Joshua Reynolds, fully Sir Joshua Reynolds

Reynolds, fully Sir Joshua Reynolds

English Portrait Painter and Writer

Author Quotes

Those who are not conversant in works of art are often surprised at the high value set by connoisseurs on drawings which appear careless, and in every respect unfinished; but they are truly valuable... they give the idea of a whole.

Those who, either from their own engagements and hurry of business, or from indolence, or from conceit and vanity, have neglected looking out of themselves, as far as my experience and observation reach, have from that time not only ceased to advance, and improve in their performances, but have gone backward. They may be compared to men who have lived upon their principal, till they are reduced to beggary, and left without resources.

Though color may appear at first a part of painting merely mechanical, yet it still has its rules, and those grounded upon that presiding principle which regulates both the great and the little in the study of a painter.

Though it be allowed that elaborate harmony of coloring, a brilliancy of tints, a soft and gradual transition from one to another, present not to the eye what an harmonious concert of music does to the ear; it must be remembered that painting is not merely a gratification of sight.

We should, to the last moment of our lives, continue a settled intercourse with all the true examples of grandeur.

What has pleased and continues to please, is likely to please again; hence are derived the rules of art, and on this immovable foundation they must ever stand.

Whatever trips you make, you must still have nature in your eye.

While I recommend studying the art from artists, Nature is and must be the fountain which alone is inexhaustible, and from which all excellences must originally flow.

Whoever has so far formed his taste as to be able to relish and feel the beauties of the great masters, has gone a great way in his study.

Words should be employed as the means, not the end; language is the instrument, conviction is the work.

You are never to lose sight of nature; the instant you do, you are all abroad, at the mercy of every gust of fashion, without knowing or seeing the point to which you ought to steer.

Certainly, nothing can be more simple than monotony.

If a portrait-painter is desirous to raise and improve his subject, he has no other means than by approaching it to a general idea; he leaves out all the minute breaks and peculiarities in the face, and changes the dress from a temporary fashion to one more permanent, which has annexed to it no ideas of meanness from its being familiar to us.

Martial music has sudden and strongly marked transitions from one note to another which that style of music requires; while in that which is intended to move the softer passions, the notes imperceptibly melt into one another.

The distinct blue, red, and yellow colors... though they have not the kind of harmony which is produced by a variety of broken and transparent colors, have the effect of grandeur.

There can be no doubt but that he who has the most materials has the greatest means of invention...

Claude Lorrain, on the contrary, was convinced that taking nature as he found it seldom produced beauties: his pictures are a composition of the various draughts which he has previously made from various beautiful scenes and prospects.

If deceiving the eye were the only business of the art... the minute painter would be more apt to succeed. But it is not the eye, it is the mind which the painter of genius desires to address.

No art can be grafted with success on another art. For though they all profess the same origin, and to proceed from the same stock, yet each has its own peculiar modes both of imitating nature and of deviating from it... The deviation, more especially, will not bear transplantation to another soil.

The first degree of proficiency is, in painting, what grammar is in literature, a general preparation for whatever species of the art the student may afterwards choose for his more particular application. The power of drawing, modeling, and using colors is very properly called the language of the art.

Common observation and a plain understanding is the source of all art.

If it [refinement] does not lead directly to purity of manners, [it] obviates at least their greatest depravation.

Nothing can be made of nothing; he who has laid up no material can produce no combination.

The general ideas which are expressed in sketches, correspond very well to the art often used in poetry... every reader making out the detail according to his own particular imagination... but a painter, when he represents Eve on canvas, is obliged to give a determined form, and his own idea of beauty distinctly expressed.

Could we teach taste or genius by rules, they would be no longer taste and genius.

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Reynolds, fully Sir Joshua Reynolds
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English Portrait Painter and Writer