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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index R > Sir Joshua Reynolds Quotes

Sir Joshua Reynolds
(16 Jul 1723 - 23 Feb 1792)

English painter who was the most influential artist in the latter half of the eighteenth century. He became the first president of the Royal Academy when it was founded in 1768, and thereafter delivered annual Discourses on Art (1769-90). His 2000 paintings include portraits and landscapes.

Science Quotes by Sir Joshua Reynolds (11 quotes)

A provision of endless apparatus, a bustle of infinite enquiry and research, or even the mere mechanical labour of copying, may be employed, to evade and shuffle off real labour, — the real labour of thinking.
— Sir Joshua Reynolds
In Discourse XII, Discourses on Painting and the Fine Arts: Delivered at the Royal Academy (1826), 226
Science quotes on:  |  Apparatus (69)  |  Copy (34)  |  Employ (114)  |  Endless (57)  |  Enquiry (89)  |  Evade (4)  |  Idleness (15)  |  Infinite (236)  |  Labor (112)  |  Mechanical (142)  |  Provision (17)  |  Real (156)  |  Research (734)  |  Shuffle (6)  |  Think (1096)

An eye critically nice can only be formed by observing well-colored pictures with attention; and by close attention … discover … expedients by which good colorists have raised the value of their tints, and by which nature has been so happily imitated.
— Sir Joshua Reynolds
In The Life and Discourses of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1853), 24.
Science quotes on:  |  Attention (195)  |  Color (148)  |  Critical (71)  |  Discover (566)  |  Expedient (5)  |  Eye (432)  |  Imitate (18)  |  Nature (1973)  |  Nice (15)  |  Observe (175)  |  Picture (146)  |  Tint (3)

An eye critically nice will discern in every colour a tendency to some other colour, according as it is influenced by light, shade, depth or diluteness; nor is this the case only in the inherent colours of pigments, &c. but it is so also in the transient colours of the prism, &c. Hence blue in its depth inclines to purple; deep-yellow to orange, &c.; nor is it practicable to realize these colours to the satisfaction of the critical eye,-since perfect colours, like perfect geometrical figures, are pure ideals. My examples of colours are therefore quite as adequate to their office of illustrating and distinguishing, as the figure of an angle inclining to the acute or obtuse, instead of a perfect right angle, or middle form, would be in illustrating the conception of an angle in general.
— Sir Joshua Reynolds
In 'On Colors—In Answer to Mr. T. Hargreaves’s Strictures on the Work Entitled “Chromatics; or, An Essay on the Analogy and Harmony of Colours”', The Philosophical Magazine and Journal: Comprehending The Various Branches of Science, The Liberal and Fine Arts, Geology, Agriculture, Manufactures and Commerce (Oct 1817), 50, No. 234, 241.
Science quotes on:  |  Acute (8)  |  Angle (22)  |  Blue (61)  |  Color (148)  |  Conception (157)  |  Critical (71)  |  Depth (95)  |  Discern (35)  |  Distinguish (166)  |  Eye (432)  |  Figure (162)  |  General (516)  |  Geometrical (11)  |  Ideal (104)  |  Illustrate (11)  |  Influence (227)  |  Inherent (43)  |  Light (624)  |  Nice (15)  |  Obtuse (2)  |  Orange (15)  |  Perfect (220)  |  Pigment (9)  |  Prism (8)  |  Pure (295)  |  Purple (4)  |  Right Angle (4)  |  Satisfaction (75)  |  Shade (33)  |  Tendency (103)  |  Transient (13)  |  Yellow (31)

Excellence is never granted to man, but as the reward of labour.
— Sir Joshua Reynolds
From 'A Discourse Delivered to the Students of the Royal Academy, on the Distribution of Prizes' (11 Dec 1769), in Seven Discourses Delivered in the Royal Academy (1778), 52.
Science quotes on:  |  Excellence (40)  |  Grant (75)  |  Labour (99)  |  Man (2252)  |  Never (1088)  |  Reward (70)

Genius is supposed to be a power of producing excellences which are put of the reach of the rules of art: a power which no precepts can teach, and which no industry can acquire.
— Sir Joshua Reynolds
From 'A Discourse Delivered to the Students of the Royal Academy, on the Distribution of Prizes' (10 Dec 1774), in Seven Discourses Delivered in the Royal Academy (1778), 202-203.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquire (44)  |  Art (664)  |  Excellence (40)  |  Genius (297)  |  Industry (150)  |  Power (757)  |  Precept (10)  |  Reach (285)  |  Rule (299)  |  Teach (287)  |  Teaching (190)

I am convinced that this is the only means of advancing science, of clearing the mind from a confused heap of contradictory observations, that do but perplex and puzzle the Student, when he compares them, or misguide him if he gives himself up to their authority; but bringing them under one general head, can alone give rest and satisfaction to an inquisitive mind.
— Sir Joshua Reynolds
From 'A Discourse Delivered to the Students of the Royal Academy, on the Distribution of Prizes' (11 Dec 1770), in Seven Discourses Delivered in the Royal Academy (1778), 98.
Science quotes on:  |  Advancement (62)  |  Alone (318)  |  Authority (99)  |  Compare (73)  |  Confusion (61)  |  Contradiction (69)  |  Do (1905)  |  General (516)  |  Head (84)  |  Heap (15)  |  Himself (461)  |  Inquisitiveness (6)  |  Mean (808)  |  Means (580)  |  Mind (1359)  |  Observation (582)  |  Perplex (6)  |  Puzzle (44)  |  Rest (285)  |  Satisfaction (75)  |  Student (310)

Idleness, assuming the specious disguise of industry, will lull to sleep all suspicion of our want of an active exertion of strength.
— Sir Joshua Reynolds
In Discourse XII, Discourses on Painting and the Fine Arts: Delivered at the Royal Academy (1826), 226
Science quotes on:  |  Active (79)  |  Assume (41)  |  Disguise (12)  |  Exertion (17)  |  Idleness (15)  |  Industry (150)  |  Lull (2)  |  Sleep (77)  |  Specious (3)  |  Strength (130)  |  Suspicion (36)  |  Want (498)

If you have great talents, industry will improve them; if moderate abilities, industry will supply their deficiencies. Nothing is denied to well-directed labour; nothing is ever to be attained without it.
— Sir Joshua Reynolds
From 'A Discourse Delivered to the Students of the Royal Academy, on the Distribution of Prizes' (11 Dec 1769), in Seven Discourses Delivered in the Royal Academy (1778), 57.
Science quotes on:  |  Ability (156)  |  Attain (126)  |  Deficiency (14)  |  Deny (70)  |  Direct (225)  |  Effort (233)  |  Great (1579)  |  Industry (150)  |  Labour (99)  |  Moderate (6)  |  Nothing (987)  |  Supply (97)  |  Talent (99)  |  Will (2352)

Invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory. Nothing can be made of nothing: he who has laid up no materials can produce no combinations.
— Sir Joshua Reynolds
From a Discourse (11 Dec 1769), delivered to the students of the Royal Academy, on the distribution of Prizes, collected in The Discourses of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1842), 20.
Science quotes on:  |  Combination (146)  |  Gather (74)  |  Invention (387)  |  Material (358)  |  Memory (140)  |  Nothing (987)

It is to Titian we must turn our eyes to find excellence with regard to color, and light and shade, in the highest degree. He was both the first and the greatest master of this art. By a few strokes he knew how to mark the general image and character of whatever object he attempted.
— Sir Joshua Reynolds
In Discourse XI, Discourses on Painting and the Fine Arts: Delivered at the Royal Academy (1826), 209
Science quotes on:  |  Art (664)  |  Attempt (256)  |  Character (252)  |  Color (148)  |  Excellence (40)  |  Eye (432)  |  First (1290)  |  General (516)  |  Great (1579)  |  Image (97)  |  Light (624)  |  Mark (47)  |  Master (181)  |  Object (430)  |  Shade (33)  |  Stroke (19)  |  Titian (2)

There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.[Greatly abbreviated and paraphrased.]
— Sir Joshua Reynolds
The original 1784 version of this quote begins “A provision of endless apparatus…” (see elsewhere on this page). Over the years, the original 35-word quote has been paraphrased, re-paraphrased and abbreviated to these 18 words. In this form, it was published by B.C. Forbes in 'Why Do So Many Men Never Amount to Anything?',The American Magazine (Jan 1921). The journalist, having visited Thomas Edison’s laboratory, wrote that Edison showed him a placard inscribed with this quote, including the name of Joshua Reynolds, with the intention of having copies placed “all over the plant.” The quote was subsequently repeated by other writers, (describing Edison’s use of the sign), some of whom omitted the name of Joshua Reynolds incorrectly implying attribution to Edison.
Science quotes on:  |  Avoid (118)  |  Expedient (5)  |  Labor (112)  |  Man (2252)  |  Resort (8)  |  Thinking (425)  |  Will (2352)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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