'The best kind of wealth' - why you should buy art

May 30 2012

Image of 'The best kind of wealth' - why you should buy art

Picture: Philip Mould & Company

I've just come across this fine quote by Sir Joshua Reynolds, on why he not only painted great art, but collected it too:

I considered myself as playing a great game and, instead of beginning to save money, I laid it out faster than I got it, in purchasing the best examples of art that could be procured: for I even borrowed money for this purpose. The possessing portraits by Titian, Vandyke, Rembrandt, &c., I considered as the best kind of wealth.

There speaks a sensible fellow.

Reynolds was particularly keen on Titian. Once, Reynolds' pupil, James Northcote, asked him whether there would be anyone who could paint a portrait as well as Titian: 

He answered, that he believed there never would - that to procure a real fine picture by Titian, he would be content to sell everything he possessed in the world to raise the money for its purchase; adding, with emphasis, 'I would be content to ruin myself.' 

Update - a reader writes:

Characteristic of Sir Joshua's scholarship and modesty that he did not recommend the purchase of his own pictures to his pupils...

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