Excepts from his interview with the New York Tribune, upon his arrival in the US in 1902
“Let me first state what you have probably observed, if you have been in Europe,” he said. “and what you have read about, anyway. London, Paris, Vienna, Venice, but most particularly London, have their peculiar odors, which one whose nose is sensitive to smells soon learns to know, and forever after associates with the cities, never for an instant confusing one with the other. The smell of London is particularly pungent, and rather unpleasant, due, I suppose, to the smoke.”
“But I can assure you that New York has its own characteristic smell, just as much as London or Paris or Venice. As my steamer came up the bay, out of the weeks run in the Atlantic, my nostrils suddenly filled with an entirely new smell. It was like nothing I had ever smelled before - at least it was not the same thing that I had smelled. I took a deep inhalation and cried: Ah! a new sensation! Here is New York; I smell it; I shall always know it now!”
“What is this smell like?” the New Yorker asked.
“Well, said Sir Philip, I can’t describe it. It is not at all unpleasant, rather the opposite. It approximates a perfume, in fact. It is more like the smell of Paris than anything else I know - due to the clear atmosphere of both cities, the absence of smoke, I presume. Nor can one detect the the odor of cooking, which must play a part in the final composition of this perfume that emanates from and saturates every part of your great, hiving city.”
“Yes,” said the artist, “every town has its characteristic smell, as well as its conduct. I am going to Boston soon. I will watch for the New England smell.”
PRSUS / Number 47 / Fall 2017
We welcome essays for the PRS Review's upcoming Special Issue on Ford Madox Brown, being produced to coincide with the bicentenary of the artist's birth. Word length should be a maximum of 3,000 words (but we welcome shorter pieces too). Please email material, ideas and any queries to Katja Robinson firstname.lastname@example.org Deadline for submissions is 1st September 2021.