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William Martin Conway, the 1st Baron Conway of Allington (1856-1937), was an English art critic, politician and mountaineer. From 1884 to 1887 Conway was Professor of Art at University College, Liverpool; and from 1901 to 1904 he was Slade Professor of Fine Arts at Cambridge University.

Quotations from Conway and Conway's The Book of Art for Young People follow. Book references are at the bottom of the page.


A man will be noticing other things [that an woman]. His picture, if he painted one, would make those other things prominent. (Chap. 1)

A painter . . . can't paint every detail of things as they are in nature [and] . . . We don't all see the same things in the same way. (Chap. 1)

A photograph is almost always wrong . . . (Chap. 1)

Almost the pleasantest thing in the world is to be told a splendid story by a really nice person. (Chap. 1)

Back in the Middle Ages . . . folks had far less educated eyes . . . So they were satisfied . . . (Chap. 1)

I have a friend who can make the loveliest folks and the funniest beasts and the quaintest houses and trees, and he really can't draw a bit . . . if he could draw better I should not like his folks and beasts half as much as I do. (Chap. 1)

If we are really to understand old pictures, we must begin by understanding the fancies of the artists who painted them. (Chap. 1)

Indeed I think the untrue stories are the best. (Chap. 1)

My story-teller should not only draw the pictures while he talked, but he should paint them too. (Chap. 1)

None of us sees more than certain features in what the eye rests upon, and . . . those features . . . we should paint. . . . We must make a choice, and of course we choose the features and details that please us. (Chap. 1)

Sensitivity to beauty comes to some. It can be cultivated. T. K.

There is a delightful old picture painted on a wall away off at Assisi, in Italy, which shows St. Francis preaching to a lot of birds, and the birds are all listening to him and looking pleased – the way birds do look pleased when they find a good fat worm or fresh crumbs. (Chap. 1)

You must never . . . pretend to like what you don't like – that is too silly. We can't all like the same things. (Chap. 1)


Art quotations for young folks, Martin Conway, Literature  

Conway, Agnes Ethel and Sir Martin Conway. The Book of Art for Young People. London: A. and C. Black, 1909. Urbana, IL: The Gutenberg Project, 2005.

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