Bernard Berenson


American Art Historian Specializing in the Renaissance, Major figure in pioneering art attribution and therefore establishing the market for paintings by the "Old Masters"

Author Quotes

Enemies could become the best companions. Companionship is based on a common interest, and the greater the interest the closer the companionship. What makes enemies of people, if not the eagerness, the passion for the same thing?

It is a library with living rooms attached. [Describing his house]

We usually meet all of our relatives only at funerals where somebody always observes: "Too bad we can't get together more often".

From childhood on I have had the dream of life lived as a sacrament... the dream implied taking life ritually as something holy.

It makes me happy to encounter goodness, love of work, humane intelligence, and people no matter at what kind of job, be it ever so humble, or ever so exalted, who do it well and con amore.

When everything else physical and mental seems to diminish, the appreciation of beauty is on the increase.

Genius is the capacity for productive reaction against one's training.

It was a morning in early summer. A silver haze shimmered and trembled over the lime trees. The air was laden with their fragrance. The temperature was like a caress. I remember - I need not recall - that I climbed up a tree stump and felt suddenly immersed in Itness. I did not call it by that name. I had no need for words. It and I were one.

Who will free me from hurry, flurry, the feeling of a crowd pushing behind me, of being hustled and crushed? How can I regain even for a minute the feeling of ample leisure I had during my early, my creative years? Then I seldom felt fussed, or hurried. There was time for work, for play, for love, the confidence that if a task was not done at the appointed time, I easily could fit it into another hour. I used to take leisure for granted, as I did time itself.

German is of stone, limestone, pudding stone, marble, granite even, and so to a considerable degree is English, whereas French is bronze and gives out a metallic resonance with tones that neither German nor English tolerate.

Life has taught me that it is not for our faults that we are disliked and even hated, but for our qualities.

You can parody and make fun of almost anything, but that does not turn the universe into a caricature.

Government is the art of the momentary feasible, of the least bad attainable, and not of the rationally most desirable.

Literature in its most comprehensive sense is the autobiography of humanity.

Government lasts as long as the under-taxed can defend themselves against the over-taxed.

Miracles happen to those who believe in them.

Governments last only as long as the undertaxed can defend themselves against the overtaxed

No artifact is a work of art if it does not help to humanize us. Without art...our world would have remained a jungle.

I am only a picture-taster, the way others are wine- or tea-tasters.

Not what man knows but what man feels, concerns art. All else is science.

I never felt that there was anything enviable in youth. I cannot recall that any of us, as youths, admired our condition to excess or had a desire to prolong it.

Pessimism like calumny is easy to do, and attracts immediate attention. The gossiper and the writer may find this out soon enough, and a little encouragement from the current mood will procure them successes that bring endless imitators in their trail. On the other hand saying good things about life in general and individuals in particular and making it interesting is a serious task which few can achieve with credit.

I walk in the garden, I look at the flowers and shrubs and trees and discover in them an exquisiteness of contour, a vitality of edge, or a vigour of spring, as well as an infinite variety of colour that no artefact I have seen in the last sixty years can rival...each day, as I look, I wonder where my eyes were yesterday.

Psychoanalysts are not occupied with the minds of their patients; they do not believe in the mind but in a cerebral intestine.

All of the arts, poetry, music, ritual, the visible arts, the theater, must singly and together create the most comprehensive art of all, a humanized society, and its masterpiece, free man.

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American Art Historian Specializing in the Renaissance, Major figure in pioneering art attribution and therefore establishing the market for paintings by the "Old Masters"