The concept of the 'Grand Tour' is generally associated with aristocratic young men sowing their wild oats and picking up collections of art and antiquities with which to furnish the great houses of eighteenth-century Britain. In fact, the profile of the travellers who made the tour of Italy was considerably more varied than the caricature suggests and the purchase of artworks on a large scale was relatively uncommon. Many male travellers were accompanied by wives, daughters, sisters, or (escaping scandal at home) their mistresses and some intrepid women even travelled on their own. This lecture, given by Professor Roey Sweet, Director of the Centre for Urban History at the University of Leicester, will explore the experience of the Grand Tour from the perspective of these women and offer a rather different view of a cultural institution often seen as quintessentially masculine.
Roey Sweet has worked mainly in eighteenth-century British urban and cultural history. In 2012 she published Cities and the Grand Tour: The British in Italy 1690-1820.