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An Idea Of the Perfection Of Painting: Demonstrated From the Principles of Art, and by Examples conformable to the Observations, which Pliny and Quintilian have made upon the most celebrated Pieces of the Antient Painters, Parallel'd with some Works of the most famous Modern Painters, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Julio Romano, and N. Poussin. - Written in French By Roland Freart, Sieur de Cambray, And rendred English By J.E. Esquire, Fellow of the Royal Society. -

Roland Freart Sieur de Chambray

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Uniform Title

[Idée de la perfection de la peinture démontrée par les principes de l'art, et par des éxemples., English., Evelyn., 1668.]


[London:]: In the Savoy: Printed for Henry Herringman at the Sign of the Anchor in the Lower-walk of the New-Exchange., 1668.

Physical Description

[40], 136 p.; 165 mm. (Octavo.)


[T.p.] - The Preface - An Advertisement To The Reader - [Translator's dedic.] - To The Reader [by J. Evelyn] - Errata - [Text].

Responsibility Note

This translation is dedicated by J. Evelyn to 'Henry Howard Of Norfolk Heir-apparent to that Dukedom'.


ESTC, R8804
C. Harrison et al., edd., Art in Theory 1648-1815 An Anthology (2000), p.75-6, 89-94.
B. Teyssèdre, Roger de Piles et les débats sur le coloris au siècle de Louis XIV (1957), p.56-62.

Summary Note

The work was first published in French in 1662. Fréart stressed the primacy of drawing and linear perspective over colour in painting, and the intellectual over the sensual and visual. He regarded the paintings of Raphael and Poussin as the realisation of the classical ideal; and was critical not only of Rubens, Caravaggio, Tintoretto and Veronese but also of Michelangelo, for extravagant and capricious composition. The treatise is arranged under the follwing headings: 1. Of Invention; 2. Of Proportion; 3. Of Colouring; 4. Of Motion and Expression; 5. Of the Regular Position of Figures; 1st Stamp. The Judgment of Paris [by Raphael]; 2nd. The Massacre of the Innocents [by Raphael]; 3rd. our Lord's Descent from the Crosse [by Raphael]; Explication of Costume; Examen of the Judgement of Michael Angelo; The Examen reassum'd Of the Descent of our Lord from the Cross; The Ingenious Representation Of A Vast Cyclop in a narrow Table, Painted by Timanthes; Imitation of the same kind By Julio Romano; 1st Print. The Gymnasium or Academy of the Athenian Philosophers [by Raphael].


A microfilm copy was published in 1964 (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms).


The title page is inscribed in ink, 'Bequest of Sr. Augs Callcott.'

Binding Note

19th-century quarter red morocco, green cloth-covered boards; spine lettered 'The Perfection Of Painting.' and 'R.A.'

Name as Subject


Art - Painting - Theory
Treatises - Essays - Art history - Art criticism - France - 17th century
Treatises - Essays - Translations from French - Translations into English - Great Britain - 17th century


John Evelyn, translator
Henry Herringman, publisher, bookseller
Sir Augustus Wall Callcott RA, previous owner, donor
Henry Howard, 6th Duke of Norfolk, dedicatee