What Matters It?

George P. A. Healy, Reminiscences of a Portrait Painter (Chicago: A.C. McClurg and Co., 1894), pp. 72-73:

As I look back upon my long life, as I think of the early years in Paris at the time when Gros killed himself, when Delacroix, that audacious young innovator, excited the anger and contempt of Ingres, when the landscapes of Corot were refused at the Salon, when my old and dear friend Couture was considered a revolutionary spirit not to be encouraged by the authorities, I can but smile — a little sadly, perhaps — at the violence of the young men of our day, who in their turn will be looked upon as old fogies by the youths of thirty or forty years hence. And so the world goes on! Fashion changes; the beautiful of yesterday is the grotesque of to-day. What matters it? Each generation as it comes to life does its best, struggles, suffers, hopes, or despairs; it adds its little stone to the big edifice which is ever being built; the little stone is lost among others, forgotten, overlooked; but it has helped nevertheless to make the wall solid and beautiful. And that surely is something.

I enjoyed this book — full of interesting anecdotes, nothing contrived or mean. I am adding Healy to my list of candidates for the “If you were to share a meal with a famous person…” parlour game.

George P. A. Healy, Portrait of the Artist (1851)