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

Vincent Price on Paris, the Louvre and Ethel Barrymore

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. In these final extracts from his visual autobiography, Vincent reflects back on his first time visiting Paris during a hot August in 1928…

‘For my money, the most exciting thing about Paris was the boat ride across the channel. I hated Paris then, though I’ve learned to love it. I’m sure it’s not a city for the very young. At sixteen (even at six feet one) you’re too young to night club and too hungry too enjoy the paradise of French cuisine.’

‘At sixteen I resented the French for having torn down the Bastille, for burying Napoleon in a sarcophagus which gave you no idea of his size; for killing King Louis and Marie Antoinette; for having perfected champagne, which gave me my first hang-over; and for their language, which even the children could speak and which had me so confused that no matter what I ordered on any menu, it turned out brains.’

‘I’ll admit the Louvre was impressive, but I missed the clutter of the British Museum and I missed the kings. I would have forgone its treasures gladly, if those golden sovereigns still held sway. And after the Elgin Marbles, the “Winged Victory” looked much too fussy – as if she were in a hurry to get out to lunch – or like those chiffony leading ladies who always come on stage, no matter where they have just exited, by floating down the stairs. She reminded me of Ethel Barrymore, without her head (which was the best part of Ethel, because that’s where her voice lived), making an entrance in the play, The Constant Wife.’

‘I’ve had to eat my opinions, which always taste worse than words, but I hated Paris. The whole effect was a forced laugh, and I only learned to appreciate it years later when my own laugh was a little forced too, and hers seemed more familiar.’

Vincent Price on Reims Cathedral

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 is an extract from his visual autobiography in which he recalls his visit Reims Cathedral in August 1928…

ON REIMS CATHEDRAL
‘I loved the Rheims Cathedral, mainly because it had been bombed. Only the first dollars of the Rockefeller money had been spent to start to restore it, and it was still a shambles. But somehow you could see how it had been when those legions of artisans, so many centuries before, had worked on it to pile it there. There is always something really religious about a church being built. Of most churches, I feel that when people have finished working on them, they often have finished worshipping in them as well. They seem to sit and contemplate what has been done and thought before. We were told how long and how much love it had taken to build it, originally, and I was pleased to see that loving going on again. I remember a stonecutter, copying a postcard of a figure, which had been destroyed, and inside, in the great nave, the sky came in. The sun was bright without that sieve of roses to strain through. It was a skeleton of faith, something essential and historical, but still new. I loved Rheims, too, because it was the only French city I saw that wasn’t half hysterical with hurry. The smiles seemed genuine… and I found a menu without brains.’

Reims Cathedral WW1

Vincent Price on Pisa’s Leaning Tower, artless Monaco, and romance in Nice

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 passaged from Price’s visual autobiography in which he looks back on leaving Italy for Monaco and Nice in August 1928…

‘We were nearing the end of Tour 22. The train sped through Pisa, where we could see the Leaving Tower lean, and through Genoa, where we could see boats that reminded us that before long, we’d be on one and on our way back home. And pleasantly enough, the tour gave us the seventh country in the form of that minute monarchy, Monaco. It represented the complete escape from the world of art. There’s none there… only the amazing ingenuity of man’s triumph over a hill, rising out of the sea. He had covered it completely with as mad an assortment of houses of pleasure and peace to be found anywhere on earth.’

‘Finally, two days in Nice, and then to Paris, the boat, and home. I spent those two days in Nice not in the pursuit of the beautiful (though she was very pretty), but in the study and exploration of the human body. Since I had dedicated myself to the world of art, I could hardly do better than to study seriously art’s greatest course of inspiration – the female form.’

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.’

Vincent Price on Titian, Tintoretto, cheap hotels and St Mark’s Square in Venice

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 a 48-year-old Price reflects back on his two-day stay in Venice in August, 1928…

ON REACHING VENICE
‘On our itinerary Tour 22 offered no diamond in its glamorous array to touch the hope of Italy. If you’re in love with art, the honeymoon is there. All other art seems distant and a little strange without the eyes of Italy to see it through. You may have scattered affairs with other arts – deep passions, even – but the golden wedding partner is waiting for you at home in Italy.’

‘The moment came. We tool the train to Venice. Continents of natural beauties lay between: the Dolomites, the mountains, lakes, lovely towns. But dreams of Venice blinded me, and I’ll never forget, for all this poetic dreaming, the force with which the squalor of Venice hit me. On a tour like ours – so cheap, so all-inclusive – the economy was hotels. In any language, we found ourselves at the Hotel du Gare… next door to the station. This was an easy way to keep us all together, and to get us off for the next place. For comfort, nothing could compare to them. They had none. The food was miserable, the beds were hard, and the baths so involved and tepid that you almost preferred to stay dirty. But I must say they were good places with which to compare the rest of the surroundings! Almost anything looked glorious, in comparison. All over Europe they were the same – especially in color. Soot. Brown.’

‘Venice, from the station hotel, could be Hoboken with wet pavements. Arriving as we did in the dead of night, one had the suspicion that the advertised beauties of this gem of the Adriatic were elsewhere. Maybe another fourteen-hour train trip away?… Even the Venetian morning light lent little glamour to the scene around the station. You could only hope that such glamorous items such as gondolas did exist, since only some shabby, high-prowed canoes were anchored in front.’

ON ST MARK’S SQUARE
‘Sure enough, Venice did exist. We cruised down the Grand Canal and there was the Rialto, the ‘business end’ of Venus, as some wag had put it. And farther on, the canal became wider and we could see the domes of St Mark’s and the campanile, pointing above everything to that incredible blue sky.’

‘What a wonderful square that is, St Mark’s… and those damned pigeons… and those four glorious horses, prancing on the balcony; then, of course, St Mark’s lion, high on his column, looking back – keeping his eye of the pigeons. The Palace of the Doges and the Bridge of Sighs, and once again the feeling of loss that those glamorous barbarians had moved away, and other times (even if for the better) had forever exiled the pageantry of nobility.’

ON TITIAN AND TINTORETTO
‘There were two painters on the grand scale who knocked one down: Titian and, again, Tintoretto. Guardi and Canaletto certainly tell us the everyday story of their day in Venice, but Titian, in those majestic portraits, and Tintoretto, in his attempt to populate the Doges Palace with the Heavenly Host itself – sacred and profane – they were the genuine echoes of the glorious past. And Tintoretto had another quality that was almost his alone: he could paint flight. He could make a human being soar through the air, light as a bird, light as light.’

ON LEAVING VENICE IN A HURRY
‘Vence was almost too much for a sixteen-year-old, falling in love with art, and the hotel by the station, on the sewer canal, was altogether too much. So I got permission to leave the tour and go to Florence a day ahead of schedule. I took the night train alone, and naturally. I went third class…’

Find out what happened next, tomorrow.