The present generation appears to be composed of a new, and, at least with respect to the arts, a superior order of beings. Generally speaking, their thoughts, their feelings, and language on these subjects, differ entirely from what they were sixty years ago. No just opinions were at that time entertained on the merits of ingenious productions of this kind. The state of the public mind incapable of discriminating excellence from inferiority, proved incontrovertibly, that a right sense of art in the spectator, can only be acquired by long and frequent observation, and that without proper opportunities to improve the mind and the eye, a nation would continue insensible of the true value of the fine arts.
– Joseph Farrington, from “Memoirs of Reynolds,” circa 1813