The beginnings of archival research: echoes of Dalmatia as a destination of the European Grand Tour of the 18th century in the museums and collections of London

One point of departure for a successful implementation of the project Dalmatia as a destination of European Grand Tour in the 18th and the 19th century has to be research into the art heritage that was created as a result of sojourns in Dalmatia by European artists. The research involves travelling to archives where the most famous of the archival records of interest for the project are kept: London (Sir John Soane’s Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, RIBA Collection), Vienna (Graphic Cabinet of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Albertina and Belvedere Gallery) and Saint Petersburg (State Hermitage Museum).

Soane's Museum, photo: A.Š.
Soane’s Museum, photo: A. Š.

Cvijeta Pavlović and Ana Šverko, together with a consultant of the project, Flora Turner, spent the period from November 5 to November 8 in London, investigating the artistic heritage connected with the stays of Robert Adam, Charles-Louis Clérisseau and Louis-François Cassas in Dalmatia. The research started in Sir John Soane’s Museum, where an immense amount of help was kindly provided by Frances Sands. She made possible a first-hand examination of the drawings of Robert Adam that came out of the whole of his Grand Tour, with an emphasis on his stay in Split.

Equally detailed research into the drawings of Charles-Louis Clérisseau and Louis-François Cassas as well as the drawings of Andrea Palladio that refer to the Croatian coast of the Adriatic was facilitated by the V&A and the RIBA Collection, also thanks to the kindness of the staff, particularly the help of Eric Turner, curator at the V&A.

V&A Museum, photo A. Š.
V&A Museum, photo A. Š.

On November 6, in the Croatian Embassy in London, Ana Šverko made a presentation of the project, Dalmatia – a destination of European Grand Tour in the 18th and the 19th century. Organised by the British Croatian Society, the presentation also touched on the forthcoming international conference Diocletian’s Palace in the works of Adam, Clérisseau and Cassas. The presentation, in the packed hall of the embassy, came after a few words of welcome and introduction by the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the United Kingdom Dr Ivan Grdešić and the chairman of the Society Nicholas Jarrold and a lecture by John Harris entitled The Pula Forts – Possibilities, Potentials, Problems.

(written by A. Š.)