July 12, 2009

Mark Twain about the Louvre

In 1867 Mark Twain visited Paris for the first time and wrote many memorable pages about the Eternal City. From all those pages, just a little paragraph was dedicated to the Louvre, which he didn't like at all. I guess he had had prefer to see Duchamp's L.H.O.O.Q.

"We visited the Louvre, at a time when we had no silk purchases in view [ironic remark on something that happened to the group the previous days], and look at its miles of paintings by the old masters. Some of them were beautiful, but at the same time they carried such evidences about them of the cringing spirit of those great men that we found small pleasure in examining them. Their nauseous adulation of princely patrons was more prominent to me and chained my attention more surely than the charms of color and expression which are claimed to be in the pictures. Gratitude for kindnesses is well, but it seems to me that those artists carried it so far that it ceased to be gratitude and became worship. If there is a plausible excuse for the worship of men, then by all means let us forgive Rubens and his brethren".
(The Innocents Abroad, ch. 14)

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