The term "Grand Tour" refers to the 17th- and 18th-century custom of a
traditional trip of
Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class young
European men of sufficient means and rank (typically accompanied by a
chaperon, such as a family member) when they had come of age (about 21
years old). Young women of equally sufficient means
("debutantes"), or those of either gender of a more humble origin who
could find a sponsor, could also partake. The custom—which
flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail
transport in the 1840s and was associated with a standard
itinerary—served as an educational rite of passage. Though the Grand
Tour was primarily associated with the
British nobility and wealthy
landed gentry, similar trips were made by wealthy young men of other
Protestant Northern European nations, and, from the second half of the
18th century, by some South and North Americans. The tradition
declined as enthusiasm for neo-classical culture waned, and with the
advent of accessible rail and steamship travel—an era in which
Thomas Cook made the "Cook's Tour" of early mass tourism a byword.
The New York Times
The New York Times in 2008 described the
Grand Tour thusly:
Three hundred years ago, wealthy young Englishmen began taking a
Oxbridge trek through
Italy in search of art, culture
and the roots of Western civilization. With nearly unlimited funds,
aristocratic connections and months (or years) to roam, they
commissioned paintings, perfected their language skills and mingled
with the upper crust of the Continent.
The primary value of the Grand Tour, it was believed, lay in its
exposure to the cultural legacy of classical antiquity and the
Renaissance, and to the aristocratic and fashionably polite society of
the European continent. In addition, it provided the only opportunity
to view specific works of art, and possibly the only chance to hear
certain music. A
Grand Tour could last anywhere from several months to
several years. It was commonly undertaken in the company of a
Cicerone, a knowledgeable guide or tutor. The
Grand Tour had more than
superficial cultural importance; as
E. P. Thompson
E. P. Thompson stated,
"ruling-class control in the 18th century was located primarily in a
cultural hegemony, and only secondarily in an expression of economic
or physical (military) power." The legacy of the
Grand Tour lives
on to the modern day and is still evident in works of travel and
literature. From its aristocratic origins and the permutations of
sentimental and romantic travel to the age of tourism and
Grand Tour still influences the destinations
tourists choose and shapes the ideas of culture and sophistication
that surround the act of travel.
In essence, the
Grand Tour was neither a scholarly pilgrimage nor a
religious one, though a pleasurable stay in
Venice and a cautious
Rome were essential. Catholic Grand Tourists followed the
same routes as Protestant Whigs. Since the 17th century, a tour to
such places was also considered essential for budding young artists to
understand proper painting and sculpture techniques, though the
trappings of the Grand Tour—valets and coachmen, perhaps a cook,
certainly a "bear-leader" or scholarly guide—were beyond their
reach. The advent of popular guides, such as the
Richardsons',[clarification needed] did much to popularise such trips,
and following the artists themselves, the elite considered travel to
such centres as necessary rites of passage. For gentlemen, some works
of art were essential to demonstrate the breadth and polish they had
received from their tour: in Rome, antiquaries like Thomas Jenkins
provided access to private collections of antiquities, among which
enough proved to be for sale that the English market raised the price
of such things, and for coins and medals, which formed more portable
souvenirs and a respected gentleman's guide to ancient history. Pompeo
Batoni made a career of painting the English milord posed with
graceful ease among Roman antiquities. Many continued on to Naples,
where they viewed
Herculaneum and Pompeii, but few ventured far into
Italy or Malta, and fewer still to Greece, then still under
2 Typical itinerary
3 Published accounts
4 On television
5 See also
7.2 General references
8 External links
Rome for many centuries had been the goal of pilgrims, especially
during Jubilee when they visited the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome.
In Britain, Thomas Coryat's travel book
Coryat's Crudities (1611),
published during the Twelve Years' Truce, was an early influence on
Grand Tour but it was the far more extensive tour through
Naples undertaken by the 'Collector' Earl of Arundel, with his
wife and children in 1613–14 that established the most significant
precedent. This is partly because he asked Inigo Jones, not yet
established as an architect but already known as a 'great traveller'
and masque designer, to act as his cicerone (guide). Larger numbers
of tourists began their tours after the
Peace of Münster
Peace of Münster in 1648.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded use of
the term (perhaps its introduction to English) was by Richard Lassels
(c. 1603–1668), an expatriate Roman Catholic priest, in his book The
Voyage of Italy, which was published posthumously in
Paris in 1670 and
then in London.[a] Lassels's introduction listed four areas in which
travel furnished "an accomplished, consummate Traveller": the
intellectual, the social, the ethical (by the opportunity of drawing
moral instruction from all the traveller saw), and the political.
Portrait of Douglas, 8th Duke of Hamilton, on his
Grand Tour with his
physician Dr. John Moore and the latter's son John. A view of Geneva
is in the distance where they stayed for two years. Painted by Jean
Preudhomme in 1774.
The idea of travelling for the sake of curiosity and learning was a
developing idea in the 17th century. With John Locke's Essay
Concerning Human Understanding (1690), it was argued, and widely
accepted, that knowledge comes entirely from the external senses, that
what one knows comes from the physical stimuli to which one has been
exposed. Thus, one could "use up" the environment, taking from it all
it offers, requiring a change of place. Travel, therefore, was
necessary for one to develop the mind and expand knowledge of the
world. As a young man at the outset of his account of a repeat Grand
Tour, the historian
Edward Gibbon remarked that "According to the law
of custom, and perhaps of reason, foreign travel completes the
education of an English gentleman." Consciously adapted for
intellectual self-improvement, Gibbon was "revisiting the Continent on
a larger and more liberal plan"; most Grand Tourists did not pause
more than briefly in libraries. On the eve of the Romantic era he
played a significant part in introducing, William Beckford wrote a
vivid account of his
Grand Tour that made Gibbon's unadventurous
Italian tour look distinctly conventional.
The typical 18th-century sentiment was that of the studious observer
travelling through foreign lands reporting his findings on human
nature for those unfortunate enough to have stayed home. Recounting
one's observations to society at large to increase its welfare was
considered an obligation; the
Grand Tour flourished in this
Grand Tour offered a liberal education, and the opportunity to
acquire things otherwise unavailable at home, lending an air of
accomplishment and prestige to the traveller. Grand Tourists would
return with crates full of books, works of art, scientific
instruments, and cultural artifacts – from snuff boxes and
paperweights, to altars, fountains, and statuary – to be displayed
in libraries, cabinets, gardens, drawing rooms, and galleries built
for that purpose. The trappings of the Grand Tour, especially
portraits of the traveller painted in iconic continental settings,
became the obligatory emblems of worldliness, gravitas and influence.
Artists who especially thrived on Grand Tourists included Carlo
Maratti, who was first patronized by John Evelyn as early as 1645,
Pompeo Batoni the portraitist, and the vedutisti such as Canaletto,
Pannini and Guardi. The less well-off could return with an album of
The "perhaps" in Gibbon's opening remark cast an ironic shadow over
his resounding statement. Critics of the
Grand Tour derided its
lack of adventure. "The tour of
Europe is a paltry thing", said one
18th century critic, "a tame, uniform, unvaried prospect". The
Grand Tour was said to reinforce the old preconceptions and prejudices
about national characteristics, as Jean Gailhard's Compleat Gentleman
(1678) observes: "French courteous. Spanish lordly. Italian amorous.
German clownish." The deep suspicion with which Tour was viewed at
home in England, where it was feared that the very experiences that
completed the British gentleman might well undo him, were epitomised
in the sarcastic nativist view of the ostentatiously "well-travelled"
maccaroni of the 1760s and 1770s.
Northerners found the contrast between Roman ruins and modern peasants
Roman Campagna an educational lesson in vanities[citation
needed] (painting by Nicolaes Pietersz Berchem, 1661, Mauritshuis)
Also worth noticing is that the
Grand Tour not only inspired
stereotypes among the countries themselves but also led to a dynamic
between the northern and southern Europe. By constantly depicting
Italy as a "picturesque place", the travellers also unconsciously
Italy as a place of backwardness. This unconscious
degradation is best reflected in the famous verses of Lamartine in
Italy is depicted as a "land of the past... where everything
After the advent of steam-powered transportation around 1825, the
Grand Tour custom continued, but it was of a qualitative difference
— cheaper to undertake, safer, easier, open to anyone. During much
of the 19th century, most educated young men of privilege undertook
the Grand Tour.
Switzerland came to be included in a more
broadly defined circuit. Later, it became fashionable for young women
as well; a trip to Italy, with a spinster aunt as chaperone, was part
of the upper-class woman's education, as in E. M. Forster's novel A
Room with a View.
The most common itinerary of the Grand Tour shifted across
generations in the cities it embraced, but the British tourist usually
began in Dover,
England and crossed the
English Channel to Ostend,[b]
in Belgium, or to
Le Havre in France. From there the
tourist, usually accompanied by a tutor (known colloquially as a
"bear-leader") and (if wealthy enough) a troop of servants, could rent
or acquire a coach (which could be resold in any city or disassembled
and packed across the Alps, as in Giacomo Casanova's travels, who
resold it on completion), or opt to make the trip by boat as far as
the Alps, either travelling up the
Seine to Paris, or up the
Upon hiring a French-speaking guide, as French was the dominant
language of the elite in
Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries,
the tourist and his entourage would travel to Paris. There the
traveller might undertake lessons in French, dancing, fencing, and
riding. The appeal of
Paris lay in the sophisticated language and
manners of French high society, including courtly behavior and
fashion. This served the purpose of preparing the young man for a
leadership position at home, often in government or diplomacy.
Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland
Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland (1640–1702), painted in
classical dress in
Rome by Carlo Maratti
Paris he would typically go to urban
Switzerland for a while,
Geneva (the cradle of the Protestant Reformation) or
Lausanne. ("Alpinism" or mountaineering developed in the 19th
century.) From there the traveller would endure a difficult crossing
Alps into northern
Italy (such as at the Great St Bernard
Pass), which included dismantling the carriage and luggage. If
wealthy enough, he might be carried over the hard terrain by servants.
Once in Italy, the tourist would visit
Turin (and, less often, Milan),
then might spend a few months in Florence, where there was a
considerable Anglo-Italian society accessible to travelling Englishmen
"of quality" and where the
Tribuna of the Uffizi
Tribuna of the Uffizi gallery brought
together in one space the monuments of High
Renaissance paintings and
Roman sculptures that would inspire picture galleries adorned with
antiquities at home, with side trips to Pisa, then move on to
Padua, Bologna, and Venice. The British idea of
Venice as the
"locus of decadent Italianate allure" made it an epitome and cultural
setpiece of the Grand Tour.
Venice the traveller went to
Rome to study the ruins of ancient
Rome, and the masterpieces of painting, sculpture, and architecture of
Rome's Early Christian, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. Some
travellers also visited
Naples to study music, and (after the mid-18th
century) to appreciate the recently discovered archaeological sites of
Herculaneum and Pompeii, and perhaps (for the adventurous) an
ascent of Mount Vesuvius. Later in the period the more adventurous,
especially if provided with a yacht, might attempt
Sicily (the site of
Greek ruins), Malta or even
Greece itself. But
Naples – or later
Paestum further south – was the usual terminus.
From here the traveller traversed the
Alps heading north through to
the German-speaking parts of Europe. The traveller might stop first in
Innsbruck before visiting Vienna, Dresden,
Berlin and Potsdam, with
perhaps some study time at the universities in
Munich or Heidelberg.
From there travellers visited
Flanders (with more
gallery-going and art appreciation) before returning across the
Channel to England.
Grand Tour through
Europe shown in red
Published accounts of the
Grand Tour provided illuminating detail and
an often polished first-hand perspective of the experience. Examining
some accounts offered by authors in their own lifetimes, Jeremy
Black detects the element of literary artifice in these and
cautions that they should be approached as travel literature rather
than unvarnished accounts. He lists as examples Joseph Addison, John
Andrews, William Thomas Beckford, whose Dreams, Waking Thoughts,
and Incidents was a published account of his letters back home in
1780, embellished with stream-of-consciousness associations, William
Coxe, Elizabeth Craven, John Moore, tutor to successive dukes
of Hamilton, Samuel Jackson Pratt, Tobias Smollett, Philip
Thicknesse, and Arthur Young. Although
Italy was written as the
"sink of iniquity," many travelers were not kept from recording the
activities they participated in or the people they met, especially the
women they encountered. To the Grand Tourists,
Italy was an
unconventional country, for "The shameless women of
Venice made it
unusual, in its own way." Sir James Hall confided in his written
diary to comment on seeing "more handsome women this day than I ever
saw in my life," also noting "how flattering Venetian dress
[was] — or perhaps the lack of it." 
Eighteenth and nineteenth century Italian women, with their unfamiliar
methods and routines, were opposites to the western dress expected of
European women in the eighteenth and nineteenth century; their
"foreign" ways led to the documentation of encounters with them,
providing published accounts of the Grand Tour. Boswell courted noble
ladies and recorded his progress with his relationships, mentioning
that Madame Micheli "Talked of religion, philosophy… Kissed hand
often." The promiscuity of Boswell’s encounters with Italian elite
are shared in his diary and provide further detail on events that
occurred during the Grand Tour. Boswell notes "Yesterday morning with
her. Pulled up petticoat and showed whole knees… Touched with her
goodness. All other liberties exquisite." He describes his time
with the Italian women he encounters and shares a part of history in
his written accounts. Lord
Byron's letters to his mother with the
accounts of his travels have also been published. Byron spoke of his
first enduring Venetian love, his landlord’s wife, mentioning that
he has "fallen in love with a very pretty Venetian of two and
twenty— with great black eyes — she is married — and so am
I — we have found & sworn an eternal
attachment … & I am more in love than ever… and I verily
believe we are one of the happiest unlawful couples on this side of
the Alps." Many tourists enjoyed sexual relations while abroad but
to a great extent were well behaved, such as Thomas Pelham, and
scholars, such as Richard Pococke, who wrote lengthy letters of their
Grand Tour experiences.
Inventor Sir Francis Ronalds’ journals and sketches of his 1818–20
Europe and the Near East have been published on the
web. The letters written by sisters Mary and Ida Saxton of
Canton, Ohio in 1869 while on a six-month tour offer insight into the
Grand Tour tradition from an American perspective.
In 2009, the
Grand Tour featured prominently in a BBC/PBS miniseries
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. Set mainly in Venice, it
Grand Tour as a rite of passage.
Kevin McCloud presented Kevin McCloud's
Grand Tour on
Channel 4 in
2009 with McCloud retracing the tours of British architects.
In 2005, British art historian
Brian Sewell followed in the footsteps
of the Grand Tourists for a 10-part television series Brian Sewell's
Grand Tour. Produced by UK's Channel Five, Sewell travelled by car and
confined his attention solely to
Italy stopping in Rome, Florence,
Naples, Pompeii, Turin, Milan, Cremona, Siena, Bologna, Vicenza,
Paestum, Urbino, Tivoli and concluding at a Venetian masked ball.
In 1998, the BBC produced an art history series Sister Wendy's Grand
Tour presented by British Carmelite nun Sister Wendy. Ostensibly an
art history series, the journey takes her from
Madrid to Saint
Petersburg with stop-offs to see the great masterpieces.
The 2016 Amazon motoring programme The
Grand Tour is named after the
traditional Grand Tour, and refers to the show being set in a
different location worldwide each week.
Hiking § History
Anthony Wood reported that the book was "esteemed the best and
surest Guide or Tutor for young men of his Time." see Edward Chaney,
"Richard Lassels", ODNB, and idem, The
Grand Tour and the Great
Rebellion (Geneva, 1985)
Ostend was the starting point for William Beckford on the continent.
^ Gross, Matt (September 5, 2008). "Lessons From the Frugal Grand
Tour". Frugal Traveler. New York Times. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
The Making of the English Working Class
The Making of the English Working Class 1991:43.
^ Colletta, Lisa (2015). The Legacy of the Grand Tour: New Essays on
Travel, Literature, and Culture. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
p. 226. ISBN 978-1611477979.
^ "''Pilgrimages''". Newadvent.org. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
^ E. Chaney, The Evolution of the Grand Tour, 2nd ed. (2000) and idem,
Inigo Jones's "Roman Sketchbook", 2 vols (2006)
^ E. Chaney, "Gibbon, Beckford and the Interpretation of Dreams,
Waking Thoughts and Incidents", The Beckford
Society Annual Lectures
(London, 2004), pp. 25–50.
Paul Fussell (1987), p. 129.
^ E. Chaney, The Evolution of English Collecting
^ Noted by Redford 1996, Preface.
^ a b Bohls & Duncan (2005)
^ Nelson Moe, "
Italy as Europe's South", in The View from Vesuvius,
Italian Culture and the Souther Question, University of California
^ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,
^ See Fussell (1987), Buzard (2002), Bohls and Duncan (2005)
^ a b Towner, John. "THE GRAND TOUR A Key Phase in the History of
Tourism" (PDF). Annals of
Tourism Research. Vol. 12, pp. 297–333.
1985. J. Jafari and Pergamon Press Ltd. Retrieved 12 December
2012. [permanent dead link]
^ The Registro dei viaggiatori inglesi in Italia, 1618–1765,
consists of 2038 autograph signatures of English and Scottish
visitors, some of them scholars, to be sure. (J. Isaacs, "The Earl of
Rochester's Grand Tour" The Review of English Studies 3. 9 [January
^ Redford, Bruce.
Venice and the Grand Tour. Yale University Press:
^ Eglin, John.
Venice Transfigured: The Myth of
Venice in British
Culture, 1660–1797. Macmillan: 2001.
^ "The captured cargo that unpacks the spirit of the grand tour". The
guardian. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
^ Freller, Thomas (2009).
Malta & The Grand Tour. Malta: Midsea
Books. ISBN 9789993272489.
^ Black, "Fragments from the Grand Tour" The Huntington Library
Quarterly 53.4 (Autumn 1990:337–341) p 338.
^ Andrews, A Comparative View of the French and English Nations in
their Manners, Politics, and Literature, London, 1785.
Dreams, Waking Thoughts, and Incidents at Project Gutenberg
^ Coxe, Sketches of the Natural, Political and Civil State of
Switzerland London, 1779; Travels into Poland, Russia, Sweden and
Denmark London, 1784; Travels in
Switzerland London, 1789. Coxe's
travels range far from the
Grand Tour pattern.
^ Craven, A Journey through the Crimea to Constantinople London 1789.
^ Moore, A View of
Society and Manners in Italy; with Anecdotes
relating to some Eminent Characters London, 1781
^ Thicknesse, A Year's Journey through
France and Part of Spain,
^ a b c Iain Gordon Brown, "Water, Windows, and Women: The
Venice for Scots in the Age of the Grand Tour,"
Eighteenth-Century Life, November 07, 2006,
^ George Gordon Byron and Leslie A. Marchand, Byron's Letters and
Journals: The Complete and Unexpurgated Text of All Letters Available
in Manuscript and the Full Printed Version of All Others (Newark:
University of Delaware Press, 1994).
^ Jeremy Black,
Italy and the
Grand Tour (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 2003), 118-120.
^ "Sir Francis Ronalds' Grand Tour". Sir
Francis Ronalds and his
Family. Retrieved 9 Apr 2016.
^ Ronalds, B.F. (2016). Sir Francis Ronalds: Father of the Electric
Telegraph. London: Imperial College Press.
Grand Tour of
Ida Saxton McKinley
Ida Saxton McKinley and Sister Mary Saxton
Barber 1869 (Canton, Ohio) 1985.
Elizabeth Bohls and Ian Duncan, ed. (2005).
1700–1830 : An Anthology. Oxford University Press.
James Buzard (2002), "The
Grand Tour and after (1660–1840)", in The
Cambridge Companion to
Travel Writing. ISBN 0-521-78140-X
Paul Fussell (1987), "The Eighteenth Century and the Grand Tour", in
The Norton Book of Travel, ISBN 0-393-02481-4
Edward Chaney (1985), The
Grand Tour and the Great Rebellion: Richard
Lassels and 'The Voyage of Italy' in the seventeenth century(CIRVI,
Edward Chaney (2004), "Richard Lassels": entry in the Oxford
Dictionary of National Biography.
Edward Chaney, The Evolution of the Grand Tour: Anglo-Italian Cultural
Relations since the
Renaissance (Frank Cass, London and Portland OR,
1998; revised edition, Routledge 2000). ISBN 0-7146-4474-9.
Edward Chaney ed. (2003), The Evolution of English Collecting (Yale
University Press, New Haven and London, 2003).
Edward Chaney and Timothy Wilks, The Jacobean Grand Tour: Early Stuart
Europe (I.B. Tauris, London, 2014). ISBN 978 1
78076 783 3
Lisa Colletta ed. (2015), The Legacy of the Grand Tour: New Essays on
Travel, Literature, and Culture (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press,
London, 2015). ISBN 978 1 61147 797 9
Sánchez-Jáuregui-Alpañés, Maria Dolores, and Scott Wilcox. The
English Prize: The Capture of the Westmorland, An Episode of the Grand
Tour. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012.
Stephens, Richard. A Catalogue Raisonné of Francis Towne
(1739–1816) (London: Paul Mellon Centre, 2016), doi:10.17658/towne.
Geoffrey Trease, The
Grand Tour (Yale University Press) 1991.
Andrew Witon and Ilaria Bignamini, Grand Tour: The Lure of
the Eighteenth-Century, Tate Gallery exhibition catalogue, 1997.
Clare Hornsby (ed.) "The Impact of Italy: The
Grand Tour and Beyond",
British School at Rome, 2000.
Ilaria Bignamini and Clare Hornsby, "Digging and Dealing in Eighteenth
Century Rome" (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2010).
Roma Britannica: Art Patronage and Cultural Exchange in
Eighteenth-Century Rome, eds. D. Marshall, K. Wolfe and S. Russell,
British School at Rome, 2011, pp. 147–70.
Henry S. Belden III,
Grand Tour of
Ida Saxton McKinley
Ida Saxton McKinley and Sister Mary
Saxton Barber 1869, (Canton, Ohio) 1985.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Grand Tour.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Grand Tour.
Grand Tour page for English course taught at the University of
Grand Tour online at the Getty Museum
In Our Time: The Grand Tour: Jeremy Black,
Edward Chaney and Chloe
Wanderings in the Land of Ham by a daughter of Japhet, London :
Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, & Roberts, 1858. A description of
Grand Tour at the Internet Archive Digital Library.
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