Impact of the Grand Tours

Following the example of the Earl of Arundel and Inigo Jones in the early seventeenth century, the English Virtuosi started visiting Italy and collecting works of art; later these visits developed into the 'Grand Tour', an established feature in the education of an English gentleman. The fame of the rich English was characterized by the Roman saying: 'Were our Amphitheatre portable, the English would carry it off!'3 Travellers also founded special societies: in 1717 the Society of Antiquaries,4 and, in 1734, the Society of Dilettanti. At the beginning, the interest was mainly oriented toward classical studies, but later especially the Antiquaries paid increasing attention to native antiquities in England, and the members came to play an important role in their preservation. From 1770 onward, a number of publications were prepared on mediaeval buildings and monuments by authors such as Rev. Michael Young, Rev. G. D. Whittington, Rev. John Milner, Richard Gough, John Carter, James Dallaway, Thomas Rickman, and John Britton. The most influential English patron and connoisseur to tour in Italy was Richard Boyle, the third Earl of Burlington, who was introduced into the revival of classical architecture by Colen Campbell and his Vitruvius Britannicus (1715-16). In Rome, he met

William Kent, who remained his life-long friend and helped to bring Palladianism into England. In 1754, the Scottish architect Robert Adam set off from Edinburgh for his Grand Tour through the continent to Italy, where he stayed until 1758. He worked together with the French architect Charles-Louis Clerisseau making careful measured drawings in Rome and other parts of Italy as well as in Split. This experience gave Adam a large stock of architectural elements. These he put into full use contributing to the initiation of neo-classicism in England.

Exploratory missions in search of antiquities extended to the Levant and Greece, then part of the Ottoman Empire. Since the visit of Cyriac d'Ancona to Athens in 1436, few travellers had been able to undertake this journey. In the 1620s, Thomas Howard, second Earl of Arundel, declared his ambition 'to transplant old Greece into England' (Peacham 1634:107) and though encountering great difficulties, he managed to acquire a considerable collection of statues, fragments of reliefs and other antiquities from Greece, some from the Altar of Pergamon. These so-called 'Arundel marbles' were restored by French and Italian restorers, and part of the collection was later brought to Oxford. In 1674, the Acropolis was visited by M. Olier de Nointel, the French Ambassador to the Sublime Porte, who commissioned Jacques Carrey (1649-1726) to prepare drawings of the pediments of the Parthenon. These became the earliest reliable records of the building and an invaluable document before subsequent damage (de Laborde, 1854,1:128; Bowie and Thimme, 1971). Two years later, in 1676, a French physician, Jacques Spon, and an Englishman, George Wheler, visited Athens on their journey from Venice to Dalmatia and Greece. The Parthenon, then a mosque but still well preserved, they considered without doubt the finest building in the world. Spon had already studied ancient monuments, and the architectural descriptions in his account, printed in 1678, were certainly more accurate than those by his English companion published four years later.

These early descriptions acquired special importance due to the destruction that occurred during the Turkish-Venetian war in 1687.5 The Parthenon with its strong walls had been used by the Turks as a store for gunpow der and as a refuge for women and children. When Francesco Morosini, commander in chief of the Venetian fleet, learnt about the powder magazine, he ordered the Parthenon to be bombarded. On the evening of 28 September 1687, the flank of the temple was hit, and the whole central part collapsed in the explosion. After the Venetians withdrew, the Turks fortified the Acropolis. The little temple of Athena Nike, Wingless Victory, was dismantled and used for the construction of ramparts in front of the Propylaea. A small mosque was built inside the ruined Parthenon.

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