Miss Knight Abroad

For a provincial belle from Natchez, the Grand Tour was a priceless introduction to Europe’s art, its feudal pomp, and its tourist trade

For upper-class Americans of the 1850’s the Grand Tour of Europe was at once the fulfillment of a lifelong ambition and a flamboyant way of letting their neighbors know that they had arrived. To lives made wealthy by the whirring wheels of northern industry or bumper harvests of southern cotton, they were anxious to add a patina of culture; the Grand Tour seemed the quickest and surest method of absorbing something which America lacked but which time-mossed Europe possessed in ample measure.

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