C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


The perfection of art is to conceal art.


Art needs no spur beyond itself.

Victor Hugo.

Art does not imitate, but interpret.


He that sips of many arts drinks of none.


The great artist is the slave of his ideal.


Art, however innocent, looks like deceiving.

Aaron Hill.

The inglorious arts of peace.

Andrew Marvell.

An artist should have more than two eyes.


What is art? Nature concentrated.


Art is power.


Unless art deceives, it is not art.

W. L. Reiner.

Every artist was first an amateur.


A picture is a poem without words.


Art is the gift of God, and must be used unto His glory.


Art is not imitation, but illusion.

Charles Reade.

The highest art is artlessness.

F. A. Durivage.

The true artist can only labor con amore.

Victor Hugo.

Art may err, but nature cannot miss.


Art still followed where Rome’s eagles flew.


It was Homer who gave laws to the artist.

Francis Wayland.

The artist belongs to his work, not the work to the artist.


The first essential to success in the art you practice is respect for the art itself.


Seraphs share with thee knowledge; but art, O man, is thine alone!


Painters and poets have equal license in regard to everything.


I think sculpture and painting have an effect to teach us manners, and abolish hurry.


Many persons feel art, some understand it; but few both feel and understand it.


  • The counterfeit and counterpart
  • Of Nature reproduced in art.
  • Longfellow.

    Art must anchor in nature, or it is the sport of every breath of folly.


    The conscious utterance of thought, by speech or action, to any end, is art.


    Beauty is at once the ultimate principle and the highest aim of art.


    It is the end of art to inoculate men with the love of nature.


    Greater completion marks the progress of art, absolute completion usually its decline.


  • For Art is Nature made by Man
  • To Man the interpreter of God.
  • Owen Meredith.

    Art is indeed not the bread but the wine of life.

    Jean Paul Richter.

  • Dead he is not, but departed—for the artist never dies.
  • Longfellow.

    An amateur may not be an artist, though an artist should be an amateur.


    The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.

    Michael Angelo.

    The highest problem of any art is to cause by appearance the illusion of a higher reality.


    In art, to express the infinite one should suggest infinitely more than is expressed.


    In the fine arts, as in many other things, we know well only what we have not learned.


    No man can thoroughly master more than one art or science.


    This is an art which does mend nature,—change it rather; but the art itself is nature.


    The learned understand the reason of the art, the unlearned feel the pleasure.


    The mission of art is to represent nature, not to imitate her.

    W. M. Hunt.

    It is only the educated who can produce or appreciate high art.

    Marguerite de Valois.

    There are certain epochs in art when simplicity is audacious originality.

    Achilles Poincelot.

    All things are artificial; for nature is the art of God.

    Sir Thos. Browne.

    In the study of the fine arts, they mutually assist each other.


    The object of art is to crystallize emotion into thought, and then to fix it in form.

    François Delsarte.

    Art is more godlike than science. Science discovers; art creates.

    John Opie.

    True art is but the anti-type of nature,—the embodiment of discovered beauty in utility.

    James A. Garfield.

    Art is a jealous thing; it requires the whole and entire man.

    Michael Angelo.

    There is a great affinity between designing and art.


    It is not the defects but the beauties which should form our criterion of judgment in all matters of art.


    The ordinary true, or purely real, cannot be the object of the arts. Illusion on a ground of truth,—that is the secret of the fine arts.


    A true artist should put a generous deceit on the spectators, and effect the noblest designs by easy methods.


    Art is based on a strong sentiment of religion,—on a profound and mighty earnestness; hence it is so prone to co-operate with religion.


    Of every noble work the silent part is best; of all expression, that which cannot be expressed.

    W. W. Story.

    Art is the child of Nature; yes, her darling child, in whom we trace the features of the mother’s face.


    Art, as far as it has ability, follows nature, as a pupil imitates his master; thus your art must be, as it were, God’s grandchild.


    Art needs solitude or misery or passion. Lukewarm zephyrs wilt it. It is a rock-flower flourishing by stormy blasts and in stony soil.

    Alex. Dumas.

    In the art of design, color is to form what verse is to prose,—a more harmonious and luminous vehicle of the thought.

    Mrs. Jameson.

    The natural progress of the works of men is from rudeness to convenience, from convenience to elegance, and from elegance to nicety.

    Dr. Johnson.

    Art is the right hand of Nature. The latter has only given us being, the former has made us men.


    Persons famous in the arts partake of the immortality of princes, and are upon a footing with them.

    Francis I.

    A work of art is said to be perfect in proportion as it does not remind the spectator of the process by which it was created.


    It is only with the best judges that the highest works of art would lose none of their honor by being seen in their rudiments.

    J. F. Boyes.

    We speak of profane arts; but there are none properly such; every art is holy in itself; it is the son of Eternal Light.


    That which exists in nature is a something purely individual and particular. Art, on the contrary, is essentially destined to manifest the general.


    Many young painters would never have taken their pencils in hand if they could have felt, known, and understood, early enough, what really a master like Raphael.


    Ah! would that we could at once paint with the eyes! In the long way, from the eye, through the arm to the pencil, how much is lost!


    From Egypt arts their progress made to Greece, wrapped in the fable of the golden fleece.

    Sir J. Denham.

    In old times men used their powers of painting to show the objects of faith; in later times they used the objects of faith that they might show their powers of painting.


    The enemy of art is the enemy of nature; art is nothing but the highest sagacity and exertions of human nature; and what nature will he honor who honors not the human?


  • Immortal art! where’er the rounded sky
  • Bends o’er the cradle where thy children lie,
  • Their home is earth, their herald every tongue.
  • Holmes.

    Artists may produce excellent designs, but they will avail little, unless the taste of the public is sufficiently cultivated to appreciate them.

    George C. Mason.

    The mother of useful arts is necessity; that of the fine arts is luxury. For father the former has intellect; the latter genius, which itself is a kind of luxury.


    All the arts, which have a tendency to raise man in the scale of being, have a certain common band of union, and are connected, if I may be allowed to say so, by blood-relationship with one another.


    The highest art is always the most religious; and the greatest artist is always a devout man. A scoffing Raphael or Michael Angelo is not conceivable.


  • Around the mighty master came
  • The marvels which his pencil wrought,
  • Those miracles of power whose fame
  • Is wide as human thought.
  • Whittier.

    Artists will sometimes speak of Rome with disparagement or indifference while it is before them; but no artist ever lived in Rome and then left it, without sighing to return.


    Rules may teach us not to raise the arms above the head; but if passion carries them, it will be well done; passion knows more than art.


    The painter is, as to the execution of his work, a mechanic; but as to his conception, his spirit, and design, he is hardly below even the poet in liberal art.


    In art the Greeks were the children of the Egyptians. The day may yet come when we shall do justice to the high powers of that mysterious and imaginative people.


    One of the first principles of decorative art is that in all manufactures ornament must hold a place subordinate to that of utility; and when, by its exuberance, ornament interferes with utility, it is misplaced and vulgar.

    G. C. Mason.

    In art there is a point of perfection, as of goodness or maturity in nature; he who is able to perceive it, and who loves it, has perfect taste; he who does not feel it, or loves on this side or that, has an imperfect taste.

    La Bruyère.

    The object of science is knowledge; the objects of art are works. In art, truth is the means to an end; in science, it is the only end. Hence the practical arts are not to be classed among the sciences. Whewell.

    The temple of art is built of words. Painting and sculpture and music are but the blazon of its windows, borrowing all their significance from the light, and suggestive only of the temple’s use.

    J. G. Holland.

    The artist is the child in the popular fable, every one of whose tears was a pearl. Ah! the world, that cruel step-mother, beats the poor child the harder to make him shed more pearls.

    Heinrich Heine.

    Art itself, in all its methods, is the child of religion. The highest and best works in architecture, sculpture and painting, poetry and music, have been born out of the religion of Nature.

    James Freeman Clarke.

    The misfortune in the state is, that nobody can enjoy life in peace, but that everybody must govern; and in art, that nobody will enjoy what has been produced, but that every one wants to reproduce on his own account.


    Art is a severe business; most serious when employed in grand and sacred objects. The artist stands higher than art, higher than the object. He uses art for his purposes, and deals with the object after his own fashion.


    Winckelmann wished to live with a work of art as a friend. The saying is true of pen and pencil. Fresh lustre shoots from Lycidas in a twentieth perusal. The portraits of Clarendon are mellowed by every year of reflection.


    When the painter wishes to represent an event, he cannot place before us too great a number of personages; but he cannot employ too few when he wishes to portray an emotion.


    In sculpture did ever anybody call the Apollo a fancy piece? Or say of the Laocoön how it might be made different? A masterpiece of art has in the mind a fixed place in the chain of being, as much as a plant or a crystal.


    All men are in some degree impressed by the face of the world; some men even to delight. This love of beauty is taste. Others have the same love in such excess that, not content with admiring, they seek to embody it in new forms. The creation of beauty is art.


    Moral beauty is the basis of all true beauty. This foundation is somewhat covered and veiled in nature. Art brings it out, and gives it more transparent forms. It is here that art, when it knows well its power and resources, engages in a struggle with nature in which it may have the advantage.

    Victor Cousin.

    The study of art is a taste at once engrossing and unselfish, which may be indulged without effort, and yet has the power of exciting the deepest emotions,—a taste able to exercise and to gratify both the nobler and softer parts of our nature.


    The one thing that marks the true artist is a clear perception and a firm, bold hand, in distinction from that imperfect mental vision and uncertain touch which give us the feeble pictures and the lumpy statues of the mere artisans on canvas or in stone.

    O. W. Holmes.

    Art employs method for the symmetrical formation of beauty, as science employs it for the logical exposition of truth; but the mechanical process is, in the last, ever kept visibly distinct, while in the first it escapes from sight amid the shows of color and the curves of grace.


    Art does not imitate nature, but it founds itself on the study of nature,—takes from nature the selections which best accord with its own intention, and then bestows on them that which nature does not possess, viz., the mind and the soul of man.


    The only kind of sublimity which a painter or sculptor should aim at is to express by certain proportions and positions of limbs and features that strength and dignity of mind, and vigor and activity of body, which enables men to conceive and execute great actions.


    The power of painter or poet to describe rightly what he calls an ideal thing depends upon its being to him not an ideal, but a real thing. No man ever did or ever will work well but either from actual sight or sight of faith.


    Art is the effort of man to express the ideas which nature suggests to him of a power above nature, whether that power be within the recesses of his own being, or in the Great First Cause of which nature, like himself, is but the effect.


    There are two kinds of artists in this world; those that work because the spirit is in them, and they cannot be silent if they would, and those that speak from a conscientious desire to make apparent to others the beauty that has awakened their own admiration.

    Anna Katharine Green.

    Whatever may be the means, or whatever the more immediate end of any kind of art, all of it that is good agrees in this, that it is the expression of one soul talking to another, and is precious according to the greatness of the soul that utters it.


    It is a great mortification to the vanity of man that his utmost art and industry can never equal the meanest of Nature’s productions, either for beauty or value. Art is only the underworkman, and is employed to give a few strokes of embellishment to those pieces which come from the hand of the master.


    The summit charms us, the steps to it do not; with the heights before our eyes, we like to linger in the plain. It is only a part of art that can be taught; but the artist needs the whole. He who is only half instructed speaks much and is always wrong; who knows it wholly is content with acting and speaks seldom or late.


    I once asked a distinguished artist what place he gave to labor in art. “Labor,” he in effect said, “is the beginning, the middle, and the end of art.” Turning then to another—“And you,” I inquired, “what do you consider as the great force in art?” “Love,” he replied. In their two answers I found but one truth.


    Art is a jealous mistress, and, if a man have a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture, or philosophy, he makes a bad husband, and an ill provider, and should be wise in season, and not fetter himself with duties which will imbitter his days, and spoil him for his proper work.


    Remember always, in painting as in eloquence, the greater your strength, the quieter will be your manner, and the fewer your words; and in painting, as in all the arts and acts of life, the secret of high success will be found, not in a fretful and various excellence, but in a quiet singleness of justly chosen aim.


    The flitting sunbeam has been grasped and made to do man’s bidding in place of the painter’s pencil. And although Franklin tamed the lightning, yet not until yesterday has its instantaneous flash been made the vehicle of language; thus in the transmission of thought annihilating space and time.

    Professor Robinson.

    Art neither belongs to religion, nor to ethics; but, like these, it brings us nearer to the Infinite, one of the forms of which it manifests to us. God is the source of all beauty, as of all truth, of all religion, of all morality. The most exalted object, therefore, of art is to reveal in its own manner the sentiment of the Infinite.

    Victor Cousin.

    Those critics who, in modern times, have the most thoughtfully analyzed the laws of æsthetic beauty concur in maintaining that the real truthfulness of all works of imagination—sculpture, painting, written fiction—is so purely in the imagination, that the artist never seeks to represent the positive truth, but the idealized image of a truth.


    Excellence in art is to be attained only by active effort, and not by passive impressions; by the manly overcoming of difficulties, by patient struggle against adverse circumstance, by the thrifty use of moderate opportunities. The great artists were not rocked and dandled into eminence, but they attained to it by that course of labor and discipline which no man need go to Rome or Paris or London to enter upon.


    What a conception of art must those theorists have who exclude portraits from the proper province of the fine arts! It is exactly as if we denied that to be poetry in which the poet celebrates the woman he really loved. Portraiture is the basis and the touchstone of historic painting.


    Art is the microscope of the mind, which sharpens the wit as the other does the sight; and converts every object into a little universe in itself. Art may be said to draw aside the veil from nature. To those who are perfectly unskilled in the practice, unimbued with the principles of art, most objects present only a confused mass.


    Art, not less eloquently than literature, teaches her children to venerate the single eye. Remember Matsys. His representations of miser-life are breathing. A forfeited bond twinkles in the hard smile. But follow him to an altar-piece. His Apostle has caught a stray tint from his usurer. Features of exquisite beauty are seen and loved; but the old nature of avarice frets under the glow of devotion. Pathos staggers on the edge of farce.


    The perfection of an art consists in the employment of a comprehensive system of laws, commensurate to every purpose within its scope, but concealed from the eye of the spectator; and in the production of effects that seem to flow forth spontaneously, as though uncontrolled by their influence, and which are equally excellent, whether regarded individually, or in reference to the proposed result.

    John Mason Good.

    Every common dauber writes rascal and villain under his pictures, because the pictures themselves have neither character nor resemblance. But the works of a master require no index. His features and coloring are taken from nature. The impression they make is immediate and uniform; nor is it possible to mistake his characters.


    It is not so much in buying pictures as in being pictures, that you can encourage a noble school. The best patronage of art is not that which seeks for the pleasures of sentiment in a vague ideality, nor for beauty of form in a marble image, but that which educates your children into living heroes, and binds down the flights and the fondnesses of the heart into practical duty and faithful devotion.


    Now nature is not at variance with art, nor art with nature; they being both the servants of his providence. Art is the perfection of nature. Were the world now as it was the sixth day, there were yet a chaos. Nature hath made one world, and art another. In brief, all things are artificial; for nature is the art of God.

    Sir Thomas Browne.

    There is no more potent antidote to low sensuality than the adoration of the beautiful. All the higher arts of design are essentially chaste without respect to the object. They purify the thoughts as tragedy purifies the passions. Their accidental effects are not worth consideration,—there are souls to whom even a vestal is not holy.


    The study of art possesses this great and peculiar charm, that it is absolutely unconnected with the struggles and contests of ordinary life. By private interests, by political questions, men are deeply divided, and set at variance; but beyond and above all such party strifes, they are attracted and united by a taste for the beautiful in art.


    Since I have known God in a saving manner, painting, poetry, and music have had charms unknown to me before. I have received what I suppose is a taste for them, or religion has reigned my mind and made it susceptible of impressions from the sublime and beautiful. O, how religion secures the heightened enjoyment of those pleasures which keep so many from God, by their becoming a source of pride!

    Henry Martyn.

    The refining influence is the study of art, which is the science of beauty; and I find that every man values every scrap of knowledge in art, every observation of his own in it, every hint he has caught from another. For the laws of beauty are the beauty of beauty, and give the mind the same of a higher joy than the sight of it gives the senses. The study of art is of high value to the growth of the intellect.


    The names of great painters are like passing-bells: in the name of Velasquez you hear sounded the fall of Spain; in the name of Titian, that of Venice; in the name of Leonardo, that of Milan; in the name of Raphael, that of Rome. And there is profound justice in this, for in proportion to the nobleness of the power is the guilt of its use for purposes vain or vile; and hitherto the greater the art, the more surely has it been used, and used solely, for the decoration of pride or the provoking of sensuality.