Giovanni Paolo Panini, Italian, 1691–1765. A Capriccio of Roman Ruins with the Pantheon, c. 1755. Oil on canvas, 99.3 x 135.3 cm. Purchase, Frank P. Wood Endowment, 1963; 62/32; 62/33. © 2012 AGO. Lent by: Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
Europe and the Grand Tour: 1700-1850
In seeking cultural enlightenment, the temptations of cross-European travel drew the young 18th-century elite on the fashionable Grand Tour. Artists were inspired by and aspired to the traditions of Renaissance mastery and the antique world. Their desire to experience this first-hand and then capture its architecture, archaeology, and mythical stories influenced the works in this gallery. As well as looking to sources of inspiration overseas in Greece and Italy, they ensured their own imagination flowed, placing an emphasis on depicting their personal interpretation of the environment as opposed to a strict topography of the landscape. The popular Rococo style provided light-hearted, theatrical diversions in the arts, but its trademark playful ornamentation, pastoral scenes, and sense of humour could also conceal critical depths. Also present in this gallery are members of high society and civic stature, as sitters in portraits and commissioners of works of art. As well, the best of British 18th-century painting and colonial activities appear in the frame.