From the mid-17th until the mid-18th century, British and European artists traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East as part of “the Grand Tour” to study art and paint the scenery of archeological ruins and natural scenery of France, Greece, Italy, and Turkey. From such travels, budding young artists learned proper painting and sculpture techniques and established markets for their art. In the late 18th century, artists also accompanied explorers to Tahiti, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands to document their discoveries, which sparked an interest in travel to exotic locales. Even Napoleon’s unsuccessful invasion of Egypt and Syria in 1798 to 1801 produced the French Orientalist painting movement, which romanticized the ancient architecture and people of the region.
In the United States during the 19th century, the Hudson River School found the majestic landscapes of the American West and South America a stimulating subject matter, and geographical survey artists found beauty in the landscape while documenting it for exploitation. With the advent of the railroad and air travel, and a burgeoning middle class, tourists from around the world now travel freely and document their experiences in photography, paintings, and drawings. This exhibition focuses on works from various eras and genres from the Tucson Museum of Art’s permanent collection that identify specific landmarks as if created by travelers who encounter them with a new sense of discovery. Each work of art serves as a visual travelogue of the artist’s journey.