The Grand Tour: the 18thC gap year
With the increased interest in history and the visual arts in the 17th and 18th Century and as travel became easier, young gentlemen of means were sent out for what we would nowadays call a "gap year" - although these journeys could last as much as three to five years.
The destination was the great cities of Europe, and in particular Italy with its newly excavated cultural treasures. Young gentlemen would spend time in Rome, Florence and Venice and visit sites such as Pompeii and Etruria. In keeping with this trend Wedgwood even called their new Staffordshire factory Etruria!
The young lads would be educated here in the cultural history of Europe. Having already learned Greek and Latin at school, this became an essential part of education. And, no doubt, in preparation for producing heirs to their family fortunes they would also learn a few tricks in the red light districts of famous cities such as Naples... but they probably wouldn't write home about that 😜
The lads would come home with trunks full of treasures they bought, commissioned or looted, and this formed the basis of many of the British cultural treasures both in the museums and stately homes. Not only did people love seeing and discussing these treasures; it influenced British design and we can see this in the architecture, art and porcelain designs of this era This style became so prominent that today great auction houses such as Bonhams even put on special sales themed around the Grand Tour.
Today I have a stunning tea service that was made at the top of this fashion. It was made by Flight & Barr / Barr, Flight & Barr. These are both the same factory, but it changed its name in 1804, around the time this set was made. The service has the fashionable deep peach colour that this factory was so good at, and it has rich gilding: a vermicelli pattern all over, and a bold band of Greek keys inspired by the Greek and Roman treasures the young gentleman would have gushed about upon return from their journey.
While the ladies back home had been at home busy perfecting their embroidery, piano playing and painting skills, at least they got to buy beautiful Grand Tour-inspired teaware. And what better for an eligible gentleman than drink his tea from this service while trying to impress a beautiful lady back home?
Where to find things
This stunning tea service is for sale in my shop and you can find it here. All my available stock can be found here. And if you always want to see the latest additions, follow me on Instagram... I post pictures and a story every single day.
Wish List ❤️
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Happy weekend, and love live the gap year! 🏺🏛⚱️
This week's new treasures: