The Romance of Venice
How the Grand Tour era brought artists flocking to Venice....
For many centuries Rome had been the destination for pilgrims. During the Italian Renaissance there was a rise in interest of the classical antiquities and in collecting artefacts. As a result, Italy soon became a focus of interest for anyone wanting to immerse themselves in the ancient Roman cultural heritage and the art of the Renaissance. During the late 17th century the idea of travelling to expand your learning and complete your education soon became a custom which became known as the Grand Tour. From this time until the turn of the 19th century, the Grand Tour was a trip made usually by wealthy upper class young men typically around the age of 21. Although the basis of the tour was to see the cultural legacy of classical antiquity and the Renaissance it was more of a pleasure trip and a chance to mix with the members of the European aristocracy. The trips usually started in Paris, taking in Switzerland before heading to Italy. In addition to Turin, Rome and Naples, a stay in Venice became an essential part of the tour.
Since before the Renaissance, Venice had already become an important city due to its location and trading opportunities. Its wealth helped to create one of the world’s most elegant and refined cities. By the time of the Grand Tour it was also known as a liberal city with a reputation for decadence, making it a must see destination. Artists such as Canaletto began a trend for producing topographical views of the City which had a commercial appeal for tourists and foreign visitors. When English Grand Tourists brought their paintings back home, they not only served as souvenirs to remind them of their visit but also soon captured the interest and imagination of the public and those who had perhaps not yet travelled there. Many artists were also compelled to travel to the city to capture the light and atmosphere of the buildings and canals. Thus began a long held -fascination for the famous city of romance that has never really diminished but has increased as travel became more accessible to people.