I shall not find a painting more beautiful because the artist has painted a hawthorn in the foreground, though I know of nothing more beautiful than the hawthorn, for I wish to remain sincere and because I know that the beauty of a painting does not depend on the things represented in it. I shall not collect images of hawthorn. I do not venerate hawthorn, I go to see and smell it.
Preface (1910) to The Bible of Amiens by John Ruskin, translated by Proust (1904); from Marcel Proust: On Reading Ruskin, trans. Jean Autret and Philip J. Wolfe (Yale University Press, 1987, ISBN 0-300-04503-4), p. 57