The Mark Twain Papers & Project - Exhibit - Mark Twain Takes on Art - The "Untrained" Eye Sees a "Smoked Haddock" </font></b></CENTER> <p>


The "Untrained" Eye Sees a "Smoked Haddock"

In "The Innocents Adrift," a fictionalized account of his 1891 boat trip down the Rhone River, Mark Twain admitted to being puzzled by the adulation accorded Leonardo's Mona Lisa. To him, it seems "merely a good representation of a serene & subdued face. . . . The complexion was bad; in fact it was not even human; there are no people of that color." One of his companions even characterizes the painting as "that smoked haddock!" After some discussion, the travelers concede that it requires a "trained eye" to appreciate certain aspects of art.
      Albert Bigelow Paine published a much abridged and edited version of "The Innocents Adrift" as "Down the Rhône" in 1923. The original 174-page manuscript, left unfinished by Mark Twain, is in the Mark Twain Papers.

Mona Lisa
Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa. 1503-1506. Louvre, Paris. Scan by Mark Harden.

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