Rien n'est beau que le laid; le laid seul est aimable
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Rien n'est beau que le laid; le laid seul est aimable" is an anonymous French dictum. It translates as "only the ugly is beautiful, only the ugly is likeable" and is in fact a parodic paraphrase of "rien n'est beau que le vrai; le vrai seul est aimable" by Boileau.
The phrase was popular in the mid 19th-century and was used famously by Champfleury in an 1855 open letter from Champfleury to Sand, in which he said "Vive le laid ! le laid seul est aimable," but can be found as early as the 1840s in Journal d'un voyage en Orient (1844) by Joseph d’Estourmel.
Théophile Gautier, in his review of A Burial At Ornans of 1851 said that "our young painter" [Courbet] had parodied Nicolas Boileau by saying "only the ugly is beautiful, only the ugly is likeable."