Jordan Mason Mayfield
During the eighteenth century, European society was greatly influenced by classical ideas of Roman and Greek antiquities. As a result, a Grand Tour to Italy developed as a necessary component of a young aristocrat’s formal education. Greece was also a destination, however most did not travel there in the early eighteenth century due to dangers travelers often faced on the route and due to travel restrictions imposed by the Ottoman Empire. Scholars such as Johann Joachim Wincklemann (1717-1768) popularized classical art by their studies of Greek and Roman architecture and art forms.1 Due to this, a young nobleman was not considered fully educated in classics unless he had traveled extensively, especially in Italy. However, when battle during the French Revolutionary War and Napoleonic Wars in France jeopardized travel routes to Italy in the late eighteenth century, English and French travelers had to look to other destinations on their journey to Classical knowledge. As a result, travel in Greece and the Middle East became popular destinations. Touring Greece allowed nobles and scholars the ability to study antiquities and architecture, while travel in the Near East allowed them a chance to look at the cradle of civilization. Travel in the Middle East, however, also resulted in a desire for “the Orient” and the exotic. The “Orient” refers to cultures and peoples foreign to Europeans, specifically the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa; the term encompasses stereotypes and generalizations created by European audiences about these cultures. The Grand Tour Beyond: Greece and the Holy Land will explore some of the reasons behind the development of the Grand Tour outside of Italy, how this impacted arts education and collecting back in Europe, and how Grand Tour travel to non-western destinations contributed to stereotypes of non-European peoples.
1. Jean Sorabella, “The Grand Tour,” last modified October 2003, http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/grtr/hd_grtr.htm.