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The Grand Tour
2 May 2015

This weekend I am staying at home although the temptation to go away was there to make use of the bank holiday. Many people will be catching a plane to Europe with the ease of 21st century travel, but centuries ago it was quite a different story. From the late Seventeenth century to the early nineteenth century it was only the aristocracy and notable artists and architects who would embark on a cultural Grand Tour around Europe that would take months not days.

A highly figured nineteenth century Grand Tour Giallo Antico Tazza

The Grand Tour was arduous and expensive, but deemed essential in the completion of the ‘English Gentleman’ and for cultural hegemony. The Architect and designer Inigo Jones and the Earl of Arundel, completed two Grand Tours in the seventeenth century. On his travels Jones studied the work of the sixteenth century Venetian Architect, Palladio and was responsible for introducing Palladian architecture to England completely re defining the direction of the 18th century aesthetic.

The Actors Church in the Covent Garden Piazza built by Inigo Jones

By the 19th Century a flourishing business had evolved specifically manufacturing souvenirs for a Gentleman’s grand tour . These artefacts were miniature replicas of ancient temples and Roman objects discovered throughout Italy during archeological excavations . Manufactured in varying sizes, quality and materials to suit a clients budget , they were exquisitely executed and highly prized status symbols showing one had been on the Grand Tour.

A 19th century Grand Tour Statuary Marble vase

These exquisite objects capture my imagination and I am hopelessly drawn to them. As I am sadly at home and not traveling to my favourite city of Rome, they still serve the purpose of bringing the essence of Italy’s ancient past to my drawing room.

A Grand Tour Relic of the Column of Phocas in Rome with our Hyde Wall Light