As early as the Renaissance, ambitious artists began to think that a sojourn in Italy was essential to their education—if they had the misfortune to be born elsewhere. Albrecht Dürer made the journey south from his native Germany twice, around the end of the fifteenth century, and discovered both the power of the classical past and what it meant for an artist to be treated with respect. By the mid-sixteenth century, aspiring painters from all over Europe were drawn to Venice to work in Titian’s studio; fifty years later, they flocked to Rome, eager to master the new-fangled dramatic realism of Caravaggio. From the eighteenth century on, Italy was an obligatory part of the Grand Tour for artists and non-artists alike, not only for the wealth of Old Master art to be seen in its palaces and churches or for the traces of antiquity visible throughout the peninsula but also for the landscape itself—the sites where myths were supposed to...


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