Beyond Rome the Grand Tourist was drawn to Naples with the promise of recent

Beyond rome the grand tourist was drawn to naples

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Beyond Rome, the Grand Tourist was drawn to Naples with the promise of recent archeological discoveries such as Herculaneum and Pompeii.The bronzes, marbles, inscriptions, coins, papyruses, and all sorts of quotidian objects dug up were stored in the closed cabinets of Carlos III’s “Museo Ercolense” at Portici. By 1755, the king established an academy to care for the finds and their eventual publication.When the more easily excavatable site at Pompeii was gradually unearthed in the 1760s, it offered the Grand Tourist the opportunity to contextualize a mental image of the classical world in actual environments. Direct experience of Herculaneum’s objects and Pompeii’s spaces was disorienting for most early visitors.The fresh, unfiltered impressions fell so far outside the prevailing aesthetic that most of the unearthed artifacts were deemed negligible. Carlos III, who had aspirations to utilize the finds in interior decorations, was paradoxically responsible for their meager immediate impact. He 63 the challenge of tradition, 1750–1900
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imposed strict rules on the visitor to the Bourbon museums and archeological sites: sketching was prohibited and time was limited. The academy he established exercised a monopoly on all visual imagery and was slow to publish the six volumes of Le Antichità di Ercolano. Moreover, they were not for sale but, like Carlos’s other publicity folio on Caserta, were proffered as calculated diplomatic gestures. Only when Ferdinando IV transferred the treasures to Naples, refitting the old university building for the purpose in 1777, could one identify the birth of a real public archeological museum. Archeology, if it can be so called under Bourbon rule, was placed in the service of governing and had scant effect on contemporary architectural imagination. Grand Tourists to Naples continued on to Paestum.The Doric temples of the ancient Greek colony were not well known but had not been entirely forgotten. Carlos III thought of purloining their columns for a royal palace project, but the very stout proportions of their archaic order did not appeal to his taste, nor to anyone else’s until Soufflot approached them, free of prejudice, in 1750. Only Soufflot was able to get permission to draw there on site; others had to content themselves with the engravings and cork models tendered exclusively through the king’s authorized dealers. The Doric appealed almost exclusively to foreign visitors at first. Piranesi, evidently the only Italian ready for such a jolt, ventured in the last year of his life to prepare a publication of Paestum views that was published in French in 1778. Johann Wolfgang Goethe, visiting nine years later, confessed a certain stupefaction before the stones, which he didn’t immediately recognize as architecture at all.“Our eyes and, through them, our whole sensibility have become so conditioned to a more slender style of architecture that these crowded masses of stumpy conical columns appear offensive and even terrifying.” It proved hard to “see” the Doric order of the Paestum
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  • Spring '17
  • Archt. De Veyra

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