AH40550 The Grand Tour

Academic Year 2023/2024

Collecting on the Grand Tour: the lure of the antique

This module explores the lure of the antique during the Golden Age of the Grand Tour in Rome. During the eighteenth and into the nineteenth centuries, Rome became its principal focus, reflected in the sheer numbers of visitors to the Caput Mundi and the fervent acquisition of antiquities. In parallel, as architecture became an aristocratic pursuit, the nobility and gentry applied what they learned from the evocative ruins of Rome to their town and country houses across northern Europe: some would become leading authorities on classical architecture at the dawn of the neo-classical and Gothic revivals, with the Grand Tour as a major catalyst. Reflecting on the physical evidence of the art and architecture of the ancient city of Rome, and on the manner in which the city and its culture was depicted and understood in a burgeoning print culture, the reception and afterlife among the collections of grand houses in Britain and Ireland will be a central focus. This approach, by way of alternate contrasts of ancient and modern perceptions, will assist in the appraisal of Rome’s enduring influence. The work of the artists such as Giovanni Paolo Panini, Pompeo Batoni and Giambattista Piranesi will be a particular focus, as well as the presence in Rome of Irish artists and society figures such as Hugh Douglas Hamilton and Edward Dodwell.

Each Student will gain a detailed understanding of the key elements of the Grand Tour, from identifying the key monuments the history, literature and imagery of the city of Rome and to reflect on the physical evidence of the art and architecture of the ancient city, as on the manner in which Rome was depicted and understood in the early modern period. Students will gain a familiarity with the archaeological sites in Rome, Pompeii and Herculaneum and further afield as well as building a profile of the architectural structure of the city, to include public and civic as well as domestic, recreational and religious buildings. The material decoration and classical detailing of these buildings will be examined, and the course will also aim to consider the influence of imperial patronage and architectural influence on the built environment of ancient Rome. Students will develop an understanding of iconography, imagery and perception of Rome from the sixteenth through to the eighteenth century, when a lasting impression of the city was created in the artistic movement that grew out of travel and the Grand Tour, through to the nineteenth century travellers and artists who perpetuated the myth of Rome and who created social networks in the salon, galleries with the Caput Mundi as a scenographic backdrop .

Students will also appreciate the dissemination of the architectural ideas in great moments such as Neoclassicism and in the physical collection and display of objects The culture of collecting in Ireland was already well established by 1749 and it is suggested here that the display of antiquities enjoyed equal significance as the subject matter and artefacts did in representing the classical past and carried with them the expressed interest in educating the next generation of scholars. Students will investigate beyond the structured landscapes and formal gardens, the houses would contain designated architectural spaces in the form of entrance vestibules, courtyards, pavilions garden temples ornamented with classical sculpture; and moreover libraries with their contents of classical books left open and displayed as a first means of dissemination; and whole rooms dedicated with display cabinets of curiosities, or kunstkammer: this was part of the showcasing of the classical world as a part of the scene setting of the private domain of the great house. Students will examine from the private to the public realm the objects on display in the capital city Dublin in the eighteenth century, appear to have come from a more international sphere with the focus of consumption more broad from a dedicated classical orientation to a more global position to include Southeast Asian, Oceanic and Chinese artefacts in the material culture on public display. This should be emphasised as the reach of the trade and travellers went far beyond Europe and the Grand Tour to more exotic locations during the eighteenth century.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

1. Explain and the setting of Italy and Rome and developments in art-collecting practices in Ireland between 1750 and 1900;
2. Demonstrate awareness of how the art market and patronage impacted artistic style and subject matter;
3. Assess the role of institutions in commissioning and displaying works of art;
4. Present, orally and in written form, analyses of relevant objects and literature;
5.Engage critically with the primary sources and secondary literature.

Indicative Module Content:

Ancient Rome and the Grand Tourist;
Mapping of Rome;
Key Monuments;
Lure of the Antique;
Collecting and Curating of Antiquities;
Dissemination of Architectural Styles

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Small Group


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Teaching and learning is based on small group activities with lectures supplemented by student led discussion
weekly sessions with an emphasis on theoretical learning
site visits and analysing scholarly texts will also be a central feature 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Class Test: Visual Slide Test Week 12 n/a Graded No


Assignment: Essay based on a short Presentation Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 1 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

The students will be asked to complete a essay based on a previously prepared oral presentation with a visual class test at the last week

Name Role
Assoc Professor Philip Cottrell Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Aleksandra Gajowy Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Robin Usher Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Tues 14:00 - 16:50