Grand Tour. Sogno d’Italia da Venezia a Pompei
The exhibition, under the High Patronage of the Presidency of the Republic and in partnership with the National Archaeological Museum of Naples and the State Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg, presents around 130 works from the Intesa Sanpaolo collection, private collections and numerous Italian and international cultural institutions, such as the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, The National Gallery, London, Musée du Louvre, Paris, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, the Victoria Albert Museum, London, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, Gallerie degli Uffizi, Florence, the Capitoline Museums of Rome, the Vatican Museum of the Vatican City, and Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte. Two works have also been loaned from the United Kingdom, from the Royal Collection of Queen Elisabeth II, in addition to other works from royal residences including the Royal Palaces of Versailles, Caserta and Pavlovsk, in St. Petersburg.
Curated by Fernando Mazzocca alongside Stefano Grandesso and Francesco Leone, this exhibition is made up of works sourced from all over the world and selected following in-depth research. On one hand, its aim is to provide a representation of a composite Italy of overwhelming beauty, to the extent that it is depicted by artists as a suspended place, a stratification of memory and knowledge, a still image of history; and on the other, to present documentation of the protagonists who gave rise to the myth of the “Bel Paese”.
The Grand Tour was an extraordinary phenomenon and universal in its character. It was decisive in forging a perception of Italy, linked to the beauty of its landscapes and art, still of great interest today, which makes the country’s identity truly unique. Between the end of the seventeenth and the first half of the nineteenth century, Italy was the destination of choice for academics, artists, young noblemen, European aristocrats and intellectuals. Only in Italy could classical culture culminate in a complete synthesis of nature and history. The Grand Tour (the expression was used for the first time in 1697, in Lassel’s work, An Italian Voyage) soon came to be considered an essential moment of an educational and formative path, as well as a sign of a precise social status.
Italy was a fundamental destination for artists and academics with a passion for architecture, painting and sculpture, both ancient and modern. In the eighteenth century, the extraordinary archaeological discoveries of Herculaneum and Pompei raised further interest in the country. Places are vested with a particular sense of importance (traditional cities like Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples, and ancient towns), as are landscapes (from the Alps, to Vesuvius and Etna). Festivities, carnival, theatre and music inspired pictorial celebration, while sculpture recounted archaeology and the cult of antiquity, definitively established by Winckelmann.
Rome was undoubtedly the main destination of the Grand Tour, the universal and eternal city. Naples, equally unmissable, offered a gateway into antiquity, whilst remote and unknown Sicily held witness to Ancient Greece. Other favourite destinations included Venice for its bustling character, Vicenza for the geniality of its architecture, Florence for wonders of Renaissance and Milan, for the legacy of Leonardo.
At Gallerie d’Italia, paintings, sculptures and art objects are displayed in thought-provoking dialogue, heightening this exhibition’s relevance in current times and contributing to its aim to repurpose the image of Italy as it was dreamed of and loved by in an Europe that recognised itself through its common roots, forged over the centuries.
The catalogues of the exhibition, published by Edizioni Gallerie d’Italia | Skira, will contain essays and scientific sheets with updates on such studies.