Robert Macpherson
Cascatelle at the Villa of Maecenas, Tivoli

c. 1857
Collodio-albumen print
Gift of Paul Katz, 1986
The Clark Art Institute, 1986.19B

Travels on Paper

November 16, 2019–February 9, 2020

Before our era of mass tourism and Instagrammable vacations, the opportunity to visit renowned sites and experience exotic locales was limited to a privileged few. Most people had to settle instead for vicarious armchair travel. Printed imagery, which allowed multiple copies of a single image to circulate to far-flung consumers, meant that scenes of foreign lands, majestic monuments, and picturesque views could spread to a much wider public; meanwhile, travelers themselves were able to take home these precious, tangible mementos of their explorations. Drawings, too, allowed artists to share personal visions of unfamiliar places and stoke interest in new locales. Italy, as the focal point of the so-called Grand Tour, loomed especially large in the European tourist imaginary—but more unusual destinations also surfaced as sites of curiosity and visual discovery. As the appetite for travel images grew, an increasing tide of foreign views—often staged to appeal to Western eyes—nourished a “cult of the exotic” that would continue into the era of photography. This exhibition will take visitors on a world tour featuring prints, drawings, and photographs by Camille Corot, Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, John La Farge, Robert Macpherson, Thomas Moran, Félix Teynard, and many others.