NPG 349 (1b)

 

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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

of some of you young gentlemen of talents do not labor to attain excellence in the true meaning of the expression, in this country - the zenith of the arts are past now and they will sink into no other merits that the Executive - and what shall flash for the moment, and impose on the eye. Contemplate the works by Raphael, Carraci, Titian and many of the other Italian masters, as for instance Domeniceno - in the works of these observe how they laboured to attract the mental powers in the spectators, and how they have brought home the characters represented in their works. The opportunity you now have, is the period to make your mind up with all that is refined in drawing, colouring, character and expression, and all the other points which constitutes a fine picture. Lay the foundation of all those excellences in your mind while surrounded as you are with the effort of Genius, and on that build your structure when you return to your native land.

Mr Delamotte will hand you this, and I hope to follow him in less than a fortnight from this time: it will be gratifying to me to see you at Paris.

I am with friendship, and great regard
Dear Sir, your most obedient, and obliged
Benjn. West

Thos. Phillips
excuse incorrectness -