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In the Library: The European Grand Tour

May 6 – August 30, 2013
East Building, Study Center Library

John Emes after John Smith, General View of the Colosseum, in Select Views in Italy, London: Printed by T. Chapman, for John Smith, William Byrne, and John Emes, 1795, National Gallery of Art Library, David K. E. Bruce Fund

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

The Grand Tour was a journey, usually beginning in Paris and continuing through Italy, undertaken by young aristocrats of northern Europe. It began as a way for privileged youth, especially in Britain, to complete their education by learning manners and languages, and to gain knowledge about the geography, culture, and politics of the continent. The term was first coined by Richard Lassel in his 1670 work Voyage of Italy. By the end of the seventeenth century, such a journey included an appreciation of classical Roman ruins and the collection of art and antiquities. The practice flourished throughout the eighteenth century, and by the middle of the nineteenth century, even the middle classes were embarking on such travel. A variety of literature and bibliographic material accompanied and evolved with the Grand Tour. The selections here are drawn from the National Gallery of Art Library’s rare books collection and image collections. They record, describe, and distill the experiences of travelers in a variety of ways, and afford us unique views of the Grand Tour.

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington..