There is a different 'aesthetic,' you must remember, for each epoch in the history of art. It is misleading, therefore, to place one school above another or to suppose that we ought to imitate the great masters who have gone before us. There are great masters at every epoch. The aesthetic of the pre-Raphaelites was suitable to and a product of its period. It would be out of place to-day. It is out of date. As much as I admire the great masters of former times, I have neither imitated them nor been influenced by them. I might express the opinion, however, that among them Velasquez... was the most complete; Rubens had the greatest imagination, and Rembrandt the greatest soul. THE PAINTER MUST GO STRAIGHT TO NATURE; THE STUDY OF NATURE ALONE WILL TEACH HIM HIS BUSINESS. My own art may be summed up in two words; I seek to give the impression of things which touch and surround me. WE MUST KNOW NATURE FIRST, BEFORE WE CAN HOPE TO IMPROVE UPON HER.
- Carolus Duran
From an interview conducted by Rowland Strong, and printed in The New York Times, March 17, 1900. (Emphasis added.)