One of art’s primary goals is to show beauty. But what is beauty, really, and why is it powerful? We’ve compiled 5 of our favorite quotes about beauty written by authors and poets who lived around the 19th century. Enjoy! 

1. “Beauty is in the heart of the beholder.”

– H.G. Wells (author, 1866-1946)

So often what is beautiful to one person will not be beautiful to another. Beauty seems to say something about who we are as people then, instead of pointing to something present in the art itself. 

2. “What delights us in visible beauty is the invisible.”

– Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (author, 1830-1916)

If you’ve ever tried to explain to someone why you love a piece of art, you know what she’s talking about. In fact, it’s the experiential learning component of art that takes place inside us that makes it so powerful. 

3. “Beneath the Veil lay right and wrong, vengeance and love, and sometimes throwing aside the veil, a soul of sweet Beauty and Truth stood revealed.”

– W.E.B. Du Bois (poet, among many other things 1868-1963) 

People can disguise reality and present themselves or events in ways that make it hard to tell what’s right and wrong, what’s hateful and what’s loving. But what if we could use our art to lift this veil of confusion and show people beauty and truth? [this formatting will be the same as the others, not sure why it’s weird here]

4. “Beauty is not caused. It is.”

– Emily Dickinson (poet, 1830-1886)

I love this. It’s freeing, in a way, because instead of trying to create beauty out of nothing, we as artists can recognize that we are simply pointing out what is already there. We’re just making it visible, audible, or tactile to others. 

5. “Beauty is truth – truth, beauty – that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

– John Keats (poet, 1795-1821)

We really couldn’t make this list if we didn’t include this one! Keats has a really interesting idea here…but is he right? Is a horrific movie like Saving Private Ryan still beautiful if it shows us truth? Is there something inherently true about a beautiful piece of music by J.S. Bach? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo credits: Jade Stephens on Unsplash; Nagy Arnold on Unsplash; Mika on Unsplash; Nirmal Rajendharkumar on Unsplash; Gigi on Unsplash; Marius Masalar on Unsplash

4 thoughts on “Top 5 Quotes About Beauty – 19th Century Edition

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