The Grand Tour

Beginning in the sixteenth century and peaking in the eighteenth, increasing numbers of affluent travelers from northern Europe, along with their tutors, artists, chaperones, and sometimes spouses, embarked on an extended educational journey now known as the Grand Tour. Often capping or complementing a university degree, this mobile rite of passage aimed to deepen historical, economic, political, and cultural knowledge while honing aesthetic tastes. Typically focused on Italy but often incorporating France, the Alps, Germany and the Low Countries, the Tour exposed generations of impressionable travelers to unfamiliar places, spaces, objects, customs, people, and ideas. This seminar examines the Grand Tour in its cultural and artistic dimensions, asking where travelers went, what they saw, whom they met, what they acquired, and how their experience inflected their vision of the world. Focusing on visual and material culture and making use of firsthand accounts, we will study the Tour’s impact on both the visitors and the visited, asking how the exchanges it promoted fostered the spread of new styles, new perspectives, and new forms of living. 3 credits. Satisfies the chronological requirement. MDP.