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The Principles Of Painting, Under the Heads of Anatomy Attitude Accident Architecture Composition Claro-obscuro Contrast Colouring Design Disposition Draperies Expression Harmony History Invention Landskip Lights Proportion Passion Portraiture Sculpture Style Truth Unity, &c. - In which is Contained, An Account of the Athenian, Roman, Venetian and Flemish Schools. - To which is Added, The Balance of Painters. Being The Names of the most noted Painters, and their Degrees of Perfection in the Four principal Parts of their Art: Of singular Use to those who would form an Idea of the Value of Paintings and Pictures. - Written Originally in French by Mons. Du Piles, Author of The Lives of the Painters. - And now first Translated into English. By a Painter. -

Roger de Piles

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Uniform Title

[Cours de peinture par principes avec un balance de peintres., English.]


London:: Printed for J. Osborn, at the Golden Ball, in Pater-noster Row., M.DCC.XLIII.

Physical Description

xii, 300, [8] p., 2 pl.; 197 mm. (Octavo.)

General Note

Page 184 is misnumbered as 284.


[T.p.] - The Translator's Preface - The Author's Preface, On The Idea of Painting - [Text] - The Balance Of Painters [or, 'A Catalogue Of The Names of the most noted Painters, and their Degrees of Perfection ...'] - The Table [index].

Responsibility Note

The plates are signed as engraved by J. Mynde.


ESTC, T10569
C. Harrison et al., edd., Art in Theory 1648-1815 An Anthology (2000), p.308-13.
J. Thuillier, Préface au 'Cours de peinture par principes' par Roger de Piles (1989).
T. Puttfarken, Roger de Piles' theory of art (1985).
; B. Teyssèdre, Roger de Piles et les débats sur le coloris au siècle de Louis XIV (1965).

Summary Note

The work was first published in French in 1708.

Here Piles stresses the visual rather than the intellectual character of painting. He argues that the 'tout-ensemble' of a painting should, by form and colour, have an immediate effect on the viewer.

Both plates are captioned, and show 'A demonstration of the unity of the Object'.


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


Acquired between 1821 and 1841.

Binding Note

18th-century half calf, marbled-papered boards; rebacked in 20th century, green morocco spine-label lettered 'Du Piles - The Principles Of Painting', spine lettered '1743'.


J. Osborn, publisher
James Mynde, engraver