The cities of the Grand Tour; the image of the city and architecture in Europe (rooms 1 and 2)
The aristocrats who went on the Grand Tour, spurred among other aspects by the appeal of the classical ruins and archaeological discoveries, followed set itineraries with compulsory stays in cities such as Venice, Rome, Florence and Naples. A key figure in shaping the image of three of these cities was Gaspar van Wittel, who left his mark on those who came after him and whose footsteps were followed by artists such as Luca Carlevarijs, Canaletto, Michele Marieschi, Antonio Joli, Francesco Guardi and Bernardo Bellotto. The views of St Mark’s Square and its surroundings, the Grand Canal and the bridge of Rialto in Venice, the harbour and other parts of Naples, the Eternal City seen from the Tiber, and remodelled places such as St Peter’s, the Piazza Navona and the port of Ripetta were transformed into portraits and picture postcards which enjoyed great success on the market and with collectors.
Gaspar van Wittel (Amersfoort, 1652/1653-Rome, 1736) Piazza Navona
- Oil on canvas
- 96.5 x 216 cm
- Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on deposit in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; inv. CTB.1978.83
Interest in city views was spread across Europe by these same artists—Canaletto in Britain, Bernardo Bellotto on his passage through the most refined Central European courts and Antonio Joli during his stay in Madrid. This trend was espoused by other artists in their depictions of their own cities, such as Raguenet in his view of Paris.
Antonio Joli (Modena, 1700-Naples, 1777) View of the Calle de Alcalá, Madrid
- Oil on canvas
- 81 x 139 cm
- Duques de Alba Collection; inv. P. 559
Architectural painting with the city as the subject matter was also used to record the events which took place in it. Depictions of festivities, a blend of propaganda and historical memory, bear witness to the events staged in Rome—in the Piazza di Spagna and St Peter’s in the Vatican—or Venice, in the Grand Canal and the tidal basin where regattas and the Bucintoro celebrations took place.