"Often, while contemplating works of art, not in their easily perceptible materiality, in the too-clear hieroglyphs of their contours or the obvious meaning of their subject, but in the soul with which they are endowed, in the atmospheric impression that they convey, in the spiritual light or darkness which they pour into our souls, I have felt entering into me a kind of vision of the childhood of their creators. Some little sorrow, some small pleasure of the child, inordinately inflated by an exquisite sensibility, become later on in the adult man, even without his knowing it, the basis of a work of art.... Genius is nothing but childhood clearly formulated, newly endowed with virile and powerful means of self-expression."
"Drawing is a struggle between nature and the artist, in which the better the artist understands the intentions of nature, the moreeasily he will triumph over it. For him it is not a question of copying, but of interpreting in a simpler and more luminous language."
"It is at the same time by poetry and through poetry, by and through music, that the soul glimpses the splendors found behind the tomb; and when an exquisite poem brings tears to one's eyes, these tears are not the sign of excessive pleasure, they are rather witness to an irritated melancholy, to a condition of nerves, to a nature exiled to imperfection and which would like to seize immediately, on this very earth, a revealed paradise."
"Although Samuel had a depraved imagination--perhaps even because of this--love, for him, was less a matter of the senses than of the intellect. It was, above all, admiration and appetite for beauty; he considered reproduction a flaw of love, and pregnancy a form of insanity. He wrote on one occasion: "Angels are hermaphrodite and sterile."
"An artist is an artist only because of his exquisite sense of beauty, a sense which shows him intoxicating pleasures, but which atthe same time implies and contains an equally exquisite sense of all deformities and all disproportions."
"All forms of beauty, like all possible phenomena, contain an element of the eternal and an element of the transitory--of the absolute and of the particular. Absolute and eternal beauty does not exist, or rather it is only an abstraction creamed from the general surface of different beauties. The particular element in each manifestation comes from the emotions: and just as we have our own particular emotions, so we have our own beauty."
"Beauty consists of an eternal, invariable element, whose quantity is excessively difficult to determine, and of a relative, circumstantial element, which will be, if you like, by turns or all together, the era, its fashion, its morals, its passions."