De Arte Graphica (The Art of Painting). ISSUED WITH: A Short Account of Painters

John DRYDEN   |   Charles Alphonse DU FRESNOY

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De Arte Graphica (The Art of Painting).  ISSUED WITH: A Short Account of Painters


(DRYDEN, John) DU FRESNOY, Charles Alphonse. De Arte Graphica. The Art of Painting. ISSUED WITH: [GRAHAM, Richard]. A Short Account of the Most Eminent Painters both Ancient and Modern. London: W. Rogers, 1695. Two volumes in one. Thick, square octavo, 19th-century three-quarter tan calf, black and green morocco spine labels, marbled boards, endpapers and edges. $2200.

First translation into English prose by Dryden of Du Fresnoy’s Latin poem on the practice of art, prefaced by Dryden’s famous Parallel of Poetry and Painting, with engraved allegorical frontispiece by Henry Cooke, issued together with Richard Graham’s biographical chronology of painters.

Du Fresnoy is remembered now almost entirely as a writer rather than a painter. While his few paintings are at best reminiscent of Carraci and Titian, “he was a great master of the rules, history, and theory of his profession” (Chalmers). His Latin poem, De Arte Graphica, written during his 24-year Italian sojourn, is well-regarded as a critical treatise on the practice of the art, with general advice to students. It embodies his observations on the art of painting in sound precepts according to the standards of his time. First published in Latin by his friend Pierre Mignard in 1656, De Arte Graphica was translated into English prose by Dryden, prefaced by his famous Parallel of Poetry and Painting: “Expression and all that belongs to words, is that in a poem which coloring is in a picture. The colors well chosen in their proper places, together with the lights and shadows which belong to them, lighten the design, and make it pleasing to the eye. The words, the expressions, the tropes and figures, the versification, and all other elegancies of sound… perform exactly the same office both in dramatic and epic poetry.” Issued with this edition was the first appearance of Richard Graham’s biographical chronology of famous artists, from Ardices the Corinthian to John Riley, court painter to Charles II, under a separate title page. “Graham was an acquaintance of Vertue, the engraver, and supplied him with some of the information worked up by Horace Walpole into his Anecdotes of Painting (1762)” (DNB). MacDonald 139a. Wing D2458.

Interior near-fine, with only faint foxing to first and last few leaves. Corners rubbed. A near-fine copy.

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