My First Trip Abroad by Vincent Price | The 1928 journal begins here…

Vincent Price in 1929On the 5th of September 1928, a young 17-year-old Vincent Price arrived back in St Louis, Missouri following a two-month tour of Europe, where he got to lay his eyes of the classic masterpieces of the artists he so admired for the very first time, and explored the sights and the amazing nightlife of places like Monte Carlo and Paris with his fellow travelling companions. You can read all his adventures now from the start, by following the link below (or clicking on the photo).

My First Trip Abroad by Vincent Price | The adventure starts here…
My Trip Abroad by Vincent Price

Goodbye Europe | 25 & 26 August

Le_Havre_1928_postcardDATE August 25th
PLACE Paris
I waited until this last day to buy me a present from mothers money & boy I go what I wanted. At 4:15 we left Paris for Harve arriving there at 8:30 we got on the boat [1] at 11:30 gee what a day. I want to go home but I love Europe. Lord may I come again. Good bye Europe.

Le_Havre_TSS_Tuscania_1920sDATE August 26th-Sept 3rd
PLACE At Sea RMS Tuscania
The boat rocks everybody seasick with the exception of those like me with cast iron stomachs.

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 25_August

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

EDITOR’S NOTES
TSS TUSCANIA[1] According to theshipslist.com, TSS Tuscania was built for Anchor Lines by Fairfield Shipping in 1921, weighed 16,991 tons and featured six turbine engines capable of 16 knots. Cunard chartered the ship between 1926 and 1931. It was then sold to Greek Line in 1939 and was rechristened Nea Hellas, becoming a troop ship during World War Two, and ferrying post-war immigrants to New York. In 1955, it served as the TSS New York until 1961 when she was sent to Japan to be scrapped. For more information on the ship, check out this tribute page.

A WORD FROM VICTORIA PRICE
One of the most significant events of my father’s youth was his 1928 trip to Europe alone, when he was just 17 years old. It had been his dream to see the Continent and the works of the Old Masters, and he had saved his money for years (and gone to summer school to improve his grades) in order to be allowed to go by his parents. That trip changed his life, and gave him the goal of creating a life in the visual arts for himself and for others. I am so grateful that Peter has created this website to share this momentous experience in my father’s life with his fans and with art lovers who may not know the true passion Vincent had for the arts from a very young age! I think you will find reading this journal a wonderful journey yourself.’ Victoria Price

Vincent Price Last Entry

‘I would that this map would determine only a small part of my voyages, that I might explore into unknown places’. Vincent Price’s final entry in his 1928 journal.

Vincent’s diary entries end here. I do hope you enjoyed this journey back in time to 1928.

France | 24 August 1928

DATE August 24th
PLACE Paris
Our last whole day in Paris I spent as usual in the shops trying to get some few presents for more people. Went back to the junks shops after lunch & saw 3 small etching for which I played 6c [ed.note: six centimes] & then some other small ones. Tonight we went to the Casino de Paris I am bound to see Paris even if it breaks me. This was a great show very clever. Then we went to Pigalle a good club where you dance on numbers & win dolls maybe. Next to the hotel to get some addresses & then we saw Paris.

casino_de_paris_1928We went to a place called ‘Paradis’ & there lay before you Paris. Smoke as thick you could hardly see, an acordian wailing some wild tunes & Nigros dancing with whites both ways. Girls try to pick you up, but you say “J’ai une femm” & then they go saying “Quelle dommage!” buts its Paris. After this we went to a place called ‘Florencés’ entirely run by Nigros & now all Americans & Florence [1] her-self came & sang to us ‘Just Bill’oh Boy such dancing. That’s good by Paris night life, Cab 6am.

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 24_August

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

EDITOR’S NOTES
florence_jones_1928[1] Florence Emery (Embry) Jones (1892-1932) was the first African-American woman to rule the Paris jazz world in the 1920s, captivating audiences at Eugene Bullard’s Le Grand Duc and at Louis Mitchell’s club in Rue Pigalle. Mitchell renamed his club, Chez Florence in 1924. To read a 1927 article from The Times click here. For more about about the importance of black jazz performers in Paris, check out Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris jazz story between the Great Wars by William A. Shack.

[sic] Although Vincent misspells words in his journal, we have kept them as he wrote them.

France | 18-19 August 1928

paris_opera_1928DATE August 18th
PLACE Avignon to Paris
The longest Ride yet 12 hours. Cool and pleasant so bearable. Staying at good hotel at Paris except that its on an awfully dark stretch. We came along the Rhone valley passing through Lyons.

Malmaison postcard 1928

Malmaison postcard 1928

1928 postcards of Versailles

1928 postcards of Versailles

DATE August 19th
PLACE Paris
Rise up early & go to Malmaison & Versaille. Malmaison was very interesting & so was the latter. Marvelous ceilings & murals by Le Brun & beautiful Gobelin tapestries. Fountains not in play but gardens magnificient. To the Hamlet where Marie A had her private home. Back to the Litre [1] in Paris. We went to a circus that night, but Lucy & I stayed in Luna Park & did all the slides [2].

Luna Park in Paris (1923)

Luna Park in Paris (192o’s)

This home movie footage from 1928 shows scenes from Malmaison, Versailles and Paris. Courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Turn the sound off or down before watching.

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

EDITOR’S NOTE
[1] The 4-star hotel Littré opened in 1924. Picasso, Matisse and Scott Fitzgerald have also stayed at the hotel, which is located between Saint Germain des Prés and Montparnasse. In 1952, soldiers from the US Air Force took over the place following diplomatic instructions, and introduced jazz and Rhythm ´n´ Blues into the place. In 1967, the hotel opened up to the public again.

[2] Vincent had a lifelong love for amusement parks and rides, especially rollercoasters. In the 1970s, he also narrated the documentary America Screams about the country’s fascination with coasters.

[sic] Although Vincent misspells words in his journal, we have kept them as he wrote them.

France | 16-17 August 1928

monte_carlo_1928DATE August 16th
PLACE Nice
Morning free. Went swimming & had lots of fun. Then to Monte Carlo after lunch & I won 100 francs. More fun. Had a date with Helen Ruth Loll and went dancing again. Monte Carlo was marvelous though it was very much out of season.

avignon_postcard_1928DATE August 17th
PLACE Nice to Avignon
Dull ride from here to there & arrived at Avignon at 3:00. We were rushed into a rubber neck bus & went to the Pope’s palace. Interesting, but tame to Rome. Rotten hotel & rotten dinner. Too tired to move afterwards. Saw the famous bridge of Avignon across the Rhone. Went through Marseillaise [1] going along the coast of the blue Mediterranean.

marseilles_1928

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

EDITOR’S NOTES
[1] Marseille not Marseillaise, which is of course the national anthem of France.

[sic] Although Vincent misspells words in his journal, we have kept them as he wrote them.

Italy to France | 13-15 August 1928

The Holy Stairs 1928DATE August 13th
PLACE Rome
Free day so I went with a bunch to the Holy stairs in the afternoon (morning just loafing) and we all kneeled up them and kissed the place where Christ’s blood dropped. Then to St. Peter’s to kiss the foot, then to the hotel.

Pisa and Genoa 1928Columbus in GenoaDATE August 14th
PLACE Rome to Genoa via Pisa
Dull ride from Rome to Pisa & Genoa. Saw the Tower [•] & then went to Nice. where we stayed at the Ruhl a very good hotel. Marie & I went to Maxims club to dance & had lots of fund. Another day ended perfectly by steady dancing from 8 to 3.

[• Vincent added this later in his journal] Then to Genoa. August 15th The next morning we went to Columbus’ birth place [2] & a general tour of the city then left after lunch for Nice.

Hotel Ruhl, Nice 1928 PostcardThis 1928 home movie footage from the Oklahoma Historical Society, sections of which have been shown in previous posts, includes scenes of Genoa.

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 13_August

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

EDITOR’S NOTES
Pisa_1928[1] It was only in 1911 (the year of Vincent’s birth) that precise measurements of the Leaning Tower of Pisa’s inclination commenced using a theodolite. In 1928, the year that Vincent and Tour 22 visited the site in Italy, four level stations were being added around the tower’s plinth level to help monitor changes in the inclination of the structure.

COLUMBUS IN GENOA
Columbus birthplace in Genoa[2] Underneath the two towers on the Via Porta in Genoa is the alleged home of Christopher Columbus, although there is much speculation about the validity of this claim. The house was destroyed in 1684 by the French, but was later rebuilt.

 

[sic] Although Vincent misspells words in his journal, we have kept them as he wrote them.

 

Vincent Price on the Eternal City and the glories of Renaissance Christendom

I Like What I Know (1959)In 1959, Vincent Price recounted his life-long passion for the art world in I Like What I Know. Here are some extracts from Price’s visual autobiography in which Price reflects on the city that became the ultimate highlight of his Seven Capitals Tour of Europe in 1928: Rome…

ON THE ETERNAL CITY AND THE GLORIES OF RENAISSANCE CHRISTENDOM
‘After Florence almost anything would have been an anticlimax. But anyone who doesn’t fall in love with Rome should have his heart examined. The names with which people label cities sometimes stretch the imagination, but Rome really does seem “eternal”. You can’t help feeling that it has always been there… and always will be.’

‘Tour 22 and our leaders leaned rather heavily on two aspects of Rome to take care of our curiosity about it – the Forum, those few remaining monument to its ancient glory, and the Church. By “the Church” I mean the glories of Renaissance Christendom… the churches of Rome. There are enough of them to satisfy anyone of any faith, and, indeed, they house greatly some of the greatest art.’

ON WHAT ART TEACHES US
‘The love of art may not be the surest way to become a millionaire, but one thing it teaches you is worth more than anything in life: tolerance. And more than tolerance… understanding.’

High Altar VaticanON THE ST PETER’S CANDLE STORY TOLD BY MOTHER
‘Mother had told me her favourite story about a little Protestant lady who, on being told that the candle at the high altar in St Peter’s had not been out for a thousand years, pursed her lips and extinguished it, saying “Well, it’s out now”. I had thought this very amusing, but when I walked through the doors of that Great Temple, the impact of its importance dispelled any kind of humor spiritually, if temporarily. There has never been anything so perfect as the scale of this church and of everything in it. The cupids holding the holy water, who seem so tiny when you enter, are my size when you reach them, face to face; the soaring canopy and twisted columns of Bernini’s great altar; the dome of Michelangelo; the tombs; the chapels and the chandeliers… perfection of proportion. It was many minutes of awed silence that it occurred to me: here I was, before the candle that hadn’t been out for a thousand years. Mother’s story crossed my mind, and I sincerely hoped that little lady (if she did exist) was safely home in Iowa, happy there, and that nothing on earth could ever bring her back to Rome to repeat that sacrilegious act.’

ON THE CHURCH OF ROME AND KEEPING AN OPEN MIND
‘Rome is the Church. Wonderful, gay, living city that it is, the wonder and majesty around which it throbs is the Church. It was the only place in Europe that to me, at that age, had not been deprived of its nobility by the passage of time, or social or political change. The kingdom of the Catholic Church remains, in all the world, the only realm that has the possibility of permanence. Other faiths will last as long, but none will ever again be able to house its monarch in such magnificence. I never would have believed it, but Rome turned out to be the high point of the whole trip. And besides the above lessons it taught me never again to go anywhere with a mind at half-mast. You’re only celebrating your own death if you do. Man has created so much beauty for so many different reasons – for everyone to enjoy and be a part of – that to shut yourself off from any section or second of it is a waste of time that hurts no one but yourself.’

Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

ON MICHELANGELO’S PIETA, THE SISTINE CHAPEL, AND MOSES
‘I was so moved by Michelangelo’s “Pietà”, I wondered how any work of his could top it. Even the “David” in Florence, heroic and masculine as it is, was pushed aside by the femininity and strength of this young Virgin and her dead son. When I was told that he had done it at the age of twenty-one, I realized that I had only five years until I reached that age, and I had no talent toward it at all. Somewhere (and it may have been there, standing before the statue that summer) it came to me that I was not going to be blessed with creative genius, and it may also have been at this moment that I made up my mind that, as long as this was true, I had darn well better compensate for it by becoming the most receptive human being I could become. I knew for sure that I liked art, and I’d better know everything I could about what I liked. I became an audience, then and there, for the drama of the eye. And once you accept that fact, it is almost impossible ever again to be bored with life. You have a built-in recipe for the cure of that most dread disease: boredom… the living death. All you gave to do is open your eyes.’

Sistine Chapel‘When you’re young, there are lots of dreams of “doors”… at least there were for me. Being the time when things are opening and shutting with more vigor than ever again, youth has the door as a symbol. But there’s one door that, once you’ve entered it, undreaming, you will dream about all your life… the little insignificant door through which you enter the Sistine Chapel.’

‘Was it done on purpose? Did the architect plan it that way – that you should leave the ordinary world through a little door as you enter the heaven of Michelangelo’s creation?… I don’t know, but nothing is made of it in the tour of the Vatican. No guard suddenly stops and says: “Through this little door is another world” or “Don’t let the size of this door fool you… you are about to be hit over the head by a giant on the other side.”

‘But that’s just what happens. Open it, and there you are, an immediate witness at the “Creation of Man”. There you are, being judged by Christ in all His glory. There you are, a midget, standing at the toes of a titan. If you entered the world of art, alone, by the back door, as I did – this is the front door, and once you open it you’re in for keeps in the greatest company you can have.’

The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo“There’s no point trying the describe it. Everyone knows how long it took him to paint it – the incredible difficulty of working directly on the moist plaster, put on daily, just enough for the day’s work; how he held the composition in his mind all those years: the thousands of sketches, cartoons, that must have gone into the preparation; the incredible story he had to tell – the Sibyls, the Prophets, the Nude Youths, the Ancestors of Christ, the Miracles of Jerusalem – the accidents and personal torments that beset him…’

Last Judgment_2‘There’s no point in anyone’s saying that this is the greatest, or the second-of-ninetieth-greatest work of art… work of man… Nothing can describe it. But when you’ve seen it, your eyes never forget it. It may slip your mind for years, but one day something great will cross your vision, and immediately your eye will compare it to this ultimate experience of art. Then there’s the “Last Judgment.” Again, no words to tell its writhing, suffering, ecstatic story… There it is!

And the “Moses”, in another church, that eternal visualization of the lawgiver. One almost suspects there was an eleventh commandment: “Let no man see Moses as he was until Michelangelo is born to see him as he will be forever, in the eyes of man”.’

‘There is, however, some solace in the “Moses” that is only a fraction of a greater plan. Michelangelo was human, after all. The great tomb he planned, of which the “Moses” was only a small part, with the “Slaves”, was never finished. He couldn’t quite people the world by himself. But he did leave something for others to do, and the second great sculptor of the Renaissance did the rest… Bernini.’

Michelangelo_Moses

Michelangelo’s Moses, Church of San Pietro, Vincoli, Rome

ON ROME WITHOUT BERNINI
–’At sixteen the fountains of Rome seemed very frivolous, compared with the Sistine Chapel. I keep referring to those sixteen years, but after so many have been piled on top of them, I have to keep reminding myself that, in these chapters, I’m writing about those reactions, and not my older – much older – ones. What it boils down to is another proof of the living quality of all art. It is never static. What surprised you yesterday, you take in your stride tomorrow. What seemed frivolous at sixteen is very profound at forty-five. And that was the case with Bernini’s sculpture. But I know now that Rome is not complete without either of these masters. Rome without Bernini would be as empty as Rome with Michelangelo.’

Italy | 11-12 August 1928

Rome_CollageDate August 11th
PLACE Rome
Rome the eternal city the mother of Christianity the center of antiquity consumes four days well deserved.

• The Sistine chapel is very beautiful as is all the work of Michelango.
• Visted Emanuel II buried in Parnthenon.
• In church of Quo Vadis there is the place where Jesus appeared to St Peter.
St John the Lateran is one of many churches in Rome contains the heads of St Peter & St Paul & the holy table the Baptistry contains the place where Constantine stood & the singing doors.

Panthenon_Latern_Bapistery

St Pius V_Saint_Peter_in_ChainsDATE August 12th
PLACE Rome
The second days sight seeing tour.

• In St Pauls [1] there is a glass case in which the body of St Pius V is held… on his finger is a very large diamond & his original vestments are on him… he wears a silver mask.
• In St Peters one half of the bodies of St Peter & St Paul are kept.
• Caputian church contains Guido Reni‘s famous Saint Michael & the decorations with skulls.
• Saw Saint Peters Church & many things Forum of Trajan where 85 cats now live. Got special permit to go thru Kings palace. St Mary the Greater has the ceiling made of solid gold brought by Columbus from his first trip to America. In the church of Saint Peter in Chains the original chains are preserved with which St Peter was bound & above Michelangelo’s famous Moses. In St Pauls the other half of the bodies of the two Saints are ???? [2]. This is a new church & very beautiful in its simplicity. The mosaic of St Peter contains diamonds for his eyes.

WATCH A FILM FROM 1928
This 1928 silent movie from the Oklahoma Historical Society, sections of which have appeared in previous posts, follows the same route that Vincent’s tour took of Rome. Turn down or off the sound before viewing.

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 11_August

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

EDITOR’S NOTE
These pages in Vincent’s journal are made up of notes about the sites of the city that Vincent and his tour visted, written around a cutting from the tour guide.
[1] Santa Maria Maggiore
[2] I have yet to work out which Saint’s Vincent refers to here. Can you help?

[sic] Although Vincent misspells words in his journal, we have kept them as he wrote them.

Vincent Price on Pompeii and ‘feelthy’ frescoes

I Like What I Know (1959)In 1959, Vincent Price recounted his life-long passion for the art world in I Like What I Know. Here are some extracts from Price’s visual autobiography in which Price recalls his impression of Pompeii during his 1928 European tour…

‘Naples was an obvious letdown after the Eternal City, but Pompeii was much more exciting than ancient Rome. The ancient parts of Rome – the Forum, the Coliseum – are grand and impressive, but in Pompeii you really step back into the period immediately after Christ and feel part of it, not only because of the fantastic state of preservation, but because the real charm, the real reality of any period – old or modern – is not to be found in the capital, the great city, but in the typical smaller cities. I doubt it walking through the ruins of New York would possibly tell us as much about American as would the ruins of Cleveland or Kansas City or Seattle.’

‘Pompeii is wonderful, and, of course, at that time, for a boy of sixteen the ‘feelthy’ frescoes of Pompeii were really ‘jazzy.’ And for a young blond girl with a slight southern accent… very good for the powers of suggestion and attendant undecorum.’

Italy | 9-10 August 1928

capri_1928_postcardDATE August 9th
PLACE Sorrento to Capri
Left the hotel early & took a boat to Capri. A beautiful & cool ride. We went in the Blue Grotto & had lots of fun then to Capri for lunch afterwards shopping & up the mountain for a view. Catch the boat to Naples staying at same hotel. Nothing to do after dinner.

This home video film footage from 1928 (courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society) includes scenes of Naples and Capri that Vincent’s tour also visited the same year.

naples_1928_postcardDATE August 10th
PLACE Naples – Rome
This morning we took a sight seeing tour of Naples visiting the museum where most the relics of Pompeii & Herculeum are housed. After lunch the train to Rome. Arrive Rome for dinner. After dinner a raffle of a cameo more fun.

Rome_1928_postcard

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 9_August

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

EDITOR’S NOTES
• Check out the official website for the Museo Archeologico Nazionale.
• Vincent’s tour would spend the next four days in Rome, staying at the Hotel Ludovisi, still one of the top hotels in the city today. Click here to view the website.

[sic] Although Vincent misspells words in his journal, we have kept them as he wrote them.