wife and as a lover)
Mariana Starke, Letters from
Italy, between the Years 1792
and 1798 (1800)
More and more descriptive,
less critical and polemical
The Academy of the Arcadians, too well known
to need description, used to be one of the
most agreeable public meetings at Rome, as it
consisted of literary Characters, Nobility, and
Princes, of every nation; and this Academy still
flourishes, though the pastoral reed now
vibrates with the unharmonious sounds of
politics and war.
Mariana Starke, Letters from Italy, between the Years 1792 and
1798, London, 1800, 1:336-7.
Seal of the Accademia dell’Arcadia
(founded in Rome in 1690)
Queen Christina of Sweden
Sébastien Bourdon
Queen Christina of Sweden
Extracts of the Journals
and Correspondence of
Miss Berry from the year
1783 to 1852 (1865)
Close friend of Horace
Walpole and Joanna
Four journeys to Italy
with her sister Agnes
Comments on the
political situation
Observations and
Reflections Made in
the Course of a
Journey through
France, Italy, and
Germany (1789)
“looking for pleasure
beyond the limits of
Features of the narrative of the Grand
• Italy: “half-created”, constructed, “made in
• Contrast strategy allows: preconceptions,
prejudices, stereotypes, anticipations,
preferences => fascination with the “Other”
• Italianness vs. Englishness
Contrast strategy
 Connection between BEAUTY and DANGER:
“The Fatal Gift of Beauty” (Byron)
The Mount Cenis pass as INITIATION
The connection between Italy and the Italian
culture/religion and the success of the Gothic
Binary oppositions:
North vs. South
Germanic vs. Latin
Male vs. female (or effeminate: see castrati and cicisbei)
Cold vs. hot
Protestant vs. Roman Catholic
Civic liberty vs. feudal/Papal despotism*
Political order vs. arbitrary power and anarchy
Modern achievements vs. classical heritage
Efficiency vs. disorganization
Reticence vs. ostentation
Honesty vs. deviousness
the negative response of the Englishmen in that
period was “based not simply upon the
repetition of trite anti-catholic maxims, but
also upon a deep-felt repulsion. Catholicism
was equated with autocracy; it drew on
credulity and superstition and led to misery,
poverty, clerical rule and oppression.”
Jeremy Black, Italy and the Grand Tour, New Haven and London: Yale
University Press, 2003, p. 189.
Princess Giuseppina di Lorena Carignano
Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun
Marie Joséphine Thérèse de Lorraine
(ca. 1770)
There is no assembly at present, or open-house, but that of
Madame de St. Giles, who sees company, and gives cards every
evening, and where all the strangers, particularly English
properly introduced, are extremely well received. They are
sure to find at her house the first people of the court, the
foreign ministers, and the best company at Turin; but were
they not to enjoy any of these advantages, the lady of the
house is herself a sufficient motive for desiring her
acquaintance: by her obliging manner she has the happy art of
making her house perfectly agreeable to every body.
Lady Anne Miller, Letters from Italy Describing the Customs, Antiquities,
Paintings etc. of that Country, London, 1776, 1:149-50.
Luisa Stolberg d’Albany (1752-1824) and Vittorio
Alfieri (1749-1803)
François-Xavier Fabre, Alfieri and the Countess of Albany (1796)
Maria Maddalena Morelli,
Arcadian name “Corilla Olimpica” (1727?-1800)
In Maria Bandini Buti, Enciclopedia
biografica e bibliografica italiana:
poetesse e scrittrici, Rome, 1942,
Maria Casimira Sobieski or Sobieska
Henri Gascar
Detail from John III Sobieski with His Family
Angelica Kauffman
Angelica Kauffman
Selfportrait (1780-85)
Petronilla Paolini Massimi
In Maria Bandini Buti, Enciclopedia
biografica e bibliografica italiana:
poetesse e scrittrici, Rome, 1942, 2:110.
Faustina Maratti Zappi
In Jolanda de Blasi, Le scrittrici italiane
dalle origini al 1800, Florence, Nemi, 1930,
The dutchesses of Corsini and Bracciano permit me to
follow them to the assemblies […] called the
Conversation. Yesterday it was held at the Princess
Palestrini’s […] heiress of the Barberini family.
The princess Borghese is possessed of a palace worthy of
these brilliant assemblies, and receives her guests in the
politest manner.
We yesterday had the pleasure of hearing at the princess
Piccolomini’s, a musical performance, much more
enchanting than that of the public singers, I mean the
songs of Signora Madelena Morelli, a famous extempore
repeater of verses, born in Tuscany.
Madame du Boccage, Letters concerning England, Holland and
Italy, London, 1770, 2:23, 24, 26, 52 and 106.
Isabella Teotochi Albrizzi (1760-1836)
The “Venetian Madame de Staël”
Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun
Isabella Teotochi Albrizzi (1792)

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