The Innocents Abroad - Chapter 19


The Innocents Abroad - Chapter 19
"Do You Wiz zo Haut can be?"—La Scala—Petrarch and Laura—Lucrezia Borgia—Ingenious Frescoes—Ancient Roman Amphitheatre—A Clever Delusion—Distressing Billiards—The Chief Charm of European Life—An Italian Bath—Wanted: Soap—Crippled French—Mutilated English—The Most Celebrated Painting in the World—Amateur Raptures—Uninspired Critics—Anecdote—A Wonderful Echo—A Kiss for a Franc

An exploration of the art in Milan, Di Vinci, Michelangelo, etc. We also get a peek at Lucretia Borgia and Petrarch's Laura. The chapter contains Twain's reflections on Di Vinci's The Last Supper and comments on how the image is described by viewers. How is it possible to perceive the many nuances said to be found in the painting when it is in such a degraded condition.

The Last Supper was described by Twain in Letter number 8 to The Daily Alta California. This is only a small portion of the letter. I expect to include a copy of the letter with the Chapter 20 material.

This is another slide show created with the open source program, Imagination. I often become dissatisfied with the vocal track of these shows because of misplaced words and phrases and moments where timing could be improved. But then, these are unrehearsed and essentially unedited live performance recordings. I do cut out unnecessary breaks in the dialogue caused by interruptions and filter on-line noise but otherwise they are straight readings.


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Submitted by scott on

I mentioned in an email message to the Twain-L listserv how impressed Twain was in one particular unattributed painting.

In another place we were shown a sort of summer arbor, with a fence
before it. We said that was nothing. We looked again, and saw, through
the arbor, an endless stretch of garden, and shrubbery, and grassy lawn.
We were perfectly willing to go in there and rest, but it could not be
done. It was only another delusion—a painting by some ingenious artist
with little charity in his heart for tired folk. The deception was
perfect. No one could have imagined the park was not real. We even
thought we smelled the flowers at first.

I was curious as to what specific painting this is and who the artist is. One respondent suggested that this comment was only "a little dig" at the perspective technique of trompe l'oeil and did not actually refer to a specific painting. I still wonder.

The phrase, trompe l'oeil, is Baroque but the technique is ancient. Examples are known from Pompeii and from ancient Greece. With the return of realism during the Renaissance and it's understanding of perspective drawing the technique came into use in frescoes and ceilings. Twain is known to prefer Renaissance realism over the art of "the old masters".

Submitted by scott on

"The passages on soap, Brown's (changed to Blucher's) note to the landlord in Paris, the English used in advertisements in Italy, and The Last Supper and the Old Masters.." originate in Letter Number 8 Daily Alta California.