Humility

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Humility

From Iian Neill

Published before 2005


Brian,

I agree with your assessment but would add that a great man's humility need not be a sign that he has underestimated his talents or that he has capitulated to a collectivist or altruist morality. Often in history I think we find that the greater the artist the more humble they are before their conception of artistic greatness. The humility does not come from abasement before inferiors or mediocrities but rather a higher perception of the limitations of their art. Great artists could speak proudly, especially when unjustly maligned, but great artists from Leonardo da Vinci, Joshua Reynolds, Ingres, Lord Leighton, etc., were all known for a humble recognition of their abilities before their conception of the ideal in art. Such humbleness is far from personally degrading, but rather a spiritual stimulant for the artist to continue to look at Nature with an open, inquiring mind, never content to rest with formulae or mannerisms (especially their own), and allows them to be always ready with a humble word of acknowledgement for the achievements of other great artists.

A lesser man who does not see so far might compare himself to his peers and swell with pride; but the greatest artists always seem to measure themselves against the unattainable and so were perhaps felt their humble stature to a degree which is difficult for us to conceive. Simply because their comprehension was that more comprehensive.

regards,
Iian