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Sir Joshua Reynolds Quotes





A man who thinks he is guarding himself against prejudices by resisting the authority of others, leaves open every avenue to singularity, vanity, self-conceit, obstinacy, and many other vices, all tending to warp the judgment, and prevent the natural- operation of his faculties. We are not satisfied with our own opinions, whatever we may pretend, till they are ratified and confirmed by suffrage of the rest of mankind. We dispute and wrangle forever; we endeavor to get men to come to us when we do not go to them.
[Prejudice]
 

A room hung with pictures, is a room hung with thoughts.
 

All the gestures of children are graceful ; the reign of distortion and unnatural attitudes commences with the introduction of the dancing master.
[Children]
 

Excellence is never granted to man but as the reward of labor. It argues no small strength of mind to persevere in habits of industry without the pleasure of perceiving those advances, which, like the hand of a clock, whilst they make hourly approaches to their point, yet proceed so slowly as to escape observation.
[Excellence]
 

Genius is supposed to be a power of producing excellencies which are out of the reach of the rules of art; a power which no precepts can teach, and which no industry can acquire.
[Genius]
 

It is but a poor eloquence which only shows that the orator can talk.
[Eloquence]
 

Nothing can be made of nothing; he who has laid up no materials can produce no combinations.
[Invention]
 

Nothing is denied to well-directed labor, and nothing is ever to be attained without it.
[Labor]
 

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.
[Reform]
 

Simplicity is an exact medium between too little and too much.
[Simplicity]
 

Style in painting is the same as in writing, - a power over materials, whether words or colors, by which conceptions or sentiments are conveyed.
 

Taste depends upon those finer emotions which make the organization of the soul.
[Taste]
 

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

The general principles of urbanity, politeness, or civility, have been the same in all nations; but the mode in which they are dressed is continually varying. The general idea of showing respect is by making yourself less; but the manner, whether by bowing the body, kneeling, prostration, pulling off the upper part of our dress, or taking away the lower, is a matter of custom.
 

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.
[Mind]
 

We never are satisfied with our opimions, whatever we may pretend, till they are ratified and confirmed by the suffrages of the rest of mankind. We dispute and wrangle forever; we endeavor to get men to come to us, when we do not go to them.
[Opinion]
 

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