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Eugene Labiche travel diaries, "Voyage en Italie"

Ms. Coll. 1391

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

Repository:
University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Creator:
Labiche, Eugène, 1815-1888
Creator:
Nadar, Félix, 1820-1910
Title:
Eugene Labiche travel diaries, "Voyage en Italie"
Date:
1934 January 26-August 15
Call Number:
Ms. Coll. 1391
Extent:
1 linear foot (2 boxes)
Language:
French
Language Note:
In French.
Abstract:
Eugène Labiche (1815-1888) was a French comic playwright known for popular and amusing comedies who traveled to Italy in 1834 at the age of 18. He recorded the daily experiences of his journey through the south of France, Italy, and Switzerland in 44 rough notebooks and 2 fair copy notebooks. His friend, Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (1820-1910), more commonly (and much more famously) known as Nadar, helped Labiche make a fair copy of a portion of his travel diary from his notes and provided a few illustrations in the 2 volumes.
Cite as:
Eugene Labiche travel diaries, "Voyage en Italie," 1834 January 26-August 15, Ms. Coll. 1391, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania
PDF Version:

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Biography/History

Eugène Labiche (1815-1888) was a French comic playwright known for popular and amusing comedies, such as The Italian Straw Hat (Un chapeau de paille d’Italie) (1851), Maman Sabouleux (1852), L’Affaire de la rue de Lourcine (1857), Les Deux Timides (1860), Le Voyage de monsieur Perrichon (1860), La Poudre aux yeux (1861), La Cagnotte (1864), and Les Trente Millions de Gladiator (1875). His father was a prosperous Parisian grocer, who allowed Labiche to take a six and a half month journey to Italy with several of his friends.

In 1834, at the age of 18, Labiche toured Italy, leaving Paris in January and returning to his home in August. Over the course of the trip, he visited Lyon, Avignon, Marseille, the Riviera, and Nice, en route to Italy; Genoa, Livorno, Pisa, Florence, Siena, Rome, Naples, Sicily, Venice, Verona, and Milan, in Italy; and Switzerland, on his way back to France. During his visits to cities, he conscientiously recorded his experiences, including adventures, accommodations, food, museums, culture, social interactions, and history. He traveled with friends (Monsieur Kell, Edouard [last name unknown], and Alphonse Leveaux, in particular) whom he mentions frequently in his diaries. His recordings were transferred from rough notes (44 small paper-bound volumes) into 2 hard bound volumes, some of which was copied by Labiche, and some of which was copied by his friend, Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (1820-1910), more commonly (and much more famously) known as Nadar, and possibly by a third person. It is unclear if Nadar traveled with Labiche or was simply asked to make a fair copy of his notes.

Labiche and Nadar appear to have remained friends throughout their lives. In 1870, Nadar photographed Labiche and in 1880, Nadar described Labiche’s journals as remarkably picturesque and full of observations. In addition to making a fair copy of Labiche’s rough notes, Nadar provided a few illustrations on the fly-leaves and title pages.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of 2 fair copy notebooks and 44 rough notebooks, written in French, documenting Eugène Labiche’s 1834 journey through the south of France, Italy, and Switzerland. During the six and a half month journey, Labiche recorded his experiences nearly every day.

The collection is arranged in two series: I. "Voyage en Italie," fair copy and II. Original travel notes. The fair copy was taken from the original travel notes. The first 118 pages of the first volume of the fair copy was written in Labiche’s hand. Nadar commenced copying mid-entry and completed the first volume and began the second. It is possible that a third, unidentified copier, completed the second volume. Nadar added a watercolor decorative title page to the second volume, and there are unsigned sketches and a decorative initial in both volumes that were probably drawn by Nadar.

The original travel notes are written in pencil and are often difficult, but not impossible, to read. Each volume, stitched in its original blue paper wrappers, was numbered by Labiche and was probably written in throughout each day. Entries are written largely in complete sentences, but there is little punctuation in these rough copies (although the fair copies are liberal with multiple exclamation points). They were clearly never intended to be Labiche's final version.

On a daily basis, in both the fair copy and the original travel notes, Labiche recorded the date, when he awoke, and what he did. He frequently included a report on the weather, how well he slept, where he ate, and what he ate. He described transportation, custom points, fellow travelers, street scenes, his accommodations, tourist sites, museums, reading, his health, and occasionally, his encounters with women. When visiting certain museums (such as the Ufizzi and the Pitti Palace), Labiche’s descriptions are extremely detailed, with descriptions of each gallery.

Labiche departed from Paris on January 26 and spent much of February traveling through France making stops in Lyon, Vaucluse, Remoulins, Nimes, Marseille, Toulon, and Nice. He left France from Nice, via a boat to Genoa.

In March, Labiche began his journey in Italy visiting Genoa (where they saw a Mary Magdalene by Titian in the Palazzo Durazzo and he and his friends visited a brothel), Livorno, Pisa (where he visited the leaning tower, the cathedral, and the baptistery), and Florence. They remained in Florence from about March 9 to 15, and a highlight of that visit appears to have been the Ufizzi on March 11, where they saw Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo (Holy Family) and Venus by Titian, which is described in detail (in notebook 44 and the first volume of the fair copy). In addition, Labiche and his friends visited the Duomo, the Laurentian Library, and another brothel. From Florence, they traveled through Sienna before stopping in Rome from mid-March to mid-April. While in Rome, Labiche and friends visited the Forum, St. Peter’s, the Sistine Chapel, the Coliseum, the Trevi fountains, the Borghese gallery, and the catacombs. They also made short trips to the surrounding countryside. The group left Rome on April 13 and arrived in Naples on the 15th, where they climbed Mount Vesuvius and Labiche fell in love with Louise, who he met in a bordello. The group then traveled to Sicily where they remained until the end of May. Labiche and his friends returned to Naples from the end of May until June 12, traveling again through Rome and Florence (visiting the Pitti Palace) before arriving in Venice (riding in gondolas, visiting the theatre, monuments, the Café Florian, and swimming at the beaches. From there, Labiche continued through Italy, visiting Verona and Milan.

Towards the end of July, Labiche was in Switzerland, first at Voltaire’s former home at Ferney, noting the beautiful scenery, and then in Fribourg. By August 15, Labiche had returned to Paris, happy to be home despite his many adventures. These volumes provide a valuable glimpse into travel in the 19th century; the impressions of a young, prosperous French gentleman; and the free and joyous writing of one of France’s beloved playwrights in the years before his fame.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts,  2018 March 29

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Holly Mengel

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Source of Acquisition

Sold by Justin Croft Antiquarian Books, 2018.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

At Miami University Libraries, Walter Havighurst Special Collections: Labiche –Leveaux papers, 1830-1887

At the University of Pennsylvania, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts: Nadar autograph album, 1853-1875, Ms. Coll. 21

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Controlled Access Headings

Form/Genre(s)
  • Diaries
  • Sketches
Geographic Name(s)
  • France--Description and travel--19th century
  • Italy--Description and travel--19th century
  • Switzerland--Description and travel--19th century
Personal Name(s)
  • Leveaux, Alphonse, 1810-
Subject(s)
  • Manners and customs
  • Voyages and travels

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Collection Inventory

Series I. "Voyage en Italie," fair copy.

Box Folder

Volume 1, 1834 January-May.

1 1

Volume 2, 1834 May-August.

1 2

Series II. Original travel notes.

Box Folder

Notebook 1, 1834 January 26-February 9.

1 3

Notebook 2, 1834 February 9-13.

1 3

Notebook 3, 1834 February 14-21.

1 3

Notebook 4, 1834 February 21-25.

1 3

Notebook 5, 1834 February 26-March 2.

1 3

Notebook 6, 1834 March 2-5.

1 4

Notebook 7, 1834 March 6-9.

1 4

Notebook 8, 1834 March 9-13.

1 4

Notebook 44, 1834 March 11.

2 5

Notebook 9, 1834 March 13-17.

1 4

Notebook 10, 1834 March 18-22.

1 4

Notebook 11, 1834 March 23-26.

1 5

Notebook 12, 1834 March 27-30.

1 5

Notebook 13, 1834 March 30- April 2.

1 5

Notebook 14, 1834 April 2-5.

1 5

Notebook 15, 1834 April 6-8.

1 5

Notebook 16, 1834 April 9-11.

1 6

Notebook 17, 1834 April 11-13.

1 6

Notebook 18, 1834 April 13-17.

1 6

Notebook 19, 1834 April 17-23.

1 6

Notebook 20, 1834 April 23-29.

1 6

Notebook 21, 1834 April 29-May 7.

2 1

Notebook 22, 1834 May 7-14.

2 1

Notebook 23, 1834 May 15-20.

2 1

Notebook 24, 1834 May 20-27.

2 1

Notebook 25, 1834 May 28-30.

2 1

Notebook 26, 1834 May 31- June 1.

2 2

Notebook 27, 1834 June 2-4.

2 2

Notebook 28, 1834 June 4-5.

2 2

Notebook 29, 1834 June 6-9.

2 2

Notebook 30, 1834 June 9-15.

2 2

Notebook 31, 1834 June 16-22.

2 3

Notebook 32, 1834 June 22-24.

2 3

Notebook 33, 1834 June 25-28.

2 3

Notebook 34, 1834 June 28-30.

2 3

Notebook 35, 1834 June 30-July 2.

2 3

Notebook 36, 1834 July 2-9.

2 4

Notebook 37, 1834 July 10-15.

2 4

Notebook 38, 1834 July 15-20.

2 4

Notebook 39, 1834 July 20-26.

2 4

Notebook 40, 1834 July 26-30.

2 4

Notebook 41, 1834 July 31- August 3.

2 5

Notebook 42, 1834 August 4-13.

2 5

Notebook 43, 1834 August 13-15.

2 5