Seven Discourses On Art
By Joshua Reynolds

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To the King

The regular progress of cultivated life is from necessaries to accommodations, from accommodations to ornaments. By your illustrious predecessors were established marts for manufactures, and colleges for science; but for the arts of elegance, those arts by which manufactures are embellished and science is refined, to found an academy was reserved for your Majesty.

Had such patronage been without effect, there had been reason to believe that nature had, by some insurmountable impediment, obstructed our proficiency; but the annual improvement of the exhibitions which your Majesty has been pleased to encourage shows that only encouragement had been wanting.

To give advice to those who are contending for royal liberality has been for some years the duty of my station in the Academy; and these Discourses hope for your Majesty’s acceptance as well- intended endeavours to incite that emulation which your notice has kindled, and direct those studies which your bounty has rewarded.

May it please your Majesty,
Your Majesty’s
Most dutiful servant,
And most faithful subject,
Joshua Reynolds.

To the Members of the Royal Academy.

Gentlemen,–That you have ordered the publication of this Discourse is not only very flattering to me, as it implies your approbation of the method of study which I have recommended; but likewise, as this method receives from that act such an additional weight and authority as demands from the students that deference and respect, which can be due only to the united sense of so considerable a body of artists.

I am,
With the greatest esteem and respect,
Your most humble
And obedient servant,
Joshua Reynolds


Introduction  •  To the King  •  A Discourse I  •  A Discourse II  •  A Discourse III  •  A Discourse IV  •  A Discourse V  •  A Discourse VI  •  A Discourse VII

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