Writer’s Travel Guide: The British Tourist and Napoleonic Milan

In this post:

  • How to get to Milan in the 18th century
  • Where to stay
  • Dangers and annoyances
  • Napoleonic sight-seeing in Milan

Travelling to Italy had always strongly appealed to the British aristocracy. Milan had been a favourite since Maria Theresia, sovereign of the Holy Roman Empire, remodelled the city in the second half of the 18th century: Milan featured lovely public gardens, and the fabulous opera house La Scala. But Alas!, visiting this splendid city came to a halt for British travellers from 1796 to 1814, when Napoleon had occupied Milan and most parts of Northern Italy. It was only after the Battle of Waterloo that British tourists could visit Milan again. One of the most famous tourists was Lord Byron, who spent two weeks in Milan in October 1816.

Lord Byron had always been an admirer of Napoleon. In Milan, he was lucky to get acquainted with the French poet Stendhal (Henri Beyle by real name). Stendal had been a secretary to Napoleon. Byron and Stendal met almost every evening for several weeks, and Byron questioned Stendal about his hero.

Some British tourists took a special interest in seeing the places of Napoleon’s power. Thus, locations connected with Napoleon became a curiosity for tourists. I have selected some of them for you in this post. Find out more about Napoleonic Milan: Continue reading

Robert Adam’s Bumpy Career Start

When budding star-architect Robert Adam returned from his Grand Tour in 1758, he needed to find clients for the glamorous style he had developed in Italy. He knew that only the very rich would be able to pay for the grandeur he designed. Thus, he and his brothers settled close to High Society. They set up their home first at St. James’s Place, then at Lower Grosvenor Street in London. It was most important for Robert to be regarded as a gentleman architect rather than a professional architect, as he feared that being the latter would lower his status to a mere craftsmen. Robert displayed the many sketches he had made in Italy in his home, while the drawing office was located at New Bond Street, ‘invisible’ for his clients.

It was difficult for the ambitious Adam brothers to find their first commissions. Aristocrats who hadn’t mind Robert’s company abroad in Italy weren’t willing to socialise with him in snobbish London. Eventually, two women were instrumental in starting the Adam brothers’ career.  Continue reading

How to Dress for a Picnic with Emma – New Exhibition at the MOC

I have a great treat waiting for me this year: “Picnic with Emma”, a historical dance. The theme is of course based on “Emma”, the novel by Jane Austen, published in 1815. It refers to the picnic at Box Hill that heroine Emma attends with her friends and neighbours:

“They had a very fine day for Box Hill … Nothing was wanting but to be happy when they got there. Seven miles were travelled in expectation of enjoyment, and every body had a burst of admiration on first arriving.”

Picnics first evolved in early nineteenth century Britain. They were regarded as a fashionable social entertainment, and each participant contributed a share of the provisions, to be enjoyed together.

Though a picnic was the pleasurable pursuit of the leisured people, it means that the participants were dressed for an outdoor activity not for an elaborate indoors assembly as a ball. Ladies would wear walking dresses and gentlemen would be seen in riding habits.

No ball gowns for the historical dance! Bad news for my red lace empire-style dress: It will have to stay at home. So I need a new costume, fitting the period and an Austenque picnic. Making one will be fun!

 What to wear for a picnic in 1815? Continue reading

Look Forward to April: New Non-Fiction Books about the Georgian Age

Each month at Regency Explorer, I provide Regency Enthusiasts with a summary of new non-fiction books about the Georgian Age. Waterloo and Jane Austen are prevalent topics this month, but if you are interested in fashion, poetry and science, read on, there might be new reads for you.

Which is your favourite new release of April? Choose from 39 titles: Continue reading

7 Objects of Beauty: A Tribute to Robert Adam

The young man was an upper-middle class Scotsman, a second son, and he had left university prematurely. But he possessed genius and ambition, a convenient wealth of 900 pounds a year, and some hands-on experience gained at his family’s architectural practice. Thus, he was well equipped to embark on a journey to the Continent in the company of an Earl’s brother in 1754. Yet, Robert Adam, aged 26, was not to know that this journey would be the key to making him the most sought-after architect of his time.

The year 2017 marks the 225th anniversary of the death of the famous Scottish architect Robert Adam (3 July 1728 – 3 March 1792). This post is dedicated to the aesthetics of his unique neo-classical style. I have compiled a selection of photos of Adam’s works, from ceilings to chimney-pieces. You are very welcome to enjoy the delicate and the decadent, and the weird and the wonderful. Continue reading

Great New Non-Fiction Reads for March: New Releases about the Georgian Age

Springtime has arrived and with it a bouquet of promising new non-fiction books about the Georgian Age. There are more than 25 new-releases to choose from (see list in this post). Themes vary from the final diplomatic mission of Talleyrand in London to Women and ‘Value’ in Jane Austen’s Novels.

Check out the new books about the Georgian Age: Continue reading

Take Your Favourite Period with You on a Picnic – New exhibition at the Museum of Creativity –

Dear Regency Enthusiast

With winter drawing to a close, it’s time to make plans for spring. How about a picnic in Regency attire? Surprise your friends by bringing Regency-themed decoration, e.g. beverage coasters. These useful items can easily be designed with a photo transfer medium.

The new exhibition “Take Your Favourite Period with You on a Picnic” by Jacques Kee provides ideas for designs inspired by the Romantic Age, and also a step-by-step tutorial.

Check them out at the latest exhibition at the Museum of Creativity and even try your hand at photo transferring yourself.

Click here to directly enter “Take Your Favourite Period with You on a Picnic”.

Enjoy the exhibition!

Yours

 

Anna M Thane