English Portrait Painter and Writer
Joshua Reynolds, fully Sir Joshua Reynolds
English Portrait Painter and Writer
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.
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.
A passion for his art, and an eager desire to excel, will more than supply an artist with the place of method.
Genius is supposed to be a power of producing excellences which are out of the reach of the rules of art: a power which no precepts can teach, and which no industry can acquire.
It is but a poor eloquence which only shows that the orator can talk
Our studies will be forever, in a very great degree, under the direction of chance; like travelers, we must take what we can get, and when we can get it – whether it is or is not administered to us in the most commodious manner, in the most proper place, or at the exact minute when we would wish to have it.
The human face is my landscape.
All the gestures of children are graceful; the reign of distortion and unnatural attitudes commences with the introduction of the dancing master.
Grandeur of effect is produced by two different ways which seem entirely opposed to each other. One is by reducing the colors to little more than chiaroscuro... and the other, by making the colors very distinct and forcible... but still, the presiding principle of both those manners is simplicity.
It is by being conversant with the inventions of others that we learn to invent, as by reading the thoughts of others we learn to think.
Perhaps blue, red, and yellow strike the mind more forcibly from there not being any great union between them, as martial music, which is intended to rouse the nobler passions...
The mind is but a barren soil – a soil which is soon exhausted, and will produce no crop, or only one, unless it be continually fertilized and enriched with foreign matter.
An artist who brings to his work a mind tolerably furnished with the general principles of art, and a taste formed upon the works of good artists – in short, who knows in what excellence consists – will, with the assistance of models... be an overmatch for the greatest painter that ever lived who should be debarred such advantages.
He who resolves never to ransack any mind but his own, will be soon reduced, from mere barrenness, to the poorest of all imitations; he will be obliged to imitate himself, and to repeat what he has before often repeated.
It is impossible that anything will be well understood or well done that is taken into a reluctant understanding, and executed with a servile hand.
Raphael and Titian seem to have looked at Nature for different purposes; they both had the power of extending their view to the whole; but one looked only for the general effect as produced by form, the other as produced by color.