Travel during the late 16th century all the way through the early 19th century was considered a privilege and a symbol of wealth shared only by those who were fortunate enough to afford the luxury. During this time period, young, upper-class, European men would embark on a Grand Tour of Europe after having finished their academic studies. These young men would spend time traveling throughout Paris, Venice, Florence, and Rome visiting the great masterpieces of art and architecture that they had studied throughout their time in school.
During their Grand Tour, they would also gather unique souvenirs along the way. Much like souvenir postcards and magnets today, these souvenirs sought to capture the beauty of each destination. Yet, unlike a simple postcard, these Grand Tour souvenirs were far more luxurious. It was not uncommon for a young traveler to gather rare pieces of marble or granite that were unique to each specific region that he had visited. He would then bring these specimens to a local artisan to craft a ‘souvenir table’ for him.
In this incarnation, the final result is an ornate table decorated with micromosaic scenes framed by rare marble and granite samples. These tables not only served as personal souvenirs for the traveler but were also symbols of great wealth and knowledge. Anyone who visited the traveler’s home would see this table and be able to tell just how worldly he was, based on the amount of unique marble and granite samples he had collected along his journey.
Click here to learn more about these incredible souvenirs.