“When you draw, form is the important thing; but in painting, the first thing is to look for the general impression of color…. Always paint a direct sketch from nature every day.”
The prize for the first correct answer is a free deluxe Dinotopia map. Please commit to your guess in the comments before checking Google.
Addendum 8:15 AM
Ricardo is right. The quote comes from Jean-Léon Gérôme, who was among the most famous of the academic painters.
Authors of introductory art history books persist in ignoring academics like Gérôme, Bouguereau, and Meissonier, or presenting them as conservative windbags who were stuck in the studio, blind to the revelations of the Impressionists. The 2004 edition of The History of Art by Horst Woldemar Janson and Anthony F. Janson states: “By the mid-1880s Impressionism had become widely accepted. Its technique was imitated by conservative painters.”
Another old standby text, Gardner’s Art through the Ages, in the space of half a page of its 2005 edition, uses the words “confining” “conservative” “constrictive” “constraining” and “limited” to describe Academic painting.
This view of art history is incorrect and misleading. Scholars like Albert Boime started to correct the Janson/Gardner account as early as the 1970s, but the myths and misrepresentations still remain, and Gérôme is routinely ignored, even though he was the devoted teacher of American artists like Mary Cassatt, Thomas Eakins, William Paxton, Abbott Thayer, and J. Alden Weir.
The true story is that the technique, theory, terminology, and daily practice of plein air impressionism arose from within the academy’s normal practice. The argument in France had more to do with the aesthetics of the sketch, the correctness of drawing, and what was considered acceptable for exhibition.
The introductory text I recommend is Art: A New History, by Paul Johnson, which is well researched, and balances the story fairly and intelligently. Johnson’s text also gives more attention to women artists and to the regional schools in, for example, Russia, Australia, and Scandinavia.
The mystery quote from this post comes from the excellent new catalog of Australian Impressionism by Humphrey McQueen and Terence Lane, National Gallery of Victoria, 2007. The opening quote was noted down by Tom Roberts, an Australian painter who studied in Paris in 1883.
More on Gerome at ARC: link.