NPG 349 (1a)

 

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Letter from Benjamin West to Thomas Phillips, dated 28 July 1802, stating his artistic credo, his opinion of the National Gallery and of Phillips's talents.
  Letter

London July 28th 1802

Dear Sir

Your letter to me from Paris dated July 10th I received and have to return you thanks for the information it contains. Your sensations on seeing the works of art in the National Gallery, is what must arise from the feelings of every man that has a mind awake to great excellence in painting - and how some people that I have met with, have been able to view those works with indifference, and call themselves artists is a matter of astonishment to me - but the longer I live, the more I discover how little feelings men have for excellence in art; and that it arises from the want of knowing what those excellences consist in - and that, (illegible) - and (illegible) - so much understood by the Italians, is no where to be found even in artists of that country, except a very few, among us. What are the refinements in art, as viewed by the Artists in France, I am not able to jude from any thing which I have seen finished by the living men - but this I know