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The Idler 79

Amongst the painters and the writers on painting there is one maxim universally admitted and continually inculcated. ‘Imitate nature’ is the invariable rule, but I know none who have explained in what manner this rule is to be understood; the consequence of which is that everyone takes it in the most obvious sense — that objects are represented naturally when they have such relief that they seem real. … It must be considered that if the excellency of a painter consisted only in this kind of imitation, painting must lose its rank and be no longer considered as a liberal art and sister to poetry, this imitation being merely mechanical, in which the slowest intellect is always sure to succeed best.

· Sir Joshua Reynolds, The Idler 79