Eugène Viollet-le-DucFragment of Pompeian Architecture© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais
In the 19th century, developments in transport and a growing interest in archaeology meant that the journey to Italy was no longer the preserve of a few students from the école des Beaux-arts in Paris who had been awarded the Grand Prix de Rome. The visit beyond the Alps became a necessary part of architectural training.
This journey was an exciting period of study for these young artists. Away from the hustle and bustle of Paris, they discovered buildings they mainly knew indirectly, and examined in detail – and sometimes challenged – the knowledge passed down by previous generations. The study of Italian monuments, encouraged too by the development of architectural publications, changed their view of history, and determined a whole range of architectural creativity at that time.
Alice Thomine-Berrada, curator, Musée d'Orsay