The Grand Tour series

The Grand Tour series

© The Grand Tour 6 (2011)
mixed-media collage: antique engravings and text (Peterson's Magazine, April 1870;
 Circling the Globe in Stories of Travel, International Pub. Co., 1896); 
antique map (New Eclectic Series Complete Geography, American Book Co., 1846);
 travel brochure; vintage Paris postcard; ink; colored pencil. 7.5” x 9.5” on acid-free mat board.

The series was inspired by fashion engravings from Godey's Lady's Book (1830-1898) and Peterson's Magazine (1842-1898).

Godey's ruled the women's magazine world in America until the debut of its rival, Peterson's Magazine. Both monthlies were based in Philadelphia, and contained a mix of original fiction, non-fiction, reviews, advice and DIY features on the domestic arts. Each issue included numerous engravings, some printed with spot color; others in black and white.

The magazines had as many as 150,000 subscribers in their heyday and employed hundreds of women to paint the main fashion engraving, which folded open. The illustrations echoed European women's magazines to the point that Peterson's dubbed its “Les Modes Parisiennes.” 

The engravings were also referred to as plates, giving birth to the term “fashion plate.”

The colors used were based on detailed descriptions of the dresses found at the back of each issue. While the engravers and printers – Illman Brothers, Chr. Kimmel, Capewell & Kimmel - are credited, the painters remain anonymous.

Plates in good condition are collectible and the magazines – once looked down upon as frivolous – have gained a new respectability for their literary quality (Sarah Josepha Hale – Godey's editor from 1837-77 published original American works only), frequent focus on social issues and their portrayal of the lives of women (Hale published three issues of Godey's that included work by women only). 

The Grand Tour refers to the requisite tour of the continent initially taken by wealthy young men during the 18th century to polish their education. Eventually, young women – chaperoned, of course – began their own treks to the major sites and cities of Europe, which frequently took months.

As the series has continued the women have become bolder and more adventurous - and their travels have taken them to unexpected places.

© One Small Step (2012)
mixed-media collage: antique, hand-painted fashion plate (Godey's Lady's Book, Dec. 1842)
and maps (Guyot's Physical Geography, Scribner's, 1872;
Natural Advanced Geography, American Book Co., 1901);
 vintage illustrations (Whole Earth Catalog back cover, Fall 1969; 
Harter's Picture Archive, Dover, 1978); watercolor; ink.
8" x 11.5" on acid-free, mat board

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