Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery
In a historical sense, the Grand Tour was a seventeenth to eighteenth century phenomenon in which the young, usually male and aristocratic, members of English and Northern European families visited great cities and societies of the continent. It was an educational trip, meant largely for cultural exposure and refinement. Art was central to this travel in a number of ways, from visiting masterpieces of painting and architecture, to commissioning portraits and buying art to bring home, to engaging an artist for the journey who would paint the sublime beauty of each destination.
This exhibition explores a moment from approximately 1880 to 1960 when American artists endeavored to follow in the footsteps of this tradition and trek to Europe for a variety of reasons: study and opportunities to exhibit, illustration on commission, war, and leisure. At the center of their journeys was also the goal of education, for themselves through the process of travel and study and for others through the skills, cultural enlightenment, and artwork they would bring home. The artists included worked a range of media, from printmaking to painting, and their work documents the architecture, scenery, and people of Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Greece, England, and France as they saw it.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website