The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Basil Hallward Character Analysis

The painter who becomes enamored with Dorian Gray’s beauty and innocence, seeing him as the ideal to which his work has always aspired. He makes Dorian sit for hundreds of portraits. When one day he paints a portrait of true likeness to Dorian, his feelings overwhelm him. It is the best work he has ever done but he is afraid that there is too much of himself in it. After the painting, his artistry becomes average, he can never elevate his work to the perfection that Dorian inspired at his youthful peak. He tries to guide Dorian towards decency, so in love is he with the memory of that innocent boy, but the knowledge of how Basil has dictated his now tortured existence with his painting and his passion, enrages Dorian, who kills Basil. Basil becomes a sad example of a good artist disappearing in sacrifice for Art.

Basil Hallward Quotes in The Picture of Dorian Gray

The The Picture of Dorian Gray quotes below are all either spoken by Basil Hallward or refer to Basil Hallward. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray published in 2003.
Chapter 1 Quotes

“He is all my art to me now.”

Related Characters: Basil Hallward (speaker), Dorian Gray
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

Basil has been telling Lord Henry about Dorian, describing Dorian's extraordinary beauty and explaining the transformative impact of his presence on Basil's work. He likens Dorian's arrival to the dawn of a new artistic movement or era, and says that Dorian is all Basil's art now. This highly dramatic, romantic language is typical of the novel, and it helps create the impression of Dorian as a larger-than-life figure, building suspense in the lead up to his entrance in the next chapter. Basil's exaggerated reverence for his muse also hints at Dorian's sexual power, and is an example of the many homoerotic dynamics within the narrative.

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“An artist should create beautiful things but should put nothing of his own life into them”

Related Characters: Basil Hallward (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Picture
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

Basil has explained to Lord Henry that he does not want to exhibit his painting of Dorian because there is too much of himself in it. Lord Henry responds that poets often put themselves into their work, for example when they suffer heartbreak and use the experience as inspiration for their poetry. Basil rejects this, adamantly maintaining the view that an artist should not put "his own life" into his work. This directly echoes the statement in the preface that "to reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim." Again, this principle is a central tenet of Aestheticism, a movement to which both Basil and Oscar Wilde himself subscribed. 

Chapter 9 Quotes

“One day, a fatal day I sometimes think, I determined to paint a wonderful portrait of you as you actually are, not in the costume of dead ages, but in your own dress and in your on time.”

Related Characters: Basil Hallward (speaker), Dorian Gray
Related Symbols: The Picture
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:
Dorian has confused Basil by vehemently refusing to let him see the portrait; to distract Basil from this suspicious behavior, Dorian has asked why he plans to show the painting now after always refusing to do so before, offering that they "share" their secrets. Basil admits that at first he tried painting Dorian in various historical settings (for example, as a character from Greek mythology), but that on a "fatal" day he decided to simply paint Dorian as he was in his present-day context. This dramatic language is typical of the novel, especially when the characters discuss art––yet in this instance Basil is right to use the word "fatal," as the portrait has indirectly already caused one death (Sybil's) and will come to cause others. 
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Basil Hallward Character Timeline in The Picture of Dorian Gray

The timeline below shows where the character Basil Hallward appears in The Picture of Dorian Gray. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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The novel opens in the gorgeous flower-filled rooms of Basil Hallward’s house. Lord Henry Wotton and Basil are together in the studio, considering the portrait... (full context)
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Basil says he has put too much of himself into the painting to exhibit it. Lord... (full context)
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Realizing he has given away Dorian’s name, Basil confesses that he hadn’t wanted to reveal him to Henry, but had wanted to keep... (full context)
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Basil met Dorian Gray at a party. He says that an artist must go into society... (full context)
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Lady Brandon, a shrill, social butterfly, brings Basil around to meet some of the guests. Spotting Dorian again, Basil asks to be introduced,... (full context)
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Henry mentions that laughter is a good basis for friendship, but Basil teases that Henry knows nothing about friendship. Henry disagrees, he chooses his friends carefully for... (full context)
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The subject turns back to Dorian Gray. Basil confesses that he has been spending more and more time with the boy and that... (full context)
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Henry desperately wants to meet Dorian now. Basil explains that Dorian will probably not have the same effect for Henry, that it is... (full context)
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When asked if Dorian Gray has any fondness for him in return, Basil says he sees a certain affection in Dorian, but he may just be enjoying the... (full context)
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...he is very glad to have passed up a tedious lunch for an afternoon at Basil’s instead. He remembers then that he has heard about Dorian’s charms from his Aunt. Basil... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Henry and Basil go into the house and find Dorian Gray playing a song at Basil’s piano. Lord... (full context)
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Basil is getting nervous at Henry’s affect on the afternoon he had planned. He tells Henry... (full context)
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...is not interested in faithfulness and lasting, so they agree to have a capricious friendship. Basil is painting with a great passion. When he is finished, Henry congratulates him. It is... (full context)
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...and beautiful forever. He says he will give his soul to trade places. He accuses Basil of only caring about him as much as a statue. The outburst is so unlike... (full context)
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Basil tries to comfort Dorian, but he is distraught. He blames Lord Henry, and they quarrel... (full context)
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As they have tea, Basil reprimands Henry for saying wild things to Dorian. But Dorian is not put off. When... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...his curiosity. The possibilities of influence upon him seemed limitless. Lord Henry also thinks about Basil, and finds the whole story of secret influences and affections very exciting. He vows to... (full context)
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...park. Dorian wishes to follow, even though he has made a prior engagement to visit Basil. Henry can’t promise him any more talking but says he may accompany him, and “look... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...the theatre - every night is another unmissable heroine. But Dorian does want Henry and Basil to come with him one evening, and help him to free Sybil from her contract... (full context)
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Dorian hasn’t been keeping in touch with Basil. The last contact he had was when Basil sent the portrait to him in a... (full context)
Chapter 6
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As they dine together, Henry informs Basil that Dorian is to be married. Basil doesn’t believe it, and Henry reminds him that... (full context)
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...actually Sybil who first mentioned marriage. Henry comments that this is typical of a woman. Basil scolds him for his rudeness but Dorian’s spirits will not be dampened. He declares himself... (full context)
Chapter 7
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When they arrive at the theater, Henry and Basil see firsthand its crude set up and rough-looking crowd. Dorian promises Henry that Sybil will... (full context)
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...terrifies Dorian. During the famous balcony scene, Juliet’s words are flat and lifeless. Henry and Basil decide to leave. Henry reassures him that she is very beautiful nonetheless. Love is better... (full context)
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...house, where the lamps are still burning. Among the luxurious treasure of his home sits Basil’s portrait. Today, something about it causes him to double-take. The expression on the portrait’s face... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Basil arrives at Dorian’s house, and expresses his sympathy for him, and for Sybil Vane and... (full context)
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At the mention of what is in store for Sybil’s “little white body”, Dorian orders Basil to stop. He says that the incident is over, he has mastered the emotion of... (full context)
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Basil is sickened at the idea of Sybil killing herself but Dorian explains the beauty of... (full context)
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Dorian requests that Basil do a portrait of Sybil. Basil agrees but really wants Dorian to sit for him... (full context)
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Dorian asks Basil to trade secrets with him. He asks why Basil refused to exhibit the picture at... (full context)
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Basil explains that when he met Dorian, he was struck by a strange fascination. Dorian became... (full context)
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As soon as Basil had removed the painting from his studio, the curse lifted, and he saw clearly the... (full context)
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Basil, set to go home, reaffirms the importance of Dorian and the painting to him, and... (full context)
Chapter 10
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With Basil gone, Dorian begins to get suspicious of his servant Victor, imagining him sneaking a glance... (full context)
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...showing him his rotten soul. He regrets for a moment not sharing the burden with Basil. He feels a sudden appreciation for the love that Basil showed him, a kind of... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...Dorian is approaching his thirty-eighth birthday. Walking home from an evening at Henry’s, he sees Basil Hallward in the street. Dorian pretends he hasn’t seen Basil, but Basil soon catches up... (full context)
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Dorian reluctantly invites Basil in, if he promises not to talk about serious things. Despite Dorian’s request, Basil insists... (full context)
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Dorian scolds Basil. It is quite the reverse, he claims. It is their own scandalous ways that makes... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Dorian leads Basil to the top of the house. He is smiling with a strange pride at what... (full context)
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Dorian reminds Basil of the wish he had made on seeing the portrait for the first time. Basil... (full context)
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Dorian tells Basil it is too late for prayer, he doesn’t believe in the words. Basil scolds him.... (full context)
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The sound of Basil’s blood is a horrible drip, drip, drip on the floor of the schoolroom. Dorian goes... (full context)
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...up the room and goes down to the library. He says to himself that since Basil was supposed to go to Paris that evening for six months, nobody would suspect anything... (full context)
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It occurs to Dorian that he has plenty of time to dispose of Basil’s body. He fetches his servant Francis and asks to be woken early the next morning... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...night’s bloody events come back to him. Dorian sickens and feels again the loathing for Basil that had caused him to strike. How strange it is, he considers, to have a... (full context)
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...with his servant. He spends some time sketching, but soon the drawings start to resemble Basil Hallward. Determined to distract himself, Dorian goes to the bookshelf and picks an ornately bound... (full context)
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...of the portrait, and its gory colors seem even worse to him than those of Basil’s body. Dorian goes in and covers the painting, and leaves Alan Campbell to his work.... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...at the mention of the previous evening worries him. When he gets home, he burns Basil’s clothes and bag. (full context)
Chapter 16
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...around them, each in a state of the forgetfulness that Adrian describes. The memory of Basil haunts Dorian. And so does the presence of his changed old friend. Dorian wants to... (full context)
Chapter 19
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The topic turns to Basil’s disappearance, which has now been noted by the police and talked about for some time,... (full context)
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...for a pianist, he notes. Dorian asks about the rumors of murder that are following Basil’s case but Henry finds the whole topic quite dull. He says that the only time... (full context)
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Dorian asks Henry how he would react if he told him that he had murdered Basil. Henry says that Dorian could never do such a thing. Murderers are low down people.... (full context)