A Group of Genoese by Thomas Nast, in the American Household Edition of The Works of Charles Dickens (New York: Harper & Bros., 1877), p. 18.

Bibliographical Note

The illustration appears in the American Edition of Charles Dickens's Pictures from Italy, Sketches, and American Notes, fifth chapter, "Genoa and its Neighborhood," p. 18. Wood-engraving, 4 by 5 ¼ inches (9.8 cm high by 13.4 cm wide), vignetted. New York: Harper & Bros., Franklin Square, 1877.

Scanned image, colour correction, sizing, caption, and commentary by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose, as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image, and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Passage Realized: First Impressions of Genoa

On a summer evening the Genoese are as fond of putting themselves, as their ancestors were of putting houses, in every available inch of space in and about the town. In all the lanes and alleys, and up every little ascent, and on every dwarf wall, and on every flight of steps, they cluster like bees. [Chapter 5, "Genoa and its Neighborhood," p. 25]

Commentary: A Picture without an Accompanying Text

Although Dickens focuses on the streets and Genoa's general lack of sanitation, he finds the diversity of the people fascinating. On the page where this illustration appears, however, there is no corresponding passage. Rather, Nast synthesizes Dickens's impressions in order to introduce Household Edition readers to the city that would become the Dickens family's home base for their Italian travels. Nast makes the Genoese caricature rather than characters, but conveys a sense of the intense communal life of the street through the various images behind the two central figures: a man in a straw hat and breeches washes his hands at the lion-headed water-fountain to the left; the outline of a donkey's head appears just up left; and, to the right, the presence of a monk establishes that this is definitely not a contemporary English scene.

Relevant Marcus Stone illustrations for Pictures from Italy

Related Material


Dickens, Charles. Chapter 4, "Genoa and its Neighborhood." Pictures from Italy, Sketches by Boz, and American Notes. Illustrated by A. B. Frost and Thomas Nast. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1877. Pp. 19-32.

Dickens, Charles. Pictures from Italy and American Notes. Illustrated by A. B. Frost and Gordon Thomson. London: Chapman and Hall, 1880. Pp. 1-381.

Orestano, Francesca. "Charles Dickens and Italy: The 'New Picturesque'.” Dickens and Italy: Little Dorrit and Pictures from Italy, ed. Michael Hollington and Francesca Orestano. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars, 2009. Pp. 49-67.

Last modified 29 September 2019