Grand Tour. Sogno d’Italia da Venezia a Pompei

Gallerie d'Italia, Milano

The Intesa Sanpaolo Gallerie d’Italia museum in Piazza della Scala in Milan welcomes the first exhibition conceived and created in Italy about the international phenomenon of the Grand Tour.

From Friday 19 November to 27 March 2022, visitors will be able to enjoy: “Grand Tour. Sogno d’Italia da Venezia a Pompei”, an exhibition of exceptional value in terms of art, history and identity, which will feature 130 works from major collections in Italy and abroad.

Under the High Patronage of the President of the Italian Republic, and in partnership with the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg and the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, the exhibition is curated by Fernando Mazzocca, supported by Stefano Grandesso and Francesco Leone, and coordinated by Gianfranco Brunelli.

The Grand Tour was an extraordinary global phenomenon that played a decisive role in shaping a perception of Italy forged by the beauty of its milieu and art, that helps give our country its truly unique identity.

This was the name given to an educational and culturally enriching journey undertaken by young, cultured aristocrats from across Europe between the late seventeenth century and the first half of the nineteenth. On this tour, Italy – home to an endless trove of natural, artistic and architectural marvels, both today and back then – was a beloved and essential destination.

The educational tour – de rigueur for the European elite as well as their contemporaries from other continents – attracted sovereigns, aristocrats, politicians, clergymen, scholars and artists, all of them fascinated by Italy’s untainted landscapes, majestic cities, archaeological finds, monuments and artworks.

The travellers were also passionate collectors, particularly of ancient sculpture following the fashion inspired by Winckelmann; his impassioned writings had revealed to all the secrets of perfection achieved by the Greeks, as seen in masterpieces from the great aristocratic collections of Rome and Florence.

For many years Italy was the largest market not only for ancient art, but also for the contemporary output inspired by memories of antiquity.

This inspired an impressive revival of the most prestigious artistic workmanship, with bronzes and jewellery, mosaics and glyptics reaching the very heights of the Renaissance.

Painting received a new impetus thanks to the demand from foreign collectors, particularly in a genre once considered inferior – views and landscapes. Artists of unique grandeur, such as Canaletto and Bellotto, and the foreigners who followed in the travellers’ wake, including Hackert, Volaire and Granet, reached unparalleled heights between the 18th and 19th centuries, moving from the scientific rationale of the vedutisti to the emotion of the landscape as an expression of the soul by the Romantics.

A significant change was also seen in the new historical painting, thanks to masters such as Mengs and Angelika Kauffmann, in both form and content, with mythology and ancient history becoming examples of virtue or inviting deep moral reflection.

As well as views of the places they had visited, the genre most requested and loved by foreign collectors was portraiture. The celebration of one’s status was replaced by the glorification of character and culture. This led to collectors being depicted next to the monuments and ancient sculptures they had admired in Italy. The outright master of the field was Batoni, one of the greatest portraitists of all time. His portraits were a status symbol, as were works by his rival Mengs, by the two female painters Vigée Lebrun and Angelica Kauffmann, and by Zoffany, Fabre, Gérard and Ingres.

As time went by, the Grand Tour became its own legend; the most famous of its many protagonists (including Goethe and Stendhal) ended up being depicted on their own Tours in portraits by artists such as Batoni, Hamilton and Tischbein.

Travellers were attracted by the unique nature of our traditions and the beauty of an apparently carefree people who lived most of the year outdoors thanks to our mild climate.

The greatest business lay in sculpture, particularly the trade in ancient marbles, their restoration and reproductions. Thanks to Canova and his worthy disciples, the late 1700s saw the emergence of original sculptures that, although inspired by antiquity, reflected modern sensibilities, ensuring extraordinary fortunes for this art form – the pride of Italy – around the world in the 19th century.

The evocative array of paintings, engravings, sculptures and objets d’art in this timely exhibit at Gallerie d’Italia is designed to recreate an image of Italy so beloved and desired by a Europe that identified with its common roots, and for which Italy served as the great atelier for centuries.

from 19.11.2021 to 27.03.2022
Opening hours
from 09:30 AM to 7:30 PM
Thursday: from 9:30 to 22:30.
Closed on Mondays.
Last admission one hour before closing.

We suggest you to buy tickets online

– Full-price ticket: 10,00€
– Reduced ticket: 8,00€
– Special reduced ticket: 5,00€
– Free admission for schools, under 18s, employees of the Intesa Sanpaolo Group.

For more information on prices.