Titian Country: Josiah Gilbert (1814–1893) and the Dolomite Mountains

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In the Victorian period, Venice was linked to an iconography devoid of any references to the Dolomite Mountains. The connection between the city and its Alpine horizon remained concealed under a veil of haziness. This paper seeks to unravel the conditions under which this haze was lifted. In a context in which classical aesthetic trends and nostalgic codes of travel reminiscent of the Venetian Grand Tour still held sway, Victorian travellers ventured along alternative routes into the wild and rocky Highlands of Venice, pioneering new travel styles that satisfied the desire of experiencing nature in landscape. Josiah Gilbert's 1869 travel-cum-art book, Cadore, or Titian's Country, typified this changing trend. In tracing a Petit Tour, off the beaten track, Gilbert transformed the Dolomites into a zone of prestige centred on Pieve di Cadore, the birthplace of Titian. Despite their uncharted and isolated topography, the Dolomites emerged progressively as a cultural landscape intimately connected to the cosmopolitan aura of Venice and the artistic legacy left in Titian's mountainous backgrounds. Configuring the real Dolomite landscape as if Titian had painted it faithfully, Victorian travellers to Titian Country enacted a ‘cult geography’ through which his paintings could be traced on foot.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-42
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Early online date12 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Alpine adventure
  • Dolomites
  • Geography of art
  • Josiah Gilbert
  • Landscape art
  • Titian
  • Zones of prestige


Dive into the research topics of 'Titian Country: Josiah Gilbert (1814–1893) and the Dolomite Mountains'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this