In the aftermath of the American Civil War, an increasing number of Americans made a Grand Tour to Europe travelling, unlike their 18th-century counterparts, by trains and transatlantic liners, and many of them visited Venice. Some, like Katherine Bronson and the Bostonian Curtis family, settled in the city, while others, notably Isabella Stewart Gardner who rented the Palazzo Barbaro from the Curtises, spent the summer months in la Serenissima, providing hospitality and patronage for writers like Henry James and artists like Whistler and Sargent. This tradition was continued in the twentieth century by Peggy Guggenheim who became a very important patron of the modern movement. Other important visitors to Venice, birds of passage rather than residents, were members of the great plutocratic collecting dynasties of the Gilded Age such as the Morgans and Fricks, whose diaries are preserved in the archives of the Frick and the Morgan Library.
This section focusses on five of these visitors whose accounts enable us to reconstruct the atmosphere of the Gilded Age and later 20th century in Venice. To follow in their footsteps, click on the icons below: