Sadly, this year's travel plans have been supplanted with overdue home projects, including the hanging and cataloging of my personal collection of paintings and other artwork. So this summer, in lieu of an overseas getaway, I could only gaze wistfully at framed pictures as I hung them—many of them reminding me of my favorite travel destinations (and vacations gone by). Let me share a few of them with you. Alas, this shall be the extent of my romantic journeys for Summer 2020. On the whole, I have little to complain of. In the meantime, I'll enjoy a few more "little journeys,' gazing at my pictures of my favorite places.
In the Nineteenth Century, very wealthy Americans (and Brits and Northern Europeans) would embark upon a "Grand Tour" of Europe, visiting the key cities and countries of "Western Classical Importance." Those were the places where significant history, classical art and Western culture were birthed. Such a journey was considered an important part of any highly-cultured person's (especially a man's) education. The itinerary usually included London, Paris, Vienna, Athens and (especially) numerous cities in Italy—Turin, Venice, Florence, Rome and Pompeii.
Pompeii was "rediscovered" in 1599, though excavations did not begin in earnest until 1748. An unearthed treasure trove of ancient Roman (and Greek) art and artifacts made Pompeii a "must-stop" destination for the Classical culture-buff. Naples is the large city right next to Pompeii, making it the perfect "jumping-off point" for an exploration of Pompeii and Vesuvius. It was in Naples that many savvy souvenir-hunters would find their Neapolitan oil painting—usually a picture of the Bay of Naples (Vesuvius smoldering in the the background).
This little painting by Giuseppe Carelli (1858-1921) shows small fishing boats on a placid Bay of Naples. Notice Vesuvius in the background (a trail of threatening smoke emanating from its peak). It was painted in the late Nineteenth Century and is exactly the kind of picture a foreign visitor to Naples would have purchased as a souvenir. Its bright, sunny-blue sky and water would bring a measure of joy to the New Yorker or Bostonian gazing at the picture on a blustery winter's day.
As in the Nineteenth Century, travel still is the great educator. Our idea of worthy destinations has expanded, which is good. And travel is so much more affordable than it once was; many more people can afford a trip to complete his or her cultural education.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248