Does great Image Quality of a lens lead to brilliant images?
Depends on your interpretation of a great image and Image Quality.
I feel that the definition of Image Quality for a photographic lens is too often a misnomer to describe sharpness as to me IQ is a complex blend of optical properties that create photographs.
But can all the pixel peeping and perusal of resolution charts for the sharpest lens lead to captivating images?
I doubt it.
image by Pete Ware , used with permission
If a photographer heavily concentrates on analysis too often gets lost with synthesis.
The individual that highly values the ultimate resolution in a lens, the highest pixel count on a sensor, the widest dynamic range in a camera, frequently fails to see the forest for the trees.
I see technically perfect images, probably taken on tripods with the largest camera possible that don't deliver emotions. And if a photograph does not stir me inside then it is just an attempt to record reality, sterile and soulless. While it might be useful for analyzing a place or event, possibly for record keeping, it lacks vision.
The deeper I venture into the art of photography the less I obsess over the sharpest results in my photographs and rather concentrate on the passion behind the click. I forego technical perfection while chasing the aesthetic beauty of a scene, and if the image I create does not evoke any feelings then I have failed in my synthesis.
image by Mattias Kühmayer, used with permission
Thank you to Pete and Matthias for being inspirational and showing me that lens IQ is overrated :-)