On their European travels young aristocrats collected objects to illustrate the knowledge and experience they had acquired on the way. What they saw was echoed in architecture and interior design throughout Northern Europe and Britain, and has influenced our surroundings right up to the present day.
In the 18th & 19th Centuries it was customary for well-born young men who had finished their studies to do the Grand Tour, to complete their education. A young man might spend as much as two years away, usually accompanied by a secretary and other servants. The Tour acquainted him with all the most important developments in science, architecture, politics and culture – and taught him good taste. There were visits to the excavations in Rome and Pompeii, including an ascent of Mt Vesuvius; and then the Opera. Valuable social contacts could be made at salons and balls; Grand Tourists saw pictures at the Uffizi…but there was time for Venice’s casinos too; more than one young man lost his innocence there!
What the Tourists brought home showed their greater knowledge and refined taste. Objects would be displayed prominently, becoming status symbols and subjects for further study. Architects and artists were inspired by them; interior designers too. You’ll find examples of Grand Tour Treasures like these in our collection.