Exhibition | Souvenirs of Italy: An English Family Abroad

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 20, 2019

Now on view at Audley End:

Souvenirs of Italy: An English Family Abroad
Library at Audley End House, Essex, 1 April — 31 October 2019

Curated by Peter Moore, Abigail Brundin, and Dunstan Roberts

George Romney, Portrait of Richard Aldworth Neville, later 2nd Baron Braybrooke, oil on canvas, ca.1779 (On loan from a private collection; photograph by Mark Asher).

We learn relatively little about Richard Griffin (formerly Richard Aldworth Neville, 1750–1825), second Baron Braybrooke, when we visit or read about Audley End House. He seems to have spent limited time at the house and left it largely unchanged on his death. Recent research in the Library has thrown fascinating new light on this family member, including a European tour that was initiated in the wake of a bereavement and left a lasting personal and cultural legacy at Audley End. Richard’s experiences abroad have much to tell us about the importance of multiculturalism and multilingualism in eighteenth-century England.

The exhibition revolves around the European tour undertaken by Richard Aldworth Neville from 1771 until 1774, when he was in his early twenties. It focuses on the family circumstances that led to the tour, the family’s multilingualism, Richard’s experiences in France, Switzerland, and Italy and what he brought home with him—both materially and culturally—which later found its way into Audley End House and its library. Books, manuscripts, paintings, drawings, and personal items from the house are brought into conversation through the exhibition with archival loans from Essex Record Office that shed light on Richard’s upbringing, his family relationships, and his reactions to his experiences abroad.

The broad aim is twofold. First the exhibition will help to bring into a focus a member of the family and owner of Audley End House who currently does not feature very much in the existing public engagement materials. Second the focus on the Grand Tour allows us to build a narrative about European engagement, through language learning, travel and the consumption of foreign literature and material culture, which enriched the lives of those who lived in and passed through Audley End.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Peter Moore (Curator of Collections & Interiors, Audley End); Dr Abigail Brundin (Reader in Early Modern Literature and Culture, Department of Italian, University of Cambridge); and Dr Dunstan Roberts (Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of English, University of Cambridge). The exhibition is funded by the University of Cambridge and the Friends of Audley End.

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