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Introduction to the Grand Tour


The Grand Tour: Art and Travel, 1740–1914

From the mid-eighteenth century to the eve of World War I, northern Europeans and Americans became avid travelers, journeying abroad as never before for pleasure, education, and for the advancement of their careers. The "Grand Tour," as an extended period of travel became known, experienced its heyday in the eighteenth century, with Italy as its primary destination. In the nineteenth century, colonial expansion and advances in transportation enabled more people to travel and to seek out new destinations, including Spain, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, and Palestine. People traveled for a variety of reasons, many of which were related to art. Tourists sought out museums and archaeological sites, and also provided a market for paintings, prints, and photographs depicting landscapes, city views, and ancient wonders. Artists traveled not only to acquire further training and to seek patronage, but in order to develop new opportunities related to tourism. They provided illustrations for guidebooks and train advertisements, published travel accounts, or documented historic and archaeological sites for commercial photography firms. Creating art was an important part of the tourist experience—professional artists and amateurs alike filled numerous sketchbooks with visual records of their journeys.

This web module is based on the exhibition The Grand Tour: Art and Travel, 1740–1914, which was on display at the Indiana University Art Museum from September 20 through December 21, 2008. The exhibition included ninety-eight works from the museum's permanent collection, as well as ten books from the Lilly Library. A variety of visual materials— paintings, sculptures, drawings and watercolors, photographs, sketchbooks, journals, and illustrated travel memoirs and guidebooks—reveal the intersections of art, travel, culture, and politics in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European and North American society.

The exhibition was organized by Jenny McComas, Class of 1958 Curator of Western Art after 1800. The exhibition and this web module were supported by the IU Art Museum's Arc Fund, the Class of 1958 Endowment for the Curator of Western Art after 1800, and Bill and Nancy Hunt.

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