1. If people knew how hard I worked to achieve my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.
2. I dare affirm that any artist… who has nothing singular, eccentric, or at least reputed to be so, in his person, will never become a superior talent.
3. Whenever a great painter… does a work which appears to be false and lying, that falsity is very true.
4. Poets and painters have the power to dare, I mean to dare to do whatever they may approve of…
5. I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
6. He who does not master the nude, cannot understand the principles of architecture.
7. What one has most to work and struggle for in painting is to do the work with a great amount of labor and sweat in such a way that it may afterwards appear, however much it was labored upon, to have been done almost quickly and almost without any labor, and very easily, although it was not.
8. My soul can find no staircase to heaven unless it be through earth’s loveliness.
9. The science of design, or of line-drawing, if you like to use this term, is the source and very essence of painting, sculpture, architecture… Sometimes… it seems to me that… all the works of the human brain and hand are either design itself or a branch of that art.
10. True art is made noble and religious by the mind producing it.
11. I already have a wife who is too much for me; she is my art, and my works are my children.
12. I sometimes set myself thinking and imagining that I find amongst men but one single art or science, and that is drawing or painting, all others being members proceeding therefrom.
13. Good painting is nothing else but a copy of the perfections of God and a reminder of His painting. Finally, good painting is a music and a melody which intellect only can appreciate, and with great difficulty.
14. A man paints with his brains and not with his hands.
15. In my opinion painting should be considered excellent in proportion as it approaches the effect of relief, while relief should be considered bad in proportion as it approaches the effect of painting.
16. I hope that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.
17. The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.
18. Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.
19. The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.
20. A beautiful thing never gives so much pain as does failing to hear and see it.
21. Genius is eternal patience.
22. It is well with me only when I have a chisel in my hand.
23. If we have been pleased with life, we should not be displeased with death, since it comes from the hand of the same master.
24. I had cause to think that if I remained in Rome, my tomb would be made sooner than the Pope’s. That was the reason for my sudden departure.
25. I told Your Holiness that painting is not my art; what I have done is spoiled.
26. What Raphael knew of art he learned from me.
27. I cannot live under pressures from patrons, let alone paint.
28. The marble not yet carved can hold the form of every thought the greatest artist has.
29. Beauty is the purgation of superfluities.
30. I began to understand that the promises of the world are for the most part phantoms, and that to have faith in oneself and become something of worth and value is the best and safest course.
31. In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to other eyes as mine see it.
32. The statue is already in the stone, has been in the stone since the beginning of time, and the sculptor’s job is to see it and release it by carefully scraping away the excess material.
33. A great sculpture can roll down a hill without breaking.
34. Every beauty which is seen here by persons of perception resembles more than anything else that celestial source from which we all are come.
35. I have finished that chapel I have been painting.
36. I am still learning.