"The houses are from five to seven feet high, and all built upon one arbitrary plan--the ungraceful form of a dry-goods box. The sides are daubed with a smooth white plaster, and tastefully frescoed aloft and alow with disks of camel-dung placed there to dry. This gives the edifice the romantic appearance of having been riddled with cannon-balls, and imparts to it a very pleasing effect. When the artist has arranged his materials with an eye to just proportion--the small and the large flakes in alternate rows, and separated by carefully-considered intervals--I know of nothing more cheerful to look upon than a spirited Syrian fresco. Nothing in this world has such a charm for me as to stand and gaze for hours and hours upon the inspired works of these old masters."
"We don't know any more about pictures than a kangaroo does about metaphysics.... To us, the great uncultivated, it is the last thing in the world to call a picture. Brown said it looked like an old fire- board."
"I can't work without a model. I won't say I turn my back on nature ruthlessly in order to turn a study into a picture, arranging the colors, enlarging and simplifying; but in the matter of form I am too afraid of departing from the possible and the true."
"The poet, the dramatist, the novelist are free to exercise their imagination as widely as they choose. But the historian may not be allowed so long a tether. He must fulfill his function as creative artist only within very rigid limits. He cannot invent what went on in the mind of St. Thomas of Canterbury. The poet can. He cannot suppress inconvenient minor characters and invent others who more significantly underline the significance of his theme. The novelist can. The dramatist can. The historian, as Sir Phillip Sydney has said, "is captive to the truth of a foolish world." Not only is he captive to the truth of a foolish world, but he is captive to a truth he can never fully discover, and yet he is forbidden by his conscience and his training from inventing it."
"Modern pictures are, no doubt, delightful to look at. At least, some of them are. But they are quite impossible to live with; theyare too clever, too assertive, too intellectual. Their meaning is too obvious, and their method too clearly defined. One exhausts what they have to say in a very short time, and then they become as tedious as one's relations."
"The notion that the public accepts or rejects anything in modern art ... is merely romantic fiction.... The game is completed andthe trophies distributed long before the public knows what has happened."
"There is in fact no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands above classes, art that is detached from or independent of politics. Proletarian literature and art are part of the whole proletarian revolutionary cause."
"Art knows no happier moment than the opportunity to show the symmetry of an extreme, during that moment of spheric harmony when the dissonance dissolves for the blink of an eye, dissolves into a blissful harmony, when the most extreme opposites, coming together from the greatest alienation, fleetingly touch with lips of the word and of love."