Het was vroeger gebruikelijk dat welgestelde jongelui een grote buitenlandse reis maakten ter afronding van hun opvoeding. Zo’n educatieve reis noemde men de ‘Grand Tour’. In 1818-1819 maakte Jonkheer Daniël Theodoor Gevers van Endegeest de Grand Tour naar Italië, die anderhalf jaar in beslag nam. Van zijn tocht op het eiland Sicilië en de streek tussen Reggio en Napels vervaardigde Gevers een serie schitterende aquarellen. De tekeningen worden voor het eerst tentoongesteld in de Atlas van Stolk in Museum Het Schielandshuis van 15 oktober 2004 tot 20 maart 2005. Ze geven een indrukwekkend beeld van de natuur en bezienswaardigheden zoals de ruïnes van Pompeï.
From the museum website, by Charles Welling
Daniël Gevers van Endegeest (1793-1877) had a vivid interest in the world around him, a keen eye for detail and a skillful hand when it came to drawing. Not only was he an artist, but a lawyer and an expert in the field of hydraulic engineering and agriculture as well.
It was customary for upper-class young men to conclude their formal education with a Grand Tour, a journey through France and Italy. The object of such an undertaking, for quite an undertaking it was in those days, was to obtain good manners and to become thoroughly acquainted with the classical world, which was seen as the source of western civilization.
In 1818, Daniël and his brother Leonard left for Paris in the possession of introductory letters that would facilitate their access to high-placed and notable people. They would meet illustrious people such as Pope Pius VII, Cardinal Gonzalvi and Emperor Francis I of Austria, with whom they dined at the Vatican. From Paris they traveled to the Pyrenees, crossed the Alps to Turin, visited all the major cities of Italy and finally reached the far end of their journey: Sicily.
The brothers started their return from Messina. This journey is the subject of a lecture that Daniel held for the society Diligentia at The Hague on 9th February 1827. The lecture was enhanced by the display of the drawings Daniel had made during his journey.
He first showed his aquarelle The Strait of Messina, the stretch of water between Sicily and the mainland, which they had crossed in a rowboat to reach Reggio di Calabria. The next day they traveled north, past the cliffs of Scylla, illustrated by the corresponding drawing.
They went on to Nicastro, where Daniël made sketches of the bridge on the Savuto. In his lecture he elaborated on the dangers that threatened them in Calabria, where “no Calabrian leaves his house without his rifle. They think lightly of killing a man, und how easy it would be to plunder the unsuspecting stranger”. All through Calabria they traveled with an armed escort.
They passed Cosenza on the Chrati where Daniël was intrigued by the huge oxen. They continued north and saw the Temples of Pestum, of which Daniël drew an overview. The complex greatly intrigued Daniël. He was impressed by the great temple of Neptune, as well as by the there present buffalo. They spent the night at Salerno and left for Naples via Pompeii the next morning. Daniel was thrilled by the landscape. At Pompeii, he and his brother Leonard had lunch with the Empress of Austria, who happened to be visiting the ancient city as well.
Although Daniël’s lecture was supposed to end with his arrival at Naples, he took his audience with him to the Vesuvius. They had a meal with the hermit living at the foot of the volcano, and left him in charge of their mules. On their way up, accompanied by a guide, and climbing by the light of torches, Daniël and his brother discussed the nature of the tremendous powers that caused the eruptions. They did not find the answer. Daniël showed his audience an eruption of the Vesuvius, an aquarelle made after older depictions.
At the conclusion of his lecture, Daniël expressed his gratitude that he was able to live in Holland where the forces of nature were of a kind that might be bridled, contrary to those of volcanoes.In later life, Daniël himself was to have a hand in the impoldering of the Haarlemmermeer (Haarlem Lake).
Daniël’s lecture of 9th February 1827 is one that has been kept, but it was just one of many. Learned societies, the members of which were all somehow engaged in philosophy, literature or physics, were flourishing in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Diligentia was such a society and Daniël had been a member since 1820. Daniël’s marriage to Hansje Deutz van Assendelft introduced him to like circles in Amsterdam, which gave him access to the Felix Meritis and Doctrina & Amicitia societies.
In 1826 Daniël published his treatise on the cultivation of the dunes along the coast of Holland. King Willem I, impressed, sent Daniël to Gascogne in France to investigate projects there. The resulting report was the basis for another series of lectures. Daniël, versatile as he was, also held a number of lectures on the punitive system, a field in which he was wellgrounded.
In 1863 Daniël held another series of lectures: A fortnight in Algeria. For these occasions Daniël made his sketch of his rostrum.
With the exhibition a catalogue is available.