Letitia Elizabeth Landon? Pablo Picasso? Samuel Rogers?
Dear Quote Investigator: The following statement has been attributed to the major artist Pablo Picasso:
Art! I love it for the buried hopes, the garnered memories, the tender feelings it can summon at a touch.
Curiously, a similar remark about music has been attributed to the Victorian novelist and poet Letitia Elizabeth Landon:
We love music for the buried hopes, the garnered memories, the tender feelings it can summon at a touch.
The poet Samuel Rogers has also been linked to the words above. Would you please help to dispel this confusion?
Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI appeared in the novel “Romance and Reality” by L.E.L. The three initials were used to designate the author Letitia Elizabeth Landon. The following passage employed a simile based on a magic lamp. Thus, the phrase “summon with a touch” referred to both a magical genie and intense feelings. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1
The man who stands listening to even a barrel-organ, because it repeats the tones “he loved from the lips of his nurse”—or who follows a common ballad-singer, because her song is familiar in its sweetness, or linked with touching words, or hallowed by the remembrance of some other and dearest voice—surely that man has a thousand times more “soul for music” than he who raves about execution, chromatic runs, semi-tones, &c. We would liken music to Aladdin’s lamp–worthless in itself, not so for the spirits which obey its call. We love it for the buried hopes, the garnered memories, the tender feelings, it can summon with a touch.
The parallel saying about art was attributed to Pablo Picasso in 1964, but the artist was not being quoted directly, and this linkage might be spurious. A detailed citation is given further below. By 2003 the saying about music was being credited to Samuel Rogers who had died in 1855. QI believes this linkage was not substantive.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.