The Society of Dilettanti Archaeology and Identity in the British Enlightenment Jason M. Kelly

The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
Publication date:
15 Jan 2010
Paul Mellon Centre BA
366 pages: 254 x 190mm
125 b-w + 43 color illus.

In 1732 a group of elite young men who had met on the grand tour formed a convivial dining club called the Society of Dilettanti. By the middle of the 18th century the Dilettanti took on an influential role in cultural matters, organizing archaeological expeditions, forming the Royal Academy and the British Museum, and ultimately becoming one of the most prominent and influential societies of the British Enlightenment.


This lively and illuminating account is the most detailed analysis of the early Society of Dilettanti to date. Jason M. Kelly places the group at the complex intersection of international and national discourses that shaped the British Enlightenment; thus, it sheds new light on 18th-century grand tourism, elite masculinity, sociability, aesthetics, architecture, and archaeology.

Jason M. Kelly is Assistant Professor of History at Indiana University–Purdue University, Indianapolis.

"[M]eticulously researched and elegantly presented . . . [a] fine and important study."—W.C. Lubenow, Journal of British Studies