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Manuel D'Iconographie Chrétienne Grecque Et Latine Avec Une Introduction Et Des Notes Par M. Didron De La Bibliothèque Royale Secrétaire Du Comité Historique Des Arts Et Monuments Traduit Du Manuscrit Byzantin, Le Guide De La Peinture Par Le Dr Paul Durand Correspondant Du Comité Historique Des Arts Et Monuments

Dionysius of Furna

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Uniform Title

[Hermenia tes zographices technes., French., Durand., 1845.]

Variant Title

Guide de la peinture


Paris: Imprimerie Royale, M DCCC XLV

Physical Description

[ii], xlviii, 483, [1] p.; 234 mm. (Octavo.)


[T.p., dedic.] - Introduction - [Text] - Table Du Présent Ouvrage

Responsibility Note

The edition is dedicated by Didron to Victor Hugo.


The painter's manual of Dionysius of Fourna, tr. P. Hetherington (1998).

On A.N. Didron see C. Brisac and J.M. Leniaud, 'Adolphe-Napoléon Didron ou les médias au service de l'art chrétien', in Rev. A. (Paris), 77 (1987), p.33-42. Two studies of the revival of interest in pre-Renaissance art are M.P. Dristel, Representing belief: religion, art and society in nineteenth-century France (1992) and D. Talbot Rice, The appreciation of Byzantine art (1972).

On Christian iconography and the Christian theology of images see L. Ouspensky and V. Lossky, The meaning of icons (1952); J.J. Pelikan, Imago Dei: the Byzantine apologia for icons (1972).

Summary Note

Although written in the early eighteenth century, Dionysius's manual draws on a long-established tradition of painting, that had prevailed in Europe from the decline of classical naturalism in about the 4th century to its renaissance in the 14th. Both Didron and Durand were apologists for this tradition in nineteenth-century Europe. In some respects it is interesting to compare this handbook with Cennini's late-14th-century Libro dell'Arte.

The text is presented in three parts, with an appendix: 1. Technical aspects of preparing grounds and colors and methods of painting; 2. Iconography of the Old Testament; iconography of the New Testament, of Christ, the Mother of God and Christian saints; 3. The arranging of images in churches; Appendix, chiefly on inscriptions for Christian images. The work does not expound the theology of the acceptance of images in the Christian religion - which has been of such significance in the history of art in Europe.

Unfortunately the hand-book is not illustrated. It has traditionally been used in contexts where the painter is surrounded by examples of the methods described in the text.

Translations of the original have been published in German and English. The Greek text was published at St. Petersburg in 1909, and reprinted at Athens in 1975.


Purchased for RA Library in 1868 (see 'Report on the Library', RA Annual Report for 1868, Appendix No. 6, p. 31). A second (or replacement?) copy was purchased in 1871 (see 'Library Report for the Year 1871', RA Annual Report, Appendix No. 7, p. 26).

Binding Note

19th-century half red morocco, marbled-papered boards; spine lettered 'Panselinos. Manuel D'Iconographie Chrétienne. Didron Et Durand.'

Name as Subject


Christian art and symbolism - Saints - Iconography
Painting - Mural painting and decoration - Church decoration and ornament - Object groupings and systems - Tempera - Egg tempera - Artists' materials - Icons - Techniques - Greece - History - 18th century
Manuals - Textbooks - Instructional materials - Greece - 18th century
Manuals - Translations into French - Translations from Greek - France - 19th century


Victor Hugo, dedicatee
Adolphe Napoleon Didron, editor
Paul Durand, translator
France - Imprimerie Nationale, printer, publisher