Sites to Behold: Travels in Eighteenth-Century Rome

November 3, 2009 – April 11, 2010

Jean-Baptiste Lallemand, View of Rome: The Tiber River with the Castel Sant'Angelo and St. Peter's Basilica in the Distance, n.d., Gouache on paper. Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Gift of Lucia Woods Lindley, 2006.96.

Rome has long been a leading tourist destination.

Many of the "must-see" sites were codified centuries ago as part of the Grand Tour, a journey undertaken by young aristocrats to complete their education and give them experience of the world. But by the late eighteenth century, the once-exclusive Grand Tour was giving way to more modern, democratic notions of travel. 

No longer the preserve of a privileged elite, travel to Italy and other places came within the reach of a wider public, who were eager for tangible souvenirs of what they saw and experienced. This exhibition presents etchings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, gouache drawings by Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Lallemand, and other works depicting Rome and nearby Tivoli. These eighteenth-century artists, with their different temperaments, techniques, and styles, produced a breathtaking variety of art. A far cry from the monotony of the picture-postcard aesthetic, the works on view appealed to a wide array of tastes and allowed travelers of the period to marvel at the splendor and ruin of an ancient world long after they returned home.

Explore a map of Rome

Become a virtual tourist and explore Rome.

The map allows you to locate many of the sites portrayed in the Smart Museum's 2009 exhibition Sites to Behold. Click on the markers to compare the eighteenth-century views with their present-day appearance and learn what made them fixtures on a tourist’s Roman itinerary.

Related Programs

Lunch-hour Talk: "Clerics, Scholars, and Drunken Englishman"
November 20, 2009

Lunch-hour Talk: "The Ruin as Souvenir"
February 5, 2010

Concert: Love, Italian Style
February 14, 2010

Lunch-hour Talk: "Views of Rome"
February 26, 2010

Lecture: "Through Piranesi's Eyes: Vies of Rome"
April 1, 2010

Curator Tour
April 11, 2010

Film Series

See how the Grand Tour survives today in the contemporary film industry's depictions of Italy. 

A Room with a View
November 30, 2009

The Talented Mr. Ripley
December 15, 2009

The Portrait of a Lady
January 24, 2010

Roman Holiday
February 21, 2010

The Belly of an Architect
March 21, 2010

Enchanted April
April 6, 2010

Presented in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago.