Andrea del Sarto
Robert Browning (1855)
What do you do if you’re an artist, aspiring to greatness, but there’s something in you that keeps you from the heights? “That’s not a rare thing in the world,” you might say, “because you might have all the will you need, but you’re just not blessed with the talent.” That’s true enough. If I lived a hundred years, I could never play the piano like Paderewski, or even Liberace. I don’t have the agility in my fingers. I don’t have the agility in whatever part of the brain would work my fingers. I guess I might have been Prime Minister of Poland, as Paderewski was, except that I’m Italian, like Liberace. Ah well.
But what if you do have the talent? What if, in fact, you can do things with your art, with your eyes and your hands and even your brains, that the greatest masters could only achieve with a lot of sweat, and not consistently at that? Would you then be, say, the greatest painter who ever lived? No, not at all. …
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