The Grand Tour
With roots going back to the late 16th century and continuing until the early 19th century, the Grand Tour informally began as an aristocratic tour of select fashionable European cities. Reserved primarily for wealthy, educated young men from across Europe and even as far away as America, these Grand Tourists journeyed throughout the European continent as a way to bolster their own education and knowledge of art, architecture, and culture. Later evolving into a more formal journey often in addition to, or replacing a traditional university education, the Grand Tour became a kind of wandering academy which reached its height in the 18th century. Rome filled with newly rediscovered ancient beauty and a flourishing contemporary art scene was the pinnacle of any Grand Tourist’s itinerary. As such, souvenirs often from Italy, in the form of ancient sculptures, self-portraits, paintings of romantic views, and silver were brought back or commissioned upon return to adorn the young man’s country estate or urban townhome as visual evidence of the owner’s intellectual sophistication.