The Grand Tour: Guest Post by Tim Berge

Painting of Vesuvius from Posillipo by Joesph Wright

As a means of perpetuating the legacy of and appreciation for classical antiquity and the Renaissance, wealthy young men of the 18th century would leave their home country on a guided tour --a "Grand Tour"-- through much of mainland Europe. At every stop along the journey they would participate in the variety of culture and fashions offered as well as view classic works of art and architecture. These tours were considered a rite of passage in the education of a young man and could last from several months up to several years.

IU Libraries recently acquired a new resource from Adam Matthew Digital documententing and retracing these eighteenth century travels. Drawing on materials from the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, The British Library, the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, and the Special Collections at the Durham University Library, The Grand Tour takes us over the Swiss Alps, through the canals of Venice and into the travel journals of James Fenimoore Cooper, Charles Swinburne and Mariana Starke, among others. Along with a number of both primary and secondary documents, there is a wealth of visual material including interactive maps tracing the journey, paintings and sketches done by the travelers, and contemporary photographs of cities visited. This new resource provides insight into the way European cultures interacted and how that interaction shaped the intellectual sensibilities of the artists and writers of the time.