The trade with antiquities flourished in Rome through an influx of mostly noble travelers, who visited the city in the 18th century while on their grand tours. Giovanni Battista Piranesi, the most influential of the resident architectural theoreticians and a connoisseur of the classical era, also took part in this business that was very popular among English gentleman. To satiate a hunger for classical antiquities of all kinds, excavations were conducted in the widest-reaching environs of the city for statues, reliefs and vases, while sculptors feverishly labored in their workshops on copies and sculptural enhancements.
Collectors throughout Europe sought out art dealerships, such as those operated by Gavin Hamilton and David Jenkins, which were well-known instutions until the French Revolution. Even today, the resolutely completed sculptures that were recreated in this fashion adorn more than just English country estates and city residences. European Neoclassicism of the second half of the 18th century would also be unthinkable without this unselfconscious, semi-playful cult with antiquities.