Travel, Art and Changing Goals of the Grand Tour: The British in Eighteenth Century Venice

Jessica B Manire


Northern European tourists, mostly British, began traveling to Venice in large numbers during the 18th century as a stop on the Grand Tour. The Grand Tour, a tour through Europe’s main continental cities, was meant to complete the education of a gentleman through exposure to ancient culture, art and politics. Through a close, chronological analysis of travel guides and diaries spanning from the late 17th century to the early 19th century by British travelers who visited Venice, it becomes clear that what constituted a completed education changed. Earlier texts focus mainly on attractions in Venice that have associations with the classics. Throughout the eighteenth century, the focus of the Grand Tourists’ education became more on the modern and was increasingly on the subject of art and architecture. The places and works of art visited and seen do not change so much as the way in which the authors analyze them. The Grand Tour had sparked the commoditization of art, an interest in art history and rise of connoisseurship earlier in the century, and by the later half of the 18th century a heightened interest and familiarity with art and architecture is evident.


Art History, History of Travel

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