03/27/06 - the grand tour

In today's excerpt - art can be defined most often by what monied society deems it to be:

"By the mid-eighteenth century, Old Master paintings and classical antiquities had become de rigueur props for British gentlemen.  Privileged young men would start collecting on the Grand Tour, the long ramble around Europe's cultural capitals that served as a sort of finishing school for the British male elite.  The focal point of the Grand Tour was Rome, where the ancients and the Renaissance met. There, dozens of art dealers supplied 'Grand Tourists' with everything they were expected to take home with them, from Mannerist paintings and Piranesi prints, to Etruscan pottery and Roman busts.  Dozens more artists earned their livings by painting flattering Grand Tour portraits, the essential 'I was there' record of the experience, in which Grand Tourists posed soulfully against backdrops of ruins, caressing antiquities in their hands."


Maya Jasanoff


Edge of Empire: Lives, Culture, and Conquest in the East, 1750-1850


First Vintage Books


Copyright 2005 by Maya Jasanoff


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