The Dilettanti Society in Rome, Italy

by Augusto Danieri

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 19.7 x 33.5 in./ 50.0 x 85.0 cm
SIGNATURE: Signed lower right and annotated “Rome”
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas

In 1734, a group of young British gentlemen, all alumni of the Grand Tour in Italy, formed a dining club in London. Calling themselves ‘The Society of Dilettanti’ (from the Italian word, dilettare, to take delight). The close-knit association transformed classical antiquity from a private pleasure to a public benefit by sponsoring archaeological expeditions, forming collections, and publishing influential books on ancient architecture and sculpture.

The group, initially led by Francis Dashwood, contained several dukes and was later joined by Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick, Uvedale Price and Richard Payne Knight, among others. It was closely associated with Brooks’s, one of London’s most exclusive gentlemen’s clubs. A few years before Sir Joshua Reynolds became a member, the group worked towards the objective of forming a public academy, and from the 1750s, it was the prime mover in establishing the Royal Academy.

Private Collection, United Kingdom

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Biography

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