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Take Grand Tour of 18th-Century Venice and Rome at St. John’s College’s Mitchell Gallery
FOR RELEASE: January 22, 2010
CONTACT: Patricia Dempsey, 410-626-2539
A new exhibit at St. John’s College’s Mitchell Gallery, “From La Serenissima to the Eternal City: The Grand Tour in 18th-Century Venice and Rome,” documents the luxurious educational journeys that aristocratic young men and women took to two of Italy’s most vibrant cities. “The Grand Tour” ” is on view at the Mitchell Gallery at St. John’s College from March 14 to April 23. The Opening Reception and Family program, which includes a tour followed by a hands-on workshop, will be held on March 14 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
From 1763 to 1796 young men, and in later years women, from aristocratic British and American families, embarked on a Grand Tour visiting the major art centers of Europe with a tutor or “cicerone” as part of their classical education. Lasting anywhere from a few months to eight years, the Grand Tour exposed student travelers to the roots of Western civilization and its cultural legacy. They received a thorough grounding in both Greek and Latin literature and exposure to art. Italy was often the primary destination as these young men and their academic guardians concentrated on the art of Venice, Florence, Rome, and Naples.
Venice and Rome in particular represented the highest ideals of both the educational and leisurely pursuits of travel. An endless array of religious holidays, festivals, celebrations, and spectacles exposed Grand Tourists and other visitors to local customs, cultures, and manners. For the artists of the Grand Tour, many who have works on view at the Mitchell Gallery, the vibrant places, events and people of Venice and Rome are subjects for their works.
Painters and printmakers’ such as Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691-1765), Hubert Robert (1733-1808), Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78), Canaletto (1697-1768), Francesco Guardi (1712-93), and Antonio Joli (c.1700-77) were commissioned by travelers to record the architectural landmarks and scenic views of Rome, Venice, and the surrounding countryside, or to create their own fanciful inventions. Sculptors like Francesco Righetti the Elder (1749-1819) and Giacomo (c.1731-85) and Giovanni (1754-1805) Zoffoli fulfilled the demand for small-scale bronze copies of famous antique sculptures to decorate mantelpieces and tables in the homes of Grand Tour travelers.
While the nature, goals, scope, and participants of the Grand Tour changed through the years, the abiding allure of Continental Europe, particularly Italy, would last well into the next century to the present.
March 13 - Venetian Carnival. An Evening of Guilty Pleasures Inspired by “The Grand Tour.” Hosted by the Mitchell Gallery’s Next Generation, this carnival features a festive casino atmosphere, food, and drink from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Great Hall. Attendees must be 21 or older. Tickets are $35 (gallery members) and $45 (non-members).
March 14 - Opening Reception & Family Program. Art Educator Lucinda Edinberg will lead a tour of “The Grand Tour” exhibition followed by a hands-on workshop from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
March 18 - Book Club. Join Mitchell Gallery Book Club Members for a tour of “The Grand Tour” followed by a discussion of “The Real Thing” by Henry James from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. For information and registration, contact Kathy Dulisse at 410-626-2530 or Kathy.Dulisse@sjca.edu.
March 24 - Gallery Talk. Exhibit curators Eric Denker and David Gariff, both senior lecturers of adult programs at the National Gallery of Art, will give a lecture on “The Grand Tour” at 7 p.m.
April 14 - Art Express. Join Art Educator Lucinda Edinberg for a lunchtime tour of “The Grand Tour” from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m.
April 20 - Seminar. Artist Ebby Malmgren will lead a seminar related to “The Grand Tour” at 7 p.m. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Call 410-626-2556.
This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the Helena Foundation.