English Portrait Painter and Writer
Joshua Reynolds, fully Sir Joshua Reynolds
English Portrait Painter and Writer
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.
Art in its perfection is not ostentatious; it lies hid and works its effect, itself unseen.
I can recommend nothing better... than that you endeavor to infuse into your works what you learn from the contemplation of the works of others.
It is to Titian we must turn our eyes to find excellence with regard to color, and light and shade, in the highest degree. He was both the first and the greatest master of this art. By a few strokes he knew how to mark the general image and character of whatever object he attempted...
Reformation is a work of time. A national taste, however wrong it may be, cannot be totally changed at once; we must yield a little to the prepossession which has taken hold on the mind, and we may then bring people to adopt what would offend them if endeavored to be introduced by violence.
The true test of all the arts is not solely whether the production is a true copy of nature, but whether it answers the end of art, which is to produce a pleasing effect upon the mind.
But young men have not only this frivolous ambition of being thought masters of execution, inciting them on the one hand, but also their natural sloth tempting them on the other. They are terrified at the prospect before them, of the toil required to attain exactness. The impetuosity of youth is disgusted at the slow approaches of a regular siege, and desires, from mere impatience of labour, to take the citadel by storm. They wish to find some shorter path to excellence, and hope to obtain the reward of eminence by other means, than those which the indispensable rules of art have prescribed.
I do not see in what manner practice alone can be sufficient for the production of correct, excellent, and finished pictures. Works deserving this character never were produced, nor ever will arise, from memory alone...
It is vain for painters... to endeavor to invent without materials on which the mind may work.
Simplicity is an exact medium between too little and too much
The value and rank of every art is in proportion to the mental labor employed in it, or the mental pleasure in producing it.
By close inspection... you will discover the manner of handling the artifices of contrast, glazing, and other expedients, by which good colorists have raised the value of their tints, and by which nature has been so happily imitated.
I have heard painters acknowledge, though in that acknowledgment no degradation of themselves was intended, that they could do better without nature than with her; or as they express themselves, 'that it only put them out.'
It requires the nicest judgment to dispose the drapery so that the folds shall have an easy communication, and gracefully follow each other with such natural negligence as to look like the effect of chance, and at the same time show the figure under it to the greatest advantage.
Style in painting is the same as in writing,--a power over materials, whether words or colors, by which conceptions or sentiments are conveyed.