Souvenirs of the Grand Tour

The 18th-century Grand Tour of Europe stimulated a fascination in the ancient world for those who undertook it, particularly among those who had visited on-going excavations and witnessed antiquities emerging from tombs. Wedgwood and Bentley’s products were designed to remind their clients of such things, examples of the ‘old civilisations’ which, paradoxically, made them into novelties. These souvenirs answered the 18th-century craze for the antique which expressed itself in many ways. Collectors spent hours poring over their treasures; the fashionable surrounded themselves with personal and domestic items which carried echoes of the classical world.

‘I only pretend to have attempted to copy the fine antique forms, but not with absolute servility. I have endeavoured to preserve the style & spirit or if you please the elegant simplicity of antique forms, & in so doing to introduce all the variety I was able’, Josiah wrote to Dr. Erasmus Darwin in June 1789  

 

Images

A jasper ruined column vase, reflecting the Grand Tourists' passion for reminders of the classical

A jasper ruined column vase, reflecting the Grand Tourists' passion for reminders of the classical