Inspiring The Picture of Dorian Gray quotes that every creative person should know

The Picture of Dorian Gray Quotes

 Photography © Naufragia (2017).
By Yuliana Guédez Forgiarini. 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Here you will find my selection of The Picture of Dorian Gray quotes. Are you a fan of the Picture of Dorian Gray? Or perhaps you’re someone who has heard how good of a book it is, but never actually read it? – If it’s like that, do not worry; I’m keeping this post pretty “spoiler-free”. Nevertheless, I hope to awaken your love for this book, be it for the first time or the second time around, with the Dorian Gray quotes I’ll show you ahead. I’m sure they’ll serve as inspiration, for which I consider them very useful for any artist, photographer or designer.

You can also download my selection of The Picture of Dorian Gray quotes, but I recommend you to read the blog version, because I also comment what was inspiring or philosophically interesting for me while I read the book. 

The phrases are arranged in order of appearance. It is important to clarify that what I say about them is my opinion, and thus you should not take my comments as “The Only Truth”.

Surely you’ve already heard of its argument, but if it’s not that way, I’ll summarize it for you: The Picture of Dorian Gray, written by Oscar Wilde, is a novel from the XIX century that relates the story of a young man (Dorian Gray) who does not grow old; all this because of a portrait that Basil, a painter who admired Dorian’s beauty deeply, made of him. This portrait, with time, grew old and changed features while Dorian looked as splendid as always.

Strange as it may be, the great “Dorian Gray quotes” do not often come from Basil nor Dorian, but from the paradoxical Lord Henry; a great friend of Basil’s who also becomes friends with Dorian Gray, influencing deeply in his way of looking at life. If you haven’t read the book, I hope to convince you to do so by showing you these quotes. Here we go!

 Photography © Naufragia (2017).
By Yuliana Guédez Forgiarini. 

The picture of Dorian Gray Quotes.

“Beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins.”

-Lord Henry.

The first of The Picture of Dorian Gray quotes that I want to talk about, reminds us of Kant’s conception about beauty on his essay “Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime”. The philosopher expresses, referring to the feminine sex:

Deep meditation and a long-sustained reflection are noble but difficult, and do not well befit a person in whom unconstrained charms should show nothing else than a beautiful nature. Laborious learning or painful pondering, even if a woman should greatly succeed in it, destroy the merits that are proper to her sex, […]; but at the same time they will weaken the charms with which she exercises her great power over the other sex. A woman […] might as well even have a beard; for perhaps that would express more obviously the mien of profundity for which she strives.”

(From “Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime” by Kant, translated by John T. Goldthwait).

On this essay, Kant clarifies that the feminine sex is beautiful by nature, while the masculine goes towards the sublime. It is curious that on The Picture of Dorian Gray, it is actually a man who is beautiful; yet there is a “Kantian” conception in Lord Henry’s comments; in which he expresses that intellectual expression (a sublime characteristic), makes the subject less beautiful.

Intellect is in itself an exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face.”

– Lord Henry

This quote along with the one mentioned before, reveal us a lot of Oscar Wilde’s personality. It is important to remember that, even if The Picture of Dorian Gray is written in a very nice and easy-paced way, this book was also an aesthetical document by the time it was published. It was a revolution against the ideas of the time, where society wasn’t as open and liberal in many subjects. Basil’s constant admiration towards Dorian Gray gave enough reasons to society to judge Oscar Wilde based on his homosexuality, which made him suffer

“You know how I love secrecy. It is the only thing that can make modern life wonderful or mysterious to us.”


Basil, the painter, is a character that I believe has not many great quotes to remember; but he is also the character I feel the most identified with. However, he does have a few memorable and outstanding quotes. I believe that in the contemporary society, being so bombed with information, secrecy should be valued above all things. 

‘Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know,’

– Lord Henry.

Lord Henry and his paradoxical quotes… he always makes us think. Do we even know what being natural is? What does it mean to be us?

“An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them. We live in an age when men treat art as if it were meant to be a form of autobiography.”


This is an interesting approach towards the artist and his work. Why does the work of art always have to be self-biographical? And yet… in History, we have seen that only the best works of art are self-biographical.

“There is no such thing as a good influence. […] All influence is immoral. To influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else’s music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him.”

– Lord Henry.

I consider this fragment as one of the most important to comprehend Henry, because later in the book we will see how much of an influence (or not?) he will be towards Dorian. 

“People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one’s self”

– Lord Henry.

This is also one of the phrases I like to keep from the book. Have you ever forgotten to please yourself in order to please others?

“But the bravest man among us is afraid of himself”

– Lord Henry.

Bravery, on certain occasions, can scare our enemies… but it can also, inevitably, scare ourselves.

“Beauty is a form of Genius, —is higher, indeed, than Genius, as it needs no explanation.”

Lord Henry

Throughout the book, Henry always puts beauty above genius, or rather, beauty as the highest form of genius. –Beauty is superior than sublime–, if we give it a Kantian interpretation. It is curious, simple things are the most beautiful of all, they do not require explanation and are perfect. 

“Punctuality is the thief of time”

– Lord Henry

This one is a good phrase to say to your friends when you’re late in a meeting.

“Nowadays people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing.”

-Lord Henry

This is one of those phrases that still work perfectly for nowadays, more than ever. Do you know the value of the things and the people that you care about?


 Photography © Naufragia (2017).
By Yuliana Guédez Forgiarini. 

“Beauty being the poisonous secret of life.”

– Lord Henry

Be careful with Henry… you could end up losing yourself in superficiality. And yet, some truth he does say. Beautiful things fascinate us.

“It is only the sacred things that are worth touching”.

– Lord Henry.

Contrary to any Buddhist ideology, Henry’s philosophy of life is based on achieving your own wishes and deepest desires.

“It is personalities, not principles, that move the age.”

– Lord Henry.

Haven’t you ever fallen in love with someone’s personality, even if his/her principles aren’t so noble? When we meet someone, we’re more interested in speaking with that person just for having the pleasure to admire his/her personality; this becomes more important than getting to know what they stand for: their principles; which we barely get to know on rare occasions. 

“When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy.”

– Lord Henry.

Searching for happiness before being good? Well… if happiness makes us good… oh! Dangerous selfishness.

“To be good is to be in harmony with ones self. Discord is to be forced to be in harmony with others.” 

– Lord Henry.

I’m one of those people who think that there must be balance between both: yourself and others. However, if you must pick, being in harmony with ones self is what will allow you to be, later on, in harmony with others.

“I love acting. It is so much more real than life.”

– Lord Henry.

This is a much more truthful phrase than it seems to be. In life, people act to coexist in society… but acting, especially with great actors, is about showing true and deep emotions; getting their souls (and sometimes bodies) naked in order to convey a scene masterfully.

“There is always something ridiculous about the passions of people whom one has ceased to love.”

– Narrator

This is a cruel but truthful phrase. If you’ve ever broken up with a significant other, or someone has ever broken up with you, you know that this The Picture of Dorian Gray quote is speaking the truth. This also applies to friendships.

“But the picture? What was he to say of that? It held the secret of his life, and told his story. It had taught him to love his own beauty. Would it teach him to loathe his own soul?”

– Narrator

As a portrait artist I cannot help but to feel intrigued. I always aspire to portray my models psychologically … I wonder, are there any portraits made with such a skill that cause a deep introspection in their model? Do these portraits infiltrate into their conscience? Can a powerful sign transform the object that created it?

“We live in an age that reads too much to be wise, and that thinks too much to be beautiful.”

Lord Henry

Hmm… and yet this phrase is written on a book. The Picture of Dorian Gray quotes never cease to surprise us with ironies.


“There is something fatal about a portrait. It has a life of its own.”

Dorian Gray.

Oh Dorian… even if your portrait was an analogy and a hyperbole at the same time, I don’t think you were wrong. On this Dorian Gray quote, we see a portrait is a separated thing from its creator and the model; the portrait is some kind of a fusion between both, along with the Space and Time in which it was made. These ‘parents’ will later on admire or hate the beauty of their son, and if this son is approved, he will be presented to society proudly.

“He knew that the senses, no less than the soul, have their mysteries to reveal.”

– Narrator

Nowadays we tend to give less importance to our senses… we fully believe in the Reality they present to us, but we don’t take a while to think about the magnificence they have by themselves very often. They are, without a doubt, very impressive; even if they give us limited perceptions of the world around us.


“Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.”

– Lord Henry

These Dorian Gray quotes show us the true face of the main character; searching for expiation for his sins in what Henry had told him before. However, I believe that maybe exploiting our senses with harmony, we can truly develop our soul. 

The great value that The Picture of Dorian Gray quotes have is that they are applicable to our lives, they make us rethink about life; leading us towards introspection. In general, every phrase that I have listed in here have caused that effect on me, or at least deepened my curiosity.

Maybe some of The Picture of Dorian Gray quotes can be catalogued today as sexist, but in my opinion, more than sexist, it’s a showcase of gender roles. I am thankful for how society is now on that, as I tend to prefer intellect over the beauty “inherent” to my feminine sex… However, as an artist I always look for beauty in my works. Moreover, it is very interesting to take a look at the past and see how things used to be not so long ago.

Until the next trip!

“What of Art?
-It is a malady.
-An Illusion.
-The fashionable substitute for Belief.
-You are a skeptic.
-Never! Skepticism is the beginning of Faith.
-What are you?
-To define is to limit.”

– Gladys and Henry.

Join my adventures by subscribing to my newsletter, and get a FREE texture pack just for getting on board!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

yuliana guédez forgiarini

I’m interested on international and individual concepts related to human beings. Naufragia is my open diary with an emphasis on photography, design and art, as well as humanist investigation. I search and dive deep in every project until I reach its soul. I’m open for commissions and good conversations. Want to join my adventures?