You might say that shadows love masterpieces. They are fixed around them, like a kind of jewelry.
The sight of the human form feeds me and comforts me. I have infinite admiration for the nude — it is a cult.
Art shows people their raison d’etre. It reveals the meaning of life to them, and it enlightens them on their destiny and so guides them through existence.
It is painful to note that we find similar faults in the two opposing schools of thought: the bourgeois and the socialist. ‘Let us moralize! Let us moralize!’ they both cry with the passion of missionaries. Of course, one preaches bourgeois morality and the other socialist morality. From now on art is nothing but a matter of propaganda. Does art have any use? Yes. Why? Because it is art. Is there such a thing as pernicious art? Yes. It is art that disturbs people’s living conditions.
Life expressed poetically and real life, that is to say Art and Morality, are two completely different worlds, and it is appalling sophistry to judge the one in the light of the other. The benchmark for real life is goodness in the view of some, usefulness (or truth) for others, whereas the benchmark for art is beauty. […] In practice they [the beautiful and the good] are distinct and cannot be brought together without descending into absurdity. The moment Morality takes it upon itself to dictate terms to Art, I see no reason why Geometry, for example, should not also poke its nose in at an obtuse angle.
You speak too flatteringly of some slight works of mine. I do not know whether, at another time, they might not be worth publishing; but I am quite sure that obscurity best benefits them in this age of other successes and of a very different sort of fame. It is enough for me if they serve sometimes to interest my friends, usefully employ my leisure hours, and prepare me to educate my children, which is the great and agreeable task of my domestic life.
Camille Jordan to Mme. Recamier, February 15, 1812.
Traveling may be an agreeable fancy when we are looking forward to a speedy return to a beloved country, to tender hopes, and the ties that a short absence only draw the closer; but be sure that to travel only to kill time is the worst thing one can do. The movement of the body increases the uneasiness of the mind; we imagine that we are worse off, because we persuade ourselves that we shall be better with a change of place, and the spot where we are is ever that which displeases us the most.
Countess de Boigne to Mme. Recamier, March 28, 1812.
I should like a letter from you telling me of the employment of your time, of your daily habits, of your acquaintances, and your evening amusements; something, in short, which will help me to find you whenever my thoughts turn in search of you.
Adrien de Montmorency, to Mme. Recamier, November 10, 1811.