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Getty Exhibition Celebrates the Eternal City on the Grand Tour

Rome on the Grand Tour
Through August 11, 2002
At the J. Paul Getty Museum

Press Preview: Tuesday, February 5, 2002, 9-11 a.m.

January 16, 2002

Los Angeles--A new exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Rome on the Grand Tour, highlights the Getty collections and focuses on Rome as an important destination for young 18th-century noblemen on the Grand Tour. It is offered along with two other exhibitions that examine aspects of this tradition--Naples and Vesuvius on the Grand Tour (through March 24, 2002) and Drawing Italy in the Age of the Grand Tour (February 5-May 12, 2002)--on view at the Getty Research Institute Exhibition Gallery and the J. Paul Getty Museum, respectively.

Independently and collectively, these exhibitions explore a tradition in which young, 18th-century European (mainly British) aristocrats traveled across Europe to reach Italy. There at the center of the former Roman Empire, they sought sources of the classical culture in which they had been educated, and manifested this quest by collecting antique and contemporary works of art.

"Rome on the Grand Tour gathers together works of all media--many displayed for the first time--from the Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute, with generous loans from the Huntington Art Collections and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art," says Deborah Gribbon, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum and vice president of the J. Paul Getty Trust. "By presenting them within a rich thematic context, we allow visitors to gain an understanding of an important European phenomenon that in many respects formed the basis for modern travel and cultural tourism."

The Eternal City

Rome is the legendary crossroads of ancient and modern culture, its history defined by the monuments of the imperial past and the splendors of the Roman Catholic Church. These would have been the perceptions of Grand Tourists as they made their way toward Rome past the slopes of Monte Mario through the northern gateway, the Porta del Popolo, and into the city. Grand Tourists were undertaking a cultural pilgrimage, and, in the process, coming of age as collectors, patrons, politicians, scholars, and socialites.

Myth-laden Rome attracted travelers with its historic and artistic wonders: the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine, the ancient forum, the catacombs, the Apollo Belvedere, Saint Peter's Basilica, and Renaissance frescoes and sculptures. "The exhibition investigates how the Grand Tour in the 18th century was an important means for eminent young travelers to acquire a canon of taste and noble ideas to be used in future civic life," notes Scott Schaefer, curator of paintings, J. Paul Getty Museum. Schaefer co-curated the exhibition with Denise Allen, associate curator of paintings, and Peggy Fogelman, senior project specialist, J. Paul Getty Museum.

The Tradition of the Grand Tour

To enable Grand Tourists to plan and undertake their journeys, new art forms were developed, such as fold-out maps, portable pocket guidebooks, and panoramic city views marked with the most important monuments. One Italian guidebook in the Getty exhibition was annotated on nearly every page with handwritten comments in English, demonstrating the usefulness of these traveler's aids. Italian and foreign artists responded to the Englishmen's love of Rome and nostalgia for its landscape by creating sumptuous paintings, drawings, and prints commemorating treasured views.

"In fact, the promise of patronage brought numerous artists to Rome, and their intense study of the art they found there--both ancient and modern--is recorded in exquisite drawings and sketchbooks," notes Fogelman. "Grand Tourists' collecting activities promoted the revival of ancient art forms, such as carved gemstones, and ensured the success of new ones, such as Wedgwood cameo wares." Ultimately, their artistic patronage and tastes stimulated a revival in classical artistic forms that gave birth to Neoclassicism, an international artistic style that incorporated principles of ancient art modernized through individual inventiveness.

Exhibition Highlights

The show features four primary themes: the maps, guidebooks, and landscape views used and collected by Grand Tourists; the paintings, colored prints, and artists' sketchbooks that illustrate the city as a vibrant setting for celebrations and for art-making; the influence of ancient sculpture on Neoclassicism; and the concept of collecting and replicating as a means of recalling and perpetuating the Grand Tour experience. "Although originating earlier, the Grand Tour culminated in the 18th century," comments Allen. "The challenging passage might take anywhere from one to eight years, and it provided a formative experience in which journey and memory were inextricably linked."

Tourists such as Lord Mountstuart and John Talbot are represented in the exhibition in spectacular full-length portraits by Jean-Étienne Liotard and Pompeo Batoni, respectively. Also on view is Giovanni Antonio Canal's (called Canaletto) painting, The Arch of Constantine with the Colosseum in the Background (about 1742-1745).

In addition to paintings, the exhibition includes printed materials that promoted and guided the journey, hand-colored prints of city views, ancient and 18th-century sculpture, and souvenir gems.

Related Events for Italy on the Grand Tour: Exhibitions Highlighting Getty Collections

All lectures, performances, and special events are free and held in the Harold M. Williams Auditorium, unless otherwise noted. Seating reservations are required. For reservations and information, please call 310-440-7300 or visit Tickets are available at the Museum Information Desk or via phone.

Take your family on a "Grand Tour" through the collections using the related Family Guide. Available in the Family Room in English or Spanish, the guide focuses on travel, as well as creating and collecting art. For families with children ages 5 and up.


The Grand Tour Series explores 18th-century travel and tastes as well as the works of art, antiquities, and individuals that were an integral part of the Grand Tour experience.

The "First City of the World": Rome and the Grand Tour
Edgar Peters Bowron, Audrey Jones Beck curator of European Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, explores the allure of the Grand Tour with a focus on 18th-century Rome and those who visited the city, their activities (sightseeing, studying, and shopping) and their response to the art and antiquities of the Eternal City.
Sunday, January 20, 4 p.m.

Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803): A Modern Pliny on the Bay of Naples
Ian Jenkins, assistant keeper, Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, The British Museum, London, examines one of the most distinguished figures of the Grand Tour, Sir William Hamilton, British Ambassador to Naples. Although often remembered as the cuckolded husband of his second wife Emma, and for her affair with Horatio Nelson, Hamilton was a passionate collector whose tastes had a profound impact upon contemporary style.
Sunday, February 10, 4 p.m.

Laughter and Unease in Rome and Naples: Some Destabilizing Encounters with Foreign Places
Chloe Chard, Getty Scholar in Residence, lectures on the role of humor and irony in British and French travel literature of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Organized by the Getty Research Institute, this lecture complements the exhibition Naples and Vesuvius on the Grand Tour.
Thursday, February 14, 4 p.m., Museum Lecture Hall

Sex and the (Eternal) City: The Grand Tour as Erotic Pilgrimage
Kevin Salatino, curator of prints and drawings, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, discusses how, for Grand Tourists and Grand Tour artists, a trip south could be as liberating sexually as it was aesthetically. The erotic drawings of several Northern artists who spent time in Italy, including Henry Fuseli and Johan Tobias Sergel, will be examined, as will the careers of other art world figures: Johann Winckelmann, Richard Payne Knight, William Hamilton, and, of course, Emma Hamilton, the most erotically charged of 18th-century sitters.
Sunday, March 3, 4 p.m.


Gordon Getty Concerts -- This ongoing series features music complementing current Museum exhibitions.

Tafelmusik's The Grand Tour: A Musical Journey
Canada's 17-member Baroque orchestra comes to the Getty with an orchestral version of the Grand Tour--a whirlwind musical adventure through London, Paris, Versailles, Rome, Venice, and Berlin featuring music by Handel, Marais, Corelli, Vivaldi, Telemann, and Bach. The orchestral odyssey includes an actor's readings of vivid contemporary anecdotes of the sights, sounds, and tastes of 18th-century Europe. Jeanne Lamon, music director.
Saturday, January 26, 8 p.m.
Tickets $28; students/seniors $22

Tafelmusik's The Grand Tour: A Musical Journey
Special Family Matinee
Tafelmusik presents a musical quest through 18th-century Europe in a program specially designed to introduce young listeners, ages 6 and up, to the magic of the Baroque period through music and storytelling. Jeanne Lamon, music director.
Sunday, January 27, 3 p.m.
Tickets $15

Living Pictures: An Evening of Music, Dance, Theater, and Spectacle
Director Michael Hackett, in collaboration with Michael Eagan and Musica Angelica, stages a series of "living pictures" inspired by the 18th-century theatrical tradition of tableaux vivants. These performances present the lively entertainments that Sir William Hamilton and the two Lady Hamiltons provided for distinguished visitors to Naples.
Saturday, March 2, 8 p.m.
Tickets $25; students/seniors $20

Artist-at-Work Demonstration

Artist Stas Orlovski demonstrates how artists used sketches of vistas and architectural details to create finished drawings. Complements the exhibition Drawing Italy in the Age of the Grand Tour.
Sundays: March 10, 17, 31, April 4, 11, and Thursdays: March 7, 14, 21, 28, April 7, 1-3 p.m., East Pavilion Art Information Room

Point-of-View Talks

Sign up at the Information Desk in the Museum Entrance Hall beginning at 4:30 p.m. Talks take place at 6 and 7:30 p.m. in the Museum galleries.

John O'Brien, artist, curator, teacher, and art critic, discusses the history and modern permutations of the Grand Tour.
Friday, March 15

Family Festival

The Family Festival presents a wide array of interactive workshops and performances inspired by the Grand Tour, including Italian folk and classical music, a reenactment of The Odyssey, and a chance to make Venetian carnival masks. Produced by Community Arts Resources.
Sunday, March 24, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Museum Courtyard


Italy's 18th Century: Gender and Politics in the Age of the Grand Tour
Co-sponsored by the Getty Research Institute, the UCLA Center for Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Studies, and the Clark Library, this two-day conference brings together international scholars whose research positions 18th-century Italy as a significant place from which to view cultural developments, and highlights the importance of gender in understanding Italian art, literature, music, and science.

Paper sessions take place at the Getty Center on Friday, April 19, and at the UCLA Clark Library on Saturday, April 20. Advance conference registration is required through UCLA's Center for Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Studies; for information call 310-206-8552. A Getty Center parking reservation will be made for participants at the time they call UCLA to register.

Drawing Italy in the Age of the Grand Tour
Naples and Vesuvius on the Grand Tour

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About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

Sign up for e-Getty at to receive free monthly highlights of events at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa via e-mail, or visit our event calendar for a complete calendar of public programs.

The J. Paul Getty Museum collects in seven distinct areas, including Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts, and European and American photographs. The Museum's mission is to make the collection meaningful and attractive to a broad audience by presenting and interpreting the works of art through educational programs, special exhibitions, publications, conservation, and research.