The Seminar for Collecting and Display invites you to its seminar

on Monday, 9th October, at 6 p.m BST


Dr. Adriano Aymonino will speak on:



Pier Leone Ghezzi, Studio di molte pietre, 1726, fol. 116 r., pen and watercolour on paper, 26.3 x 18 cm (sheet), Biblioteca Universitaria Alessandrina, Rome (MS 322)

During the long eighteenth century, a passion for Roman coloured marbles spread among collectors and antiquarians all over Europe. Straddling both culture and nature, as well as the aesthetic sphere and the nascent discipline of geology, a profound knowledge of the different stones of ancient Rome became an essential component of the cultures of the Grand Tour.

Among the many artefacts that were produced to cater for this interest – such as columns, marble tabletops, stone samples and collections – a specific category stands out: watercolours reproducing marbles on paper. Most of these were created by the polymathic artist Pier Leone Ghezzi and his collaborators in the 1720s and are found in collections in Rome and England. In their format and precision, they are a representative product of the rich artistic and antiquarian culture of early eighteenth-century Rome, at the same time reflecting Enlightenment attention to the classification of the natural world.

This lecture aims at mapping out the phenomenon, presenting at the same time much new material. It will focus on issues related to the representational techniques used in the watercolours, on scientific illustration and on the industry of the Grand Tour.

Dr Adriano Aymonino is the Director of the MA in the Art Market and the History of Collecting at the University of Buckingham. His publications include Drawn from the Antique: Artists and the Classical Ideal (Sir John Soane’s Museum, 2015); Enlightened Eclecticism (Yale University Press, 2021 – winner of the 2022 William MB Berger Prize for British Art History) and a revised and updated edition of Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny’s Taste and the Antique (Brepols, 3 vols, 2024). He is currently working on a critical edition of Robert Adam’s Grand Tour correspondence, which will be hosted on the Sir John Soane’s Museum website (2025). He is also series editor for MIT Press for the series Paper Worlds, and an associate editor for the Journal of the History of Collections.


Our speaker will present in person so do join us if you can.

To attend in person: The seminar will take place in the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet St London WC1E 7HU, room Wolfson NB02. Please register with the Institute of Historical research by Sunday evening that you will be attending in person.

To attend online: Please register with the Institute of Historical Research by Sunday evening and you will be sent the zoom link on the day. If you do not receive the link and you wish to attend, please contact

Please note: you need to register by Sunday evening.




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