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Joshua Reyonds

Gentlemen,—When I have taken the liberty of addressing you on the course and order of your studies, I never proposed to enter into a minute detail of the art.  This I have always left to the several professors, who pursue the end of our institution with the highest honour to themselves, and with the greatest advantage to the students.

Gentlemen,—It has been my uniform endeavour, since I first addressed you from this place, to impress you strongly with one ruling idea.  I wished you to be persuaded, that success in your art depends almost entirely on your own industry; but the industry which I principally recommended, is not the industry of the hands, but of themind.

It is a happy memory that associates the foundation of our Royal Academy with the delivery of these inaugural discourses by Sir Joshua Reynolds, on the opening of the schools, and at the first annual meetings for the distribution of its prizes.  They laid down principles of art from the point of view of a man of genius who had made his power felt, and with the clear good sense which is the foundation of all work that looks upward and may hope to live.  The truths here expressed concerning Art may, with slight adjustment of the way

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.

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.

Gentlemen,—An academy in which the polite arts may be regularly cultivated is at last opened among us by royal munificence.  This must appear an event in the highest degree interesting, not only to the artists, but to the whole nation.

Gentlemen,—I congratulate you on the honour which you have just received.  I have the highest opinion of your merits, and could wish to show my sense of them in something which possibly may be more useful to you than barren praise.  I could wish to lead you into such a course of study as may render your future progress answerable to your past improvement; and, whilst I applaud you for what has been done, remind you of how much yet remains to attain perfection.

Gentlemen,—It is not easy to speak with propriety to so many students of different ages and different degrees of advancement.  The mind requires nourishment adapted to its growth; and what may have promoted our earlier efforts, might, retard us in our nearer approaches to perfection.

Gentlemen,—The value and rank of every art is in proportion to the mental labour employed in it, or the mental pleasure produced by it.  As this principle is observed or neglected, our profession becomes either a liberal art or a mechanical trade.  In the hands of one man it makes the highest pretensions, as it is addressed to the noblest faculties, In those of another it is reduced to a mere matter of ornament, and the painter has but the humble province of furnishing our apartments with elegance.

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