The second Grand Tour : Orient

After the Greco-Roman Grand Tour, it was time for more distant travels. These fabulous journeys into the mysteries of the Orient greatly marked the men who went there, as was the case of the famous Lord Byron (1788-1824).

The socio-political conflicts in Europe made the route difficult path and steam engines made it possible to go further, faster and more safely. The travellers then became explorers of the Mediterranean basin, discovering the cultures of Egypt and the Arab countries, dating back thousands of years.

Two movements arose out of these journeys:

Firstly there was Romanticism. Indeed, artists of the late 18th and early 19th century went to the East partly to escape the large urbanised cities that sprang up at the beginning of the industrial revolution, as well as the political turmoil of the time. They were in search of a golden age, closer to nature.

Then, a little later, there was Orientalism. The odalisques of Ingres, although he never actually went there, show this taste for an exotic elsewhere. Many objects inspired by this fashion were to flourish in the Universal Expositions, such as brightly coloured Moorish earthenware and oriental fabrics.

The first Grand Tour : Greco-Roman antiquity

From the late 17th century up to the end of the 19th century, the Grand Tour enabled boys of good family to complete their education and become men, as was the case for the famous Lord Byron (1788-1824). It gave rise to a generation marked by these experiences and new artistic trends.
The traveller went off to the roots of Western culture to visit the Coliseum of ancient Rome and the Acropolis of Athens.

The Grand Tour made it possible to acquire much knowledge and to take home images from this period of the apogee of Fine Arts. These models came in various forms: engravings by Piranesi, moulds of engraved gems representing artworks and called intaglios, and also, for the wealthiest, marble sculptures of classical models.

An entire generation was marked by this experience and Classicism triumphed in the arts. There was a subsequent flourishing of Capriccio – invented compositions combining various ancient ruins – or imaginary museums, so typical of Pannini and Hubert Robert.
In interiors, there was the fashion of Palladianism, inspired by the great Venetian palaces of the Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio (1508-1580).

Brocatelle marble

Brocatelle marble has the reputation of being a fragile but very beautiful hard stone. Brocatelle was quarried in Jura and is found in two varieties, one yellow, the other violet. There is also a mixed variety, used less often and therefore rarer in antiques today. There is a variety of violet Brocatelle that comes from Spain.
The oldest carved Brocatelle marble found was in Pompei. It was often used on the grandiose decorations of the 18th and 19th century: The Petit Trianon in Versailles, the Garnier Opera house in Paris.

The Louis XV style

The Louis XV style evolved from the Regence style and freed furniture's lines and forms. This period invented an ornamental repertoire that was completely innovative and original : the Rococo style. It was based on very curved and sinuous lines, asymmetry being the guiding principle of this period. In rich interior decoration, vivid colors, mirrors and large white ceilings decorated with a central rosette, were popularly used.

From 1730 to 1750, this style flourished in the Parisian interiors, and was gradually replaced by the Louis XVI style. The style in beetween is called « Transition ».
The painter François Boucher and the mistress of Louis XV, the Marquise de Pompadour became the symbol of this new style, where gallantry prevailed over grandiose.

Later on, during the eclecticism of the 19th century. The Louis XV style became fashionable once more. Numerous cabinet-maker and artists, such as François LINKE (1855-1946), made beautiful works of art inspired by this ornamental repertoire.