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The Art of Painting Of Charles Alphonse Du Fresnoy. Translated into English Verse By William Mason, M.A. With Annotations By Sir Joshua Reynolds, Knt. President of the Royal Academy. -

Charles Alphonse Du Fresnoy

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Uniform Title

[De arte graphica., Latin and English.]

Variant Title

Art of painting


York:: Printed by A. Ward,, and sold by J. Dodsley, Pall-Mall; T. Cadell, in the Strand; R. Faulder, New Bond-street,, London;: and J. Todd,, York.: M.DCC.LXXXIII.

Physical Description

xix, [3], 213, [3] p.; 270 mm. (Quarto).


[Half-t., t.-p.] - Epistle To Sir Joshua Reynolds [by W. Mason] - Preface - - The Life of Mons. Du Fresnoy - [Divisional t.p., 'The Art of Painting With The Original Text subjoined'] - [Text] - [Divisional t.p., 'Notes On The Art of Painting'] - [Text] - A Table Of The Rules Contained In The Foregoing Poem - [Divisional t.p., 'Appendix'] - [Text of 'The Sentiments Of Charles Alphonse |Du Fresnoy, On the Works of the Principal and best Painters of the two last Ages'] - [Divisional t.p., 'The Preface Of Mr. Dryden To His Translation, Containing a Parallel between Poetry and Painting'] - [Text] - [Divisional t.p., 'Epistle Of Mr. Pope To Mr. Jervas'] - [Text] [Divisional t.p., 'A Chronological List Of Painters From the Revival of the Art to the Beginning of the present Century' [by Mr. Gray]] - [Text] - Errata - [Publishers' advertisement].


ESTC, T22461
F.W. Hilles, The Literary career of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1936; rep. 1967); J. Reynolds, Sir Joshua Reynolds's notes and observations on pictures, ed. W. Cotton (1859).
J. Thuillier, 'Les Observations sur la peinture de Charles-Alphonse Du Fresnoy', in Walter Friedlaender zum 90. Geburtstag (1965), p.193-210.

Summary Note

Du Fresnoy's Latin poem was originally published shortly after his death in 1668. It was followed by translations into French (1668), English prose (by Dryden) (1695), German (1699), Italian (1713) and Dutch (1733). Du Fresnoy opens his poem by declaring that 'As poetry shall be like a painting, so should painting be like poetry'. Beauty should be interpreted in different ways - as may be seen in such famous ancient statues as the Antinous, the Hercules, the Venus, the dying Gladiator.

Reynolds published these annotations on Mason's translation of Du Fresnoy after a tour of the Netherlands, which filled him with admiration for the Dutch and Flemish masters (1781). Unlike his Discourses they have a practical rather than a theoretic focus (Fuseli called them 'treasures of practical observation'). They include comments on Titian, Veronese, Watteau and Rubens, express his views on the importance of colour, and reflect developments in his own painting.


A microfilm copy was published in 1986 (Woodbridge CT: Research Publications).


Acquired between 1823 and April 1834 (see under 'Painting & Sculpture' in Thomas Stothard's MS. list of additions to the Library [watermarked '1823'] loosely inserted in the master copy of the '1821' RA Library catalogue).

Copy Note

Imperfect; wanting the half-title.

Binding Note

18th-century half calf, marbled-papered boards; rebacked and recornered in 1990 by A. Wessely, black morocco spine-label lettered 'The Art Of Painting - Fresnoy'.

Name as Subject


Painting - Theory
Painters - History
Treatises - Latin poetry - Biography - France - 17th century
Treatises - Translations into English - Translations from Latin - Great Britain - 18th century


John Dryden
Thomas Gray
Roger de Piles, L'art de peinture de Charles-Alphonse Du Fresnoy, traduit en francais, avec des remarques
Alexander Pope
William Mason, translator, commentator
Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA, commentator
A. Ward, printer
John Todd, bookseller
James Dodsley, bookseller
Thomas Cadell the elder, bookseller
Robert Faulder, bookseller
Anthony Wessely, binder