For centuries a debate went on over which was a “nobler” art: painting or sculpture.
The painters said they had to invent everything and the sculptor practically nothing. His material, stone, was already a finished work of nature—beautiful, imposing. Someone pretty sophistically even said the only thing the sculptor had to do was remove the stone from a figure that was already in the block.
“Oh, come on,” said the sculptors. “A statue is a greater problem, and therefore a greater achievement, because we have to come up with a figure that looks good from many points of view, whereas you painters have only one view to worry about.”
Painters smiled at that one and went on sucking their pipes. They had plenty of arguments in their bag. “We have to invent the very light in our picture; it is already given to you sculptors by heaven. All you have to do is take advantage of natural light.”
Sculptors smiled back—a dustier smile, of course. “Our art requires much greater discipline and skill because of the serious limitations of the medium. Sculpture is like a sonnet, with the rhyme, the meter, and the lines fixed. You painters don’t have many limitations—you can depict anything: clouds, rainy days, things floating through the air.”
And so, back and forth.
See Gianlorenzo Bernini’s contribution to this debate