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During the second half of the eighteenth-century, a journey to Italy was considered an essential component in the education of young artists and noblemen from Northern Europe. Although Venice and Florence were requisite stops on the journey, artists tended to make their longest stay in Rome, and they generally also spent time in Naples.
Both cities offered celebrated archeological sites and a taste of the unspoiled rural life of the campagna. Working outdoors, artists recorded their observations of these natural and man-made wonders in small-scale studies, mostly executed with oil paint on paper. In these oils, painters captured the grandiosity of Rome’s classical ruins and the sublime natural beauty of Naples, with its famous view of Mount Vesuvius. Artists from France, Belgium, Germany, Norway, and Sweden are featured in this selection.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
For anyone interested in the history of art, architecture, and photography, the Romantic poets, and other writers from Byron to Henry James, City of the Soul: Rome and the Romantics will delight, as it critically examines how an international cast of visitors fashioned Rome’s image, visual and literary, in the century between 1770 and 1870 — from the era of the Grand Tour to the onset of mass tourism. The Eternal City emerges not only as an intensely physical place but also as a romantic idea onto which artists and writers projected their own imaginations and longings. The book will also interest historians of urbanism, landscape, and Italy.
Nonspecialists and armchair travelers alike will enjoy the diverse literary and artistic responses to Rome.
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