...For my own part, I confess, I am not only very much disposed to maintain the absolute necessity of imitation in the first stages of art; but am of opinion, that the study of other masters, which I here call imitation, may be extended throughout our whole lives, without any danger of the inconvenience with which it is charged, of enfeebling the mind, or preventing us from giving that original air which every work undoubtedly ought always to have.
...From the remains of the works of the ancients the modern arts were revived, and it is by their means that they must be restored a second time. However it may mortify our vanity, we must be forced to allow them our masters; and we may venture to prophesy, that when they shall cease to be studied, arts will no longer flourish, and we shall again relapse into barbarism.
...Thus I have ventured to give my opinion of what appears to me the true and only method by which an artist makes himself master of his profession; which I hold ought to be one continued course of imitation, that is not to cease but with his life.'
The Discourses of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Discourse VI.