Pearls from artists* # 416
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
The young man was experiencing that profound emotion which has stirred the hearts of all great artists when, in the prime of youth and their love of art, they approach a man of genius or stand in the presence of a masterpiece. There is a first bloom in all human feelings, the result of a noble enthusiasm which gradually fades till happiness is no more than a memory, glory a lie. Among such fragile sentiments, none so resembles love as the youthful passion of an artist first suffering that initial delicious torture which will be his destiny of glory and woe, a passion brimming with boldness and fear, vague hopes and inevitable frustrations. The youth who, short of cash but long of talent, fails to tremble upon first encountering a master, must always lack at least one heartstring, some sensitivity in his brushstroke, a certain poetic expressiveness. There may be concerned boasters prematurely convinced that the future is theirs, but only fools believe them. In this regard, the young stranger seemed to possess true merit, if talent is to be measured by that initial shyness and that indefinable humility which a man destined for glory is likely to lose in the exercise of his art, as a pretty woman loses hers in the stratagems of coquetry. The habit of triumph diminishes doubt, and humility may be a kind of doubt.
Honore Balzac in The Unknown Masterpiece
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