Grand Tour Centerpiece Paris France Landmarks Reverse Painted Mother Pearl
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A fantastic antique 19th century European "Grand Tour" centerpiece crafted of detailed and high relief gilt brass of undulating oval form with a pair of circular handles, tassel adorn the rim, raised on four stylized feet, centered with an impressive size oval form reverse painted mother of pearl embellished 18th century scene of Arc de Triomphe, complemented with eight additional smaller round reverse painted Paris landmark scenes, each colorfully reverse painted also accented with hints scintillating mother of pearl. In the collective 50 years that we have been in the antique business we have never encountered such and fantastic and enchanting piece. It is that rare that once we sell it we probably never will see its like especially in such pristine condition. This is a must have addition to any fine European or French decorative art collection and would make for a dazzling conversation piece.
SIZE: 11" Length x 9" Width x 3 1/4" Height.
CONDITION: Some minor wear to the gilt finish, missing some tassels, otherwise excellent condition.
Grand Tour Background:
Young English elites of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries often spent two to four years traveling around Europe in an effort to broaden their horizons and learn about language, architecture, geography, and culture in an experience known as the Grand Tour. The Grand Tour began in the sixteenth century and gained popularity during the seventeenth century.
The term Grand Tour was introduced by Richard Lassels in his 1670 book Voyage to Italy. Additional guidebooks, tour guides, and the tourist industry were developed and grew to meet the needs of the 20-something male and female travelers and their tutors across the European continent. The young tourists were wealthy and could afford the multiple years abroad. They carried letters of reference and introduction with them as they departed from southern England.
The most common crossing of the English Channel (La Manche) was made from Dover to Calais, France (the route of the Channel Tunnel today). A trip from Dover across the Channel to Calais and onto Paris customarily took three days. The crossing of the Channel was not an easy one. There were risks of seasickness, illness, and even shipwreck.
The Grand Tourists were primarily interested in visiting those cities that were considered the major centers of culture at the time - Paris, Rome, and Venice were not to be missed. Florence and Naples were also popular destinations. The Grand Tourist would travel from city to city and usually spend weeks in smaller cities and up to several months in the three key cities. Paris was definitely the most popular city as French was the most common second language of the British elite, the roads to Paris were excellent, and Paris was a most impressive city to the English.
A Tourist would not carry much money due to the risk of highway robbers so letters of credit from their London banks were presented at the major cities of the Grand Tour. Many Tourists spent a great deal of money abroad and due to these expenditures outside of England, some English politicians were very much against the institution of the Grand Tour.
Arriving in Paris a Tourist would usually rent an apartment for weeks to several months. Day trips from Paris to the French countryside or to Versailles (the home of the French monarchy) were quite common. Visiting French and Italian royalty and British envoys was a popular pastime during the Tour. The homes of envoys were often utilized as hotels and food pantries which annoyed the envoys but there wasn't much they could do about such inconveniences brought on by their citizens. While apartments were rented in major cities, in smaller towns the inns were often harsh and dirty.
From Paris, Tourists would proceed across the Alps or take a boat on the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. For those who made their way across the Alps, Turin was the first Italian city they'd come to and some remained while others simply passed through on their way to Rome or Venice. Rome was initially the southernmost point they would travel. However, when excavations began of Herculaneum (1738) and Pompeii (1748), the two sites became major destinations on the Grand Tour.
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- 19th Cent.
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