Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, V&A

 Ocean Liners - Speed and Style review: This V&A show will float your boat
Wednesday 31 January 2018 09:45

The one ocean liner most of us are able to identify is, alas, one that sank: the Titanic.

Still, despite that PR misfortune — or possibly because of it — the notion of ocean travel, especially by steamship, is still invested with irresistible glamour. The great ships were little worlds in themselves, with inutterable glamour and style at the top and more cramped class solidarity in steerage.

Think of the marine bit of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and then the episode in the film Brooklyn where our heroine is sick in a bucket, mid-Atlantic, in third class.

This exhibition at the V&A is the most comprehensive ever about international ocean liners. That, I know, doesn’t sound like much of a fun gig for those Londoners who know next to nothing about the sea, whose reflexive mode of transport is a plane and who think of cruises (the sad descendants of the liners) as floating prisons for the Saga generation (I know of one American whose solution to parental care is to stick his elderly father on one transatlantic cruise after another).

But stop it right there. Ocean liners — ships that actually ran to schedule rather than turning up at their destination as the weather allowed —  were not just incidentally interesting: they were crucial for shipping more than 11 million emigrants from Europe to America from 1900 until the First World War; they were militarily important; considered vital for national prestige and maintaining empires; economically crucial for cities dependent on shipbuilding; and, just as important, as a way of promoting design in response to the constraints of space and motion. This exhibition has some 200 artefacts and finishes with a wooden panel from the first-class lounge of the Titanic, split where the ship broke in half and floating mournfully on water as it once did on the Atlantic.

It’s bookended by two ships:  Brunel’s groundbreaking Great Eastern of 1859 (the Brits led the way on steamships), which transformed ocean travel, to the Queen Elizabeth II of 1969, which brought the era of great ocean-going passenger shipping to a close. Between these two vessels a whole transport culture is on display, from fabulous posters for the liners to contemporary film clips — such as Hitler on the Nazi steamship the Johannes Rey, or a moving chronicle of the strength and skill of Clyde shipbuilders.

Pride of place goes to interiors from great ships of the nations such as the Normandie. She was the showgirl of the French fleet, “a floating fragment of the country” and an exhibition space for French handiwork — including the fabulous Art Deco lacquer panels by Jean Dunand for the first-class smoking room, depicting streamlined youths at play. Requisitioned in the war by the Americans, the ship sank after too much water was used to douse a fire on board.

What was the appeal of ocean liners? They were a contained world: for the duration of your voyage you were in a limited space with a defined cast of characters, like Murder on the Orient Express without the homicide.

Or, as a spritely Cunard brochure of 1929, The New Art of Going Abroad, put it, “Life aboard ship is a little world between two worlds… a week of existence suddenly cast adrift.”
Jules Verne in his novel A Floating City, put it thus: “If the Great Eastern is not merely a nautical engine but rather a microcosm, and carries a small world with it, an observer will not be astonished to meet here, as on a large theatre, all the instincts, follies, and passions of human nature.” Which is why ocean liners were so good for film, from Buster Keaton to The Poseidon Adventure.

The shipping companies’ steely focus on wealthy travellers was directly influenced by the US government, which in 1921 imposed restrictions on the immigrants allowed to enter the US. At a stroke, the composition of passengers changed from a majority in steerage to a more even distribution of classes and the creation of the new “tourist” class.

An interesting picture of the cross- section of one ship shows the respective accommodation for the classes: third class was respectable if not showy.  As for the fabulous promotional material on display here, it was directed at pleasure-seeking travellers for whom the journey was summed up by the Cunard motto of the Twenties: “Getting There is Half the Fun!”

For designers, liners were an obvious showcase. Many engaged with the challenges posed by limitations of space and motion. Le Corbusier was an enthusiast for the form (showing the upper classes could cope in a confined space) but for others it was an exhibition area: as with Doris Zinkeisen’s lively theatrical mural shown here for the famous Verandah Grill on the Queen Mary.
Restricted space meant the striking Madonna of the Atlantic altarpiece for the salon on the Queen Mary, used on Sunday by Catholics, could be covered by panels for secular use. There was a pretty Torah ark too.

The children were also looked after: there’s a charming mural here by Edward Ardizzone for the play area of the Canberra. Ceramics designers made services with an emphasis on solidity: plates with raised sides to prevent slopping and glasses with solid bases. There’s a beautiful cane bunk bed, with space-saving drawers that open as steps.

But oh, the clothes! For the occasions liners offered for display, from the entrance on board to the grand descent that first-class passengers made down the steps to dinner — brilliantly evoked here — the curators raided the V&A’s own dressing-up box and came up with some fabulous pieces, from Marlene Dietrich’s Dior suit, which she wore on the Queen Elizabeth, to a Lanvin Twenties dress belonging to the heiress Emilie Grigsby.

But, as with the Titanic, there were tragedies at sea. After the Titanic panel, the most poignant item on show is the tiara that Lady Marguerite Allan took on the Lusitania, which her maid rescued when the vessel was torpedoed. Her two daughters were lost.

Ocean Liners: Speed and Style is at the V&A, SW7 from Saturday until June 10;

The luxury liner SS Normandie sits off the piers in New York in 1935.
Photograph: Collection French Lines

A photograph of the RMS Titanic’s propellers as the ship sits in dry dock. The ship was sunk by an iceberg on its maiden voyage in 1912.
Photograph: John Parrot/Getty Images

Detail of riveters from the 1940s series Shipbuilding on the Clyde by Stanley Spencer.
Photograph: Imperial War Museums

Breezy and buoyant return to a more glamorous age - Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, V&A
 Alastair Sooke, art critic
31 JANUARY 2018 • 12:01AM

If, like me, the idea of going on a cruise fills you with dread – the prospect of being tossed about at the whim of a wild and unforgiving sea is too much for my lily-livered, landlubber’s constitution – then the V&A’s latest exhibition, Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, will hold little appeal.

It would be a mistake, however, to rule it out. The first show ever devoted to the design of ocean liners, spanning a period from the 1840s to the 1960s, it is full of fascinating moments, and animated throughout by a breezy, buoyant spirit.

The latter is most evident in the design of the exhibition, itself, which plays upon a central conceit: that, as we navigate the show, we are “on board” a ship. To begin with, though, we remain on dry land, in a section called “Promotion” – after all, before embarking on a voyage, you need to buy a ticket.

Facing us, beside a spectacular promotional model of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, realised with extraordinary detail at 1:48 scale, is a wall of striking posters, designed to drum up trade for the shipping lines. At a stroke, we discover the great coup of public relations that transformed perceptions of the ocean liner.

To one side, a drab leaflet from around 1874 reproduces a forgettable wood engraving of a steamship, advertising a White Star line from Liverpool to New York. It is a reminder that, during the middle years of the 19th century, steamship travel was still seen as uncomfortable and dangerous. Mostly it was marketed, cheaply and perfunctorily, at third-class passengers to fill the steerage decks. This catered for millions of poor emigrants who left behind Europe for America. By the final quarter of the 19th century, though, the strategy of the shipping lines had changed, and fashionable graphic artists were being commissioned to lure a different sort of passenger, who preferred to travel first class. By the Twenties and Thirties, often described as the “golden age” of steamship travel, this PR transformation was complete, and the ocean liner was acknowledged as an emblem of sleek, glamorous modernity, on a par with the American skyscraper.

Following this introduction “ashore”, we walk across a gangplank, and make our way “aboard” the main body of the exhibition, where we are greeted by ship interiors from the early 20th century.

At this point, designers were still following the model of grand European hotels, and even palaces. Opulent doors and panelling, from about 1912, which once adorned the France, the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique’s largest ship, were designed explicitly to evoke sumptuous interiors at Versailles. There is also an ornate carved wooden panel, depicting two allegorical figures, which provided a decorative centrepiece for the 60ft-high grand staircase of the Olympic. (An identical carving on the Olympic’s ill-fated sister ship, the Titanic, was reproduced, with surprising fidelity, for James Cameron’s 1997 Oscar-winning movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.)

As well as inviting us to gawp at the grandeur of yesteryear, though, the curator, Ghislaine Wood, here emphasises one of the exhibition’s principal themes: that ocean liners were swiftly understood as vast, tangible expressions of statehood. They were, in the words of another scholar, “flagships of imperialism”. This was especially true during the run-up to the First World War, as European nations jostled to project power. It’s why this section is called “Politics of Style”.

The Versailles-like interior of the France offers an excellent case in point, as does an absurdly overblown allegorical mural expressing German maritime supremacy, designed for the first-class smoking room of the Kronprinz Wilhelm, which won the much-coveted Blue Riband for its speedy passage across the Atlantic.

Even after the war, though, ocean liners, which were of immense economic importance because constructing them created so many jobs, remained vessels of national pride. The archetypal example was the great French interwar liner, Normandie, the apogee of Art Deco maritime glamour, which entered service in 1935. Every aspect of her glittering décor was an expression of sophisticated French taste. One of the highlights of the V&A’s show is a soaring golden lacquer panel depicting lithe young men and women, like classical Greek athletes, engaged in sports, by the French artist Jean Dunand. It once graced Normandie’s smoking room. Meanwhile, a nearby display of décor from Cunard’s Queen Mary reveals a depressingly typical mid-century British ambivalence towards progressive design.

A dull painting from 1936, probably commissioned for Cunard’s offices in Liverpool, depicts the Queen Mary’s first-class dining room, which evoked the interior of an English country house.

Compared with the suave modernity of Normandie, it offers a staid vista of parochial disappointment: a wilderness of tough, grey beef and congealing gravy.

At least we can take pride in the commitment to modern design of the British Orient Line after the Second World War, when artists such as Edward Bawden were commissioned to produce designs for liners. By this point, however, following the rise of commercial aviation, ocean liners were already on the wane. Eventually, they would be replaced by a different sort of nautical beast, altogether: the top-heavy cruise ship.

Having outlined the development of ocean-liner design – one memorable moment concentrates on the evolution of the deckchair, and includes an example, with a ripped caned seat, recovered from the Titanic (a rare moment, you could say, when arranging deckchairs is the opposite of futile) – the exhibition plunges us into an “engine room”, packed with information about steam turbines, gyro stabilisers, and screw propellers, alongside Stanley Spencer’s mesmerising wartime painting of shipbuilders on the Clyde hammering red-hot rivets. A label informs us that the hull of the Queen Elizabeth required around 10 million of the things.

Then, we are up on deck, considering pool-side fashions, to a soundtrack of seagulls, before a dramatic projection simulates elegant passengers, dressed in satin and silk, wafting down the “grande descente” en route to dinner (ie making a very public entrance on a liner’s imposing staircase).

By now, we have been whisked away to a sort of luxurious fantasy land, an escapist dressing-up box filled with crocodile-leather Louis Vuitton vanity cases, and items of luggage owned by the Duke of Windsor (supposedly he and Wallis Simpson once boarded the SS United States with a hundred pieces). Yes, of course, there could be less rubbernecking at the extravagance of how the other half lived – even if one or two pieces of eye-popping bling, such as a Cartier diamond tiara from 1909, have terribly sad stories attached to them. The tiara belonged to a woman who survived the sinking of the Lusitania but lost two daughters during the catastrophe. It was rescued by one of her maids, but its exorbitant value must have felt like nothing compared with the priceless lives of her children.

I also wish that the final gallery, devoted to the impact of the ocean liner upon modern culture, as filtered through the imaginations of artists, architects, writers and filmmakers, was more extensive. After all, there are only so many pristine dinner services one can look at before the onset of ennui.

Still, Ocean Liners: Speed and Style is a surprisingly sophisticated exhibition. It will satisfy those who yearn, nostalgically, for the glamour of a lost age. At the same time, it will sate those with an appetite for serious analysis of modern design. Above all, though, it will provide a great deal of carefree fun, as it blithely imitates life on board these marvellous “floating palaces”. Bon voyage!

From Sat until June 17. Sponsored by Viking Cruises. Tickets: 0207 942 2000;

Wooden panel fragment from an overdoor in the first-class lounge on Titanic, about 1911. © Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Empress of Britain colour lithograph poster for Canadian Pacific Railways, J.R. Tooby, 1920 – 31. Museum no. E.2215-1931. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Paquebot 'Paris', Charles Demuth, 1921 – 22, US. Gift of Ferdinand Howald. © Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio
Panel from The Rape of Europa for the first-class grand salon on board the Normandie, Jean Dupas, made by Jacques-Charles Champigneulle, 1934, France. © Miottel Museum, Berkeley, California. Image courtesy Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
Luggage previously belonging to the Duke of Windsor, Maison Goyard, 1940s. © Miottel Museum, Berkeley, California

Diamond and pearl tiara previous
 previously owned by Lady Marguerite Allan and saved from the Lusitania, Cartier, 1909, France. Marian Gérard, Cartier Collection. © Cartier

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Brian Sewell's Grand Tour (edited)

THE GRAND TOUR - Ladies of the Grand Tour by Brian Delan / The Grand Tour by Christopher Hibbert / The English Gentlewoman by Flora Fraser .

`An utterly absorbing account, brilliantly researched and written, of women's lives and travels in the 18th-century.' Katie Hickman According to `The Art of Governing A Wife' (1747), women in Georgian England were supposed to `lay up and save, look to the house; talk to few and take of all within'. However, some broke from these taboos and took up the previously male privilege of travelling to the Continent to develop mind, spirit and body. Hearing of the delights of the Grand Tour from pioneering friends, increasing numbers of English ladies set off to sample foreign lands from which many returned apparently `the best informed and most perfect creatures'. For others the Grand Tour was an intellectual and romantic rite of passage, widening their knowledge of society, love and politics and inspiring a genre of literary fiction all of its own. Brian Dolan leads us into the hearts and minds of the ladies through the stories, thoughts and court gossip recorded in their journals, letters and diaries.

Women's travel: Women who broke the bell jar
Joanna Symons reviews Ladies of the Grand Tour by Brian Delan
12:01AM BST 15 Jun 2001

AS you set off on holiday this summer, spare a thought for the adventurous women of 18th-century England: trapped not so much beneath a glass ceiling as in a bell jar.

Georgian England was, according to Brian Dolan, run like a gentleman's club. Though the advantages of the Grand Tour for young men were widely acknowledged, such experiences were considered too stimulating for women. Their role, according to a contemporary work, The Art of Governing a Wife, was to "lay up and save; look to the house; talk to few; take of all within".

But some women did break the mould, to experience the wonders and pitfalls of Continental travel. These were not frivolous sun-seekers but well-educated blue stockings with a thirst for experience, who held strong opinions and were not slow to express them.

One wonders what European society made of Elizabeth Montague, who, Dolan reveals, returned one night from a ball and, still in formal dress, "chose to relax by reading the 'Ajax' and the 'Philoctetes' of Sophocles, wrote commentaries on both, then went to bed".

It is the stories of these women, set against the culture of the time, that Dolan sets out to explore; characters such as the writers Mary Berry and Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria Edgeworth and Hesther Thrale, whose diaries and journals vividly capture their fascination with (and sometimes disapproval of) European ways.

Their voices bring the book alive - whether they're exclaiming over French fashions or the French Revolution. Annoyingly, we don't hear enough of them.

Dolan has researched his subject thoroughly (the bibliography is almost a chapter long) but it's not until halfway through the book that you hear more than the odd snippet of life abroad. I began to feel as frustrated as the women themselves: I wanted to share their experiences across the Channel.

Dolan flits from one character to another; I had to keep turning to the dramatis personae section to keep track of who was who. Reading this book is rather like drifting along in a boat with one oar. You're not sure where you're going, it takes a long time to get there, but there's always a chance of bumping into something fascinating.

Gin and pistols
Vera Rule on women at sea in Heroines and Harlots by David Cordingly, and Ladies of the Grand Tour by Brian Dolan
Vera Rule

Sat 9 Jun 2001 10.17 BST First published on Sat 9 Jun 2001 10.17 BST

Heroines and Harlots: Women at Sea in the Great Age of Sail
David Cordingly
334pp, MacMillan
Ladies of the Grand Tour
Brian Dolan
330pp, HarperCollins, £19.99

What a fab party of women to be stranded with at an airport terminal gate. High-born (salonista Lady Holland, "the only really undisputed monarchy in Europe") and lowlife (China Emma, the Limehouse sailors' whore, who growled "I'd die for a drink, I must have it, and I don't care what I does to get it"); horribly real (Helen Williams, in fear of the guillotine in the Luxembourg Palace) and wildly fictional (Hannah Hewitt, the "Female Crusoe", cast away en route to India in a 1792 novel). They take the waters at Spa and Aix; they take lovers in Paris and Naples; they shop and ship by the crate; they adopt riding habits and are called "Sir"; they put on white duck trousers and pass themselves off for years as sailors, presumably pissing very discreetly.

That last group, the female mariners, appear in Heroines and Harlots ; these superboys with tits hidden under canvas jackets had a Lara Croft-like appeal to the 18th-century popular imagination. Some 20 of them were known to have served at sea between 1650 and 1815, including "William Brown", young, black and handsome, who joined the British navy and spent 12 years as "captain of the foretop" - leader of the team that climbed aloft to set the riskiest sails on battleships of the Napoleonic wars. Cordingly's anecdotes make us want to buy the movie rights, and even when her sex was revealed it didn't end her career; she rejoined her fellow tars at a higher rank before evaporating from the records.

She was not the first to be lioness-ised: Mary Lacy, a carpenter's mate, put in 12-hour days plus serious drinking time in Chatham dockyard to qualify as a shipwright. She was at last awarded, by a confused Admiralty, a disability pension "equal to that granted to Superannuated Shipwrights" and probably better than she could draw now. Then there was Hannah Snell, a marine who was wounded 12 times in the siege of Pondicherry in India; she had to extract a musket ball from her own groin as she dared not let surgeons discover her secret. Well, that's what the contemporary biography claimed, although its other nasty incidents, including naked-torso'ed floggings, sound suspiciously like the male author's sadistic fantasies. Published in the US in 1815, and with even more blockbuster potential, were the adventures of Louisa Baker, a ruined Bostonian girl who, bandaging her bosom and pulling on a tight "pair of under draws" - which she apparently never changed - fled a life of prostitution to become a sharpshooter high in the rigging of famous men'o'war. She married a wealthy New Yorker and lived quietly ever after, which last improbable plot developments reveal that the miniseries was dreamed up by a scriptwriter employed by a Boston pop publisher: both men, natch.

In fact, and in fiction, the women are present mostly to serve masculine purposes - for a start, those of their authors. David Cordingly's work reads, right down to its trollopy title, as if he had expanded it from a minor chapter in an ocean-going history - the kind of segment that uses up a historian's spicier notes on the incidence of mermaids before he returns, with relief, to analysing the protein content of weevils in ships' biscuits.

I had the impression that the only time Cordingly felt safe using the word "she" was when he was writing of a vessel; he too often cites a woman merely so that he can give a detailed account of her menfolk. Or he introduces them as conquests, entitling one section "Two Naval Heroes and Their Women", permitting Their Women only supernumary roles - even carved wooden figureheads (and Cordingly has a chapter on those, too) are allowed more individual character than his Emma Hamilton. He also employs fake-empathetic "what must have been her feelings" formulas, as when he writes about Mary Patten, a merchant captain's young bride who took command of the ship round Cape Horn when her husband fell sick. But overall his approach is a nervous raise of the glass to the ladies, god bless 'em. I did appreciate, though, a nautical ballad in the appendix: "Oh cruel was the splinter to break my deary's leg / Now he's obliged to fiddle, and I'm obliged to beg . . . / Like me you'll be rewarded, and have your heart's delight, / With fiddling in the morning, and a drop of gin at night. " Bet that anon balladeer was a woman.

Brian Dolan admits to expanding Ladies of the Grand Tour from a file left over from research on 18th-century British travellers, and makes even such unbiddable biddies as the bluestocking educationalist Hannah More demonstrate his own (not uninteresting) history-of-medicine thesis about the therapeutic effects of continental travel upon grand ladies. But when he quotes his sources in proof of his postulations, his gloss gets in the way (especially since his prose tends to the smooth ponderousness of presenter-ese). Better to read their words unmediated: they constantly subvert his.

There is nothing in Dolan's own sentences as informative about the robustness required for Georgian journeying as the items he cites from Mariana Starke's 1792 "things most requisite list" - "Two large thick leather-sheets . . . Pistols, knives . . . Sugar-tongs". Nor is there anything as celebratory of newfound freedom as Hester Piozzi's description of Parisian boulevards: "People of Fashion sitting on chairs in little Parties of five & six . . . a sett of Footmen round a Table drinking beer, old Soldiers smoaking, Shopwomen and Abigails . . . Puppet Shews, raree Shews, Monsters, Dancing Dogs".

I confess I can hardly remember Dolan's final conclusions, and I reread them twice out of politeness. Something about the stock of female knowledge continuing to increase - and what does that mean? And yet, I've been prompted by him to think all week about Mary Wollstonecraft, pregnant by her American lover, in a hideaway outside Paris during the Terror. There she penned her proto the-personal-is-political sentence - "The face of things, public and private, vexes me" - and worried that her anguish about the disintegrating revolution might be "tormenting or perhaps killing, a poor little animal, about whom I am grown anxious and tender, now I feel it alive". I wish she could be sitting in the window seat next time I fly.

                                 Christopher Hibbert
Prolific popular historian who brought style and narrative pace to a wealth of subjects from Agincourt to Disraeli
Christopher Hibbert
6:31PM GMT 23 Dec 2008

Christopher Hibbert, who died on December 21 aged 84, was a prolific popular historian, praised by readers and reviewers alike for his meticulous scholarship and flowing prose.

Following in the tradition of such figures as Philip Guedalla and Sir Arthur Bryant, Hibbert strove to bridge the gap between popular history and academic scholarship.

In a writing career that spanned half a century he wrote more than 40 books on subjects ranging from the Indian Mutiny and the House of Medici to the cities of Florence and Venice; from battles such as Agincourt and Arnhem to biographies of Dickens and Mussolini.

His breakthrough came with his fourth book, The Destruction of Lord Raglan (1961), a history of the Crimean War for which he won the Heinemann Award for Literature.

Once described as the "pearl of biographers", Hibbert covered some of the most august figures in British history, including Charles I (1968), Samuel Johnson (1971), Elizabeth I (1990), Nelson (1994), Wellington (1997), George III (1998), Queen Victoria (2000) and Disraeli (2004).

He was the first person to use the papers of George IV, when he produced his two-volume biography (1972-73). Often called "personal histories", his biographies were human portraits which eschewed deep analysis in favour of using anecdote and narrative to reveal the character of the subject.

Hibbert equated popular history with the narrative style. His intention was to describe rather than explain, leaving the reader to his or her own reflections. He noted: "The main aim is to entertain and tell a good, accurate story without attempting to make historical discoveries or change historical opinion in any way. You've got to make the reader want to know what's going to happen next, even if you're writing about something, the outcome of which is well known. You have to build up an atmosphere, almost like writing a novel or detective story. The popular historian's books are almost invariably narrative – which in many academic quarters is considered not the way to write history." While academics wanted analysis, Hibbert was adamant that he did not do that: "My readers wouldn't want me to."

Although his style was sometimes criticised for failing to break new ground or to tackle subjects in enough depth, Hibbert was sure of his methodology and his audience. He described himself as writing for those who were interested in history but who did not have the time or inclination to read an abundance of academic scholarship. He strove to make his writing accessible, and as a consequence his books were written with great style and a brisk narrative pace. They were rich in anecdote and filled with choice quotations.

Christopher Hibbert was born on March 5 1924 in Leicestershire, the second son of Canon HV Hibbert. He was educated at Radley and Oriel College, Oxford, where his studies were interrupted by war service, but not before he had won a half Blue for boxing. He served as an infantry officer with the London Irish Rifles and fought in Italy from 1944 to 1945, and was awarded a Military Cross.

During an advance along the bank of the Senio river in February 1945, Hibbert's platoon encountered a minefield. One member had his foot blown off in an explosion that brought down enemy fire, causing the others to withdraw. With complete disregard for his own safety Hibbert rescued the wounded man from the minefield while under fire.

Shortly after this Hibbert had his spectacles blown from his face when he was nearly hit by a mortar bomb. Despite his reduced vision he reorganised his platoon and went on to assault enemy machine-gun posts. His determined action meant that his platoon was able to occupy positions along the river, which ensured the safety of the rest of the advancing company.

On another occasion, while in a farmhouse being used as an observation post during an attack on the German lines, he found himself confronted by the farmer's wife. She was in a state of advanced labour, and when asked later how he had coped he replied: "I asked for plenty of hot water, remembering that was the standard request in films, but fortunately the farmer's wife seemed to know what to do!"

After the war, Hibbert returned to Oxford to complete his History degree before settling in Henley-on-Thames and embarking on a career as an estate agent. His literary career began when a friend invited him to become a television critic – a novelty at the time – for the magazine Truth.

After publishing short stories he was encouraged by JR Ackerley, literary editor of The Listener, to attempt a novel. His tale of the highwayman Jack Sheppard was turned, at the suggestion of a publisher, into a historical work and appeared as The Road to Tyburn in 1957. After King Mob (1958) and Wolfe at Quebec (1959), the success of The Destruction of Lord Raglan led him to take up writing full time.

From then on Hibbert never looked back, completing books at the rate of roughly one a year and enjoying popular success. Not only were his works widely read in Britain and America, they were also translated into many languages. His book The Grand Tour was turned into an ITV series in 1987.

Described as possessing "the sprightly, genial air of a cheerful curate", Hibbert was a sociable man with friends who delighted in his company. He enjoyed gardening, cooking and travel.

He also loved walking, though at times his choice of footwear was a little unorthodox. He once arrived on the summit of Great Gable, in the Lake District, wearing wellington boots, producing incredulous stares from a group of experienced climbers who had come up the hard side.

He served as president of the Johnson Society in 1980, and was awarded an honorary DLitt by Leicester University in 1996. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Christopher Hibbert married, in 1948, Susan Piggford, a fellow undergraduate at Oxford. They had two sons and a daughter.  

    Flora Fraser Soros (born 30 October 1958) is an English writer of historical biographies.
She is the daughter of historian and historical biographer Lady Antonia Fraser and the late Sir Hugh Fraser, a British Conservative politician. Her stepfather was the playwright Harold Pinter, the 2005 Nobel Laureate in Literature, her mother's second husband until his death in 2008. Her maternal grandparents were the late Elizabeth Longford, also an eminent biographer, and the late Lord Longford, a well-known politician, social reformer, and author.
She was named after Scottish Jacobite Flora MacDonald. Using her maiden name Flora Fraser, she has written biographies of Emma Hamilton, Caroline of Brunswick, the daughters of George III, and Pauline Bonaparte

The Grand Tour was the traditional trip of Europe undertaken by mainly upper class European young men of sufficient means and rank (or those of more humble origin who could find a sponsor), as well as young women if they were also of sufficient means, and accompanied by a chaperon, such as other family members, when they had come of age (about the age of 21 years old)The custom flourished from about 1660, until the advent of large-scale rail transport in the 1840s, and was associated with a standard itinerary. It served as an educational rite of passage. Though primarily associated with the British nobility and wealthy landed gentry, similar trips were made by wealthy young men of other Protestant Northern European nations, and from the second half of the 18th century, by some South and North Americans. The tradition declined with the lapse of neo-classical enthusiasm and after rail and steamship travel made the journeys much easier when Thomas Cook made the "Cook's Tour" of early mass tourism a byword.

The New York Times in 2008 described the Grand Tour in this way:
Three hundred years ago, wealthy young Englishmen began taking a post-Oxbridge trek through France and Italy in search of art, culture and the roots of Western civilization. With nearly unlimited funds, aristocratic connections and months (or years) to roam, they commissioned paintings, perfected their language skills and mingled with the upper crust of the Continent.
— Gross, Matt., "Lessons From the Frugal Grand Tour." New York Times 5 September 2008.

The primary value of the Grand Tour, it was believed, lay in the exposure both to the cultural legacy of classical antiquity and the Renaissance, and to the aristocratic and fashionably polite society of the European continent. In addition, it provided the only opportunity to view specific works of art, and possibly the only chance to hear certain music. A Grand Tour could last from several months to several years. It was commonly undertaken in the company of a Cicerone, a knowledgeable guide or tutor. The Grand Tour had more than superficial cultural importance; as E. P. Thompson stated, "ruling-class control in the 18th century was located primarily in a cultural hegemony, and only secondarily in an expression of economic or physical (military) power." The legacy of the Grand Tour lives on to the modern day and is still evident in works of travel and literature. From its aristocratic origins and the permutations of sentimental and romantic travel to the age of tourism and globalization, the Grand Tour still influences the destinations tourists choose and shapes the ideas of culture and sophistication that surround the act of travel.

In essence, the Grand Tour was neither a scholar's pilgrimage nor a religious one, though a pleasurable stay in Venice and a cautious residence in Rome were essential. Catholic Grand Tourists followed the same routes as Protestant Whigs. Since the 17th century, a tour to such places was also considered essential for budding young artists to understand proper painting and sculpture techniques, though the trappings of the Grand Tour—valets and coachmen, perhaps a cook, certainly a "bear-leader" or scholarly guide—were beyond their reach. The advent of popular guides, such as the Richardsons', did much to popularise such trips, and following the artists themselves, the elite considered travel to such centres as necessary rites of passage. For gentlemen, some works of art were essential to demonstrate the breadth and polish they had received from their tour: in Rome, antiquaries like Thomas Jenkins provided access to private collections of antiquities, among which enough proved to be for sale that the English market raised the price of such things, and for coins and medals, which formed more portable souvenirs and a respected gentleman's guide to ancient history. Pompeo Batoni made a career of painting the English milord posed with graceful ease among Roman antiquities. Many continued on to Naples, where they viewed Herculaneum and Pompeii, but few ventured far into Southern Italy or Malta, and fewer still to Greece, still under Turkish rule.

In Britain, Thomas Coryat's travel book Coryat's Crudities (1611), published during the Twelve Years' Truce, was an early influence on the Grand Tour but it was the far more extensive tour through Italy as far as Naples undertaken by the 'Collector' Earl of Arundel, with his wife and children in 1613–14 that established the most significant precedent. This is partly because he asked Inigo Jones, not yet established as an architect but already known as a 'great traveller' and masque designer, to act as his cicerone (guide). Larger numbers of tourists began their tours after the Peace of Münster in 1648. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded use of the term (perhaps its introduction to English) was by Richard Lassels (c. 1603–1668), an expatriate Roman Catholic priest, in his book The Voyage of Italy, which was published posthumously in Paris in 1670 and then in London.[a] Lassels's introduction listed four areas in which travel furnished "an accomplished, consummate Traveller": the intellectual, the social, the ethical (by the opportunity of drawing moral instruction from all the traveller saw), and the political.

The idea of travelling for the sake of curiosity and learning was a developing idea in the 17th century. With John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), it was argued, and widely accepted, that knowledge comes entirely from the external senses, that what one knows comes from the physical stimuli to which one has been exposed. Thus, one could "use up" the environment, taking from it all it offers, requiring a change of place. Travel, therefore, was necessary for one to develop the mind and expand knowledge of the world. As a young man at the outset of his account of a repeat Grand Tour, the historian Edward Gibbon remarked that "According to the law of custom, and perhaps of reason, foreign travel completes the education of an English gentleman." Consciously adapted for intellectual self-improvement, Gibbon was "revisiting the Continent on a larger and more liberal plan"; most Grand Tourists did not pause more than briefly in libraries. On the eve of the Romantic era he played a significant part in introducing, William Beckford wrote a vivid account of his Grand Tour that made Gibbon's unadventurous Italian tour look distinctly conventional.

The typical 18th-century sentiment was that of the studious observer travelling through foreign lands reporting his findings on human nature for those unfortunate enough to have stayed home. Recounting one's observations to society at large to increase its welfare was considered an obligation; the Grand Tour flourished in this mindset.

The Grand Tour offered a liberal education, and the opportunity to acquire things otherwise unavailable at home, lending an air of accomplishment and prestige to the traveller. Grand Tourists would return with crates full of books, works of art, scientific instruments, and cultural artifacts – from snuff boxes and paperweights, to altars, fountains, and statuary – to be displayed in libraries, cabinets, gardens, drawing rooms, and galleries built for that purpose. The trappings of the Grand Tour, especially portraits of the traveller painted in iconic continental settings, became the obligatory emblems of worldliness, gravitas and influence. Artists who especially thrived on Grand Tourists included Carlo Maratti, who was first patronized by John Evelyn as early as 1645, Pompeo Batoni the portraitist, and the vedutisti such as Canaletto, Pannini and Guardi. The less well-off could return with an album of Piranesi etchings.

The "perhaps" in Gibbon's opening remark cast an ironic shadow over his resounding statement.Critics of the Grand Tour derided its lack of adventure. "The tour of Europe is a paltry thing", said one 18th century critic, "a tame, uniform, unvaried prospect".The Grand Tour was said to reinforce the old preconceptions and prejudices about national characteristics, as Jean Gailhard's Compleat Gentleman (1678) observes: "French courteous. Spanish lordly. Italian amorous. German clownish." The deep suspicion with which Tour was viewed at home in England, where it was feared that the very experiences that completed the British gentleman might well undo him, were epitomised in the sarcastic nativist view of the ostentatiously "well-travelled" maccaroni of the 1760s and 1770s.

Also worth noticing is that the Grand Tour not only inspired stereotypes among the countries themselves but also led to a dynamic between the northern and southern Europe. By constantly depicting Italy as a "picturesque place", the travellers also unconsciously degrade Italy as a place of backwardness. This unconscious degradation is best reflected in the famous verses of Lamartine in which Italy is depicted as a "land of the past... where everything sleeps."

After the arrival of steam-powered transportation, around 1825, the Grand Tour custom continued, but it was of a qualitative difference — cheaper to undertake, safer, easier, open to anyone. During much of the 19th century, most educated young men of privilege undertook the Grand Tour. Germany and Switzerland came to be included in a more broadly defined circuit. Later, it became fashionable for young women as well; a trip to Italy, with a spinster aunt as chaperone, was part of the upper-class woman's education, as in E. M. Forster's novel A Room with a View.

The most common itinerary of the Grand Tour shifted across generations in the cities it embraced, but the British tourist usually began in Dover, England and crossed the English Channel to Ostend,[b] in Belgium, or to Calais or Le Havre in France. From there the tourist, usually accompanied by a tutor (known colloquially as a "bear-leader") and (if wealthy enough) a troop of servants, could rent or acquire a coach (which could be resold in any city or disassembled and packed across the Alps, as in Giacomo Casanova's travels, who resold it on completion), or opt to make the trip by boat as far as the Alps, either travelling up the Seine to Paris, or up the Rhine to Basel.

Upon hiring a French-speaking guide, as French was the dominant language of the elite in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, the tourist and his entourage would travel to Paris. There the traveller might undertake lessons in French, dancing, fencing, and riding. The appeal of Paris lay in the sophisticated language and manners of French high society, including courtly behavior and fashion. This served the purpose of preparing the young man for a leadership position at home, often in government or diplomacy.

From Paris he would typically go to urban Switzerland for a while, often to Geneva (the cradle of the Protestant Reformation) or Lausanne. ("Alpinism" or mountaineering developed in the 19th century.) From there the traveller would endure a difficult crossing over the Alps into northern Italy (such as at the Great St Bernard Pass), which included dismantling the carriage and luggage. If wealthy enough, he might be carried over the hard terrain by servants.

Once in Italy, the tourist would visit Turin (and, less often, Milan), then might spend a few months in Florence, where there was a considerable Anglo-Italian society accessible to travelling Englishmen "of quality" and where the Tribuna of the Uffizi gallery brought together in one space the monuments of High Renaissance paintings and Roman sculptures that would inspire picture galleries adorned with antiquities at home, with side trips to Pisa, then move on to Padua, Bologna, and Venice. The British idea of Venice as the "locus of decadent Italianate allure" made it an epitome and cultural setpiece of the Grand Tour.

From Venice the traveller went to Rome to study the ruins of ancient Rome, and the masterpieces of painting, sculpture, and architecture of Rome's Early Christian, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. Some travellers also visited Naples to study music, and (after the mid-18th century) to appreciate the recently discovered archaeological sites of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and perhaps (for the adventurous) an ascent of Mount Vesuvius. Later in the period the more adventurous, especially if provided with a yacht, might attempt Sicily (the site of Greek ruins), Malta or even Greece itself. But Naples – or later Paestum further south – was the usual terminus.

From here the traveller traversed the Alps heading north through to the German-speaking parts of Europe. The traveller might stop first in Innsbruck before visiting Vienna, Dresden, Berlin and Potsdam, with perhaps some study time at the universities in Munich or Heidelberg. From there travellers visited Holland and Flanders (with more gallery-going and art appreciation) before returning across the Channel to England.

Published accounts
Published (and often polished) personal accounts of the Grand Tour provide illuminating detail and a first-hand perspective of the experience. Examining some accounts offered by authors in their own lifetimes, Jeremy Black detects the element of literary artifice in these and cautions that they should be approached as travel literature rather than unvarnished accounts. He lists as examples Joseph Addison, John Andrews, William Thomas Beckford, whose Dreams, Waking Thoughts, and Incidents was a published account of his letters back home in 1780, embellished with stream-of-consciousness associations, William Coxe, Elizabeth Craven, John Moore, tutor to successive dukes of Hamilton, Samuel Jackson Pratt, Tobias Smollett, Philip Thicknesse, and Arthur Young. Although Italy was written as the "sink of iniquity," many travelers were not kept from recording the activities they participated in or the people they met, especially the women they encountered. To the Grand Tourists, Italy was an unconventional country, for "The shameless women of Venice made it unusual, in its own way.” Sir James Hall confided in his written diary to comment on seeing "more handsome women this day than I ever saw in my life," also noting "how flattering Venetian dress [was] — or perhaps the lack of it." Eighteenth and nineteenth century Italian women, with their unfamiliar methods and routines, were opposites to the western dress expected of European women in the eighteenth and nineteenth century; their "foreign" ways led to the documentation of encounters with them, providing published accounts of the Grand Tour. Boswell courted noble ladies and recorded his progress with his relationships, mentioning that Madame Micheli "Talked of religion, philosophy… Kissed hand often." The promiscuity of Boswell’s encounters with Italian elite are shared in his diary and provide further detail on events that occurred during the Grand Tour. Boswell notes "Yesterday morning with her. Pulled up petticoat and showed whole knees… Touched with her goodness. All other liberties exquisite." He describes his time with the Italian women he encounters and shares a part of history in his written accounts. Lord Byron's letters to his mother with the accounts of his travels have also been published. Byron spoke of his first enduring Venetian love, his landlord’s wife, mentioning that he has "fallen in love with a very pretty Venetian of two and twenty— with great black eyes — she is married — and so am I — we have found & sworn an eternal attachment … & I am more in love than ever . . . and I verily believe we are one of the happiest unlawful couples on this side of the Alps."Many tourists enjoyed sexual relations while abroad but to a great extent were well behaved, such as Thomas Pelham, and scholars, such as Richard Pococke, who wrote lengthy letters of their Grand Tour experiences.

Inventor Sir Francis Ronalds’ journals and sketches of his 1818–20 tour to Europe and the Near East have been published on the web.The letters written by sisters Mary and Ida Saxton of Canton, Ohio in 1869 while on a six-month tour offer insight into the Grand Tour tradition from an American perspective.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

The Grand Tour ...Aristocratic Initiation ... Individual Privilege instead of Mass Tourism

The more you know ... the more you see ... This is the only weapon against the collective paranoia of mass consumption that has invaded the modern concept of Tourism ... The old dilemma between "Being" and "Having" with the most important aspect in between ... "Becoming"
Yours ... Jeeves

The Grand Tour was the traditional travel of Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class European young men of means. The custom flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transit in the 1840s, and was associated with a standard itinerary. It served as an educational rite of passage. Though primarily associated with the British nobility and wealthy landed gentry, similar trips were made by wealthy young men of Protestant Northern European nations on the Continent, and from the second half of the 18th century some American and other overseas youth joined in.

The primary value of the Grand Tour, it was believed, lay in the exposure both to the cultural legacy of classical antiquity and the Renaissance, and to the aristocratic and fashionably polite society of the European continent. In addition, it provided the only opportunity to view specific works of art, and possibly the only chance to hear certain music. A grand tour could last from several months to several years. It was commonly undertaken in the company of a Cicerone, a knowledgeable guide or tutor. The Grand Tour had more than superficial cultural importance; as E.P. Thompson opined, "ruling-class control in the 18th century was located primarily in a cultural hegemony, and only secondarily in an expression of economic or physical (military) power."

This group was to fund some of the most important expeditions for the knowledge of the architecture in Greece and Asia Minor. The most famous ones are those of Robert Wood in 1750, and James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, in 1748-1755.

Robert Wood’s expedition to Greece, Asia Minor and Syria was led by James Dawkins (? -1757, a wealthy gentleman) and John Bouverie (1722-1750, amateur archaeologist). Robert Wood was a travel "guide", as he had been in Constantinople, several Aegean islands, Egypt and some cities in Syria and Mesopotamia. Wood was an erudite in classical themes, with sensitivity to capture the characteristics of a place, and a subtle understanding of natural beauties. For this reason Dawkins and Bouverie invited him to accompany them. Along with them went the architect, landscape architect and artist Giovanni Battista (Torquilio) Borra (1712-1786), as well. Wood and Borra drew the ruins of the cities of Palmyra (Syria) and Baalbeck (Lebanon), and published the drawings in two books, The Ruins of Palmyra in 1753, and The Ruins of Baalbeck in 1757.
(Francisco Martínez Mindeguía)

The essential place to visit, however, was Italy. The British traveler Charles Thompson speaks for many Grand Tourists when in 1744 he describes himself as "being impatiently desirous of viewing a country so famous in history, which once gave laws to the world; which is at present the greatest school of music and painting, contains the noblest productions of statuary and architecture, and abounds with cabinets of rarities, and collections of all kinds of antiquities." Within Italy, the great focus was Rome, whose ancient ruins and more recent achievements were shown to every Grand Tourist. Panini's Ancient Rome and Modern Rome represent the sights most prized, including celebrated Greco-Roman statues and views of famous ruins, fountains, and churches. Since there were few museums anywhere in Europe before the close of the eighteenth century, Grand Tourists often saw paintings and sculptures by gaining admission to private collections, and many were eager to acquire examples of Greco-Roman and Italian art for their own collections. In England, where architecture was increasingly seen as an aristocratic pursuit, noblemen often applied what they learned from the villas of Palladio in the Veneto and the evocative ruins of Rome to their own country houses and gardens.

...and many were eager to acquire examples of Greco-Roman and Italian art for their own collections...

Zoffani ... Charles Townley at home ...

The Grand Tour gave concrete form to Northern Europeans' ideas about the Greco-Roman world and helped foster Neoclassical ideals. The most ambitious tourists visited excavations at such sites as Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Tivoli, and purchased antiquities to decorate their homes.

Kedleston Hall by Robert Adam

The dining rooms of Robert Adam's interiors typically incorporated classical statuary; the nine lifesized figures set in niches in the Lansdowne dining room were among the many antiquities acquired by the second earl of Shelburne, whose collecting activities accelerated after 1771, when he visited Italy and met Gavin Hamilton, a noted antiquary and one of the first dealers to take an interest in Attic ceramics, then known as "Etruscan vases."

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

"For He's A Jolly Good Chap"... great photographs by Rose Callahan

These delicious photographs by Rose Callahan of this undoubtedly
"Gentleman - Chap", Sean Crowley and his Microcosmos, illustrate a unique philosophy of Life and a Quest for quality ... I wish Rose all the very best in her very creative Quest ... yours Jeeves

Rose Callahan is a portrait, fashion, & reportage photographer, and multimedia producer living in Brooklyn. The Dandy Portraits are her current personal project and obsession.

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