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
Printed by A. Ward, and sold by J. Dodsley, T. Cadell, [et al.]: York, 1783. 4to, contemporary full speckled calf, backstrip decorated in gilt, gilt-lettered black morocco backstrip label. [iii]-xix, [iii], 213, [1(errata)], [1(ads)] pp. Bookplates of Ham Court and Harrison Hayford. Rubbed, lacking half-title, minor worming at gutter of preliminary leaves, occasional foxing; a very respectable association copy. First Edition of this translation. Charles Alphonse du Fresnoy ( 1611-1665) had a modestly successful career as a painter but is best remembered for his Latin poem De arte graphica, which he wrote while studying art in Italy and which was first published in Paris in 1684 by his friend and fellow -artist Pierre Mignard. As EB 11 states, the work "embodied his observations on the art of painting; it may be termed a critical treatise on the practice of the art with general advice to students. The precepts are sound according to the standard of his time; the poetical merits slender enough." The poem was soon translated into French; the elderly John Dryden later rendered it in English prose. William Mason (1725-1797), poet and crony of Thomas Gray and Horace Walpole, labored for some years on this new version in English heroic couplets. This edition includes a poetic dedication from Mason to Sir Joshua Reynolds (who had urged him to revise and publish the work), an interesting critical preface by Mason, a brief biography of Du Fresnoy by Thomas Birch, the poem itself in both English and Latin, copious notes by Mason and Reynolds, some comments by du Fresnoy on the painters of his time and of previous generations, Dryden's preface to his prose translation, a poetic epistle by Alexander Pope that was habitually printed with Dryden's translation, and a table of great artists and their works that had been prepared for his own use by Thomas Gray. This copy has an interesting association in the Ham Court bookplate, with its inked shelf numbers. Ham Court was the Worcestershire home of Joseph Martin, a late-18th-century collector and the presiding Canon of Exeter Cathedral. Beyond the fact that it contained some important Dutch landscapes, little seems to be known of Martin's collection; but he clearly had a proper art-reference library. Harrison Hayford is an eminent authority on Herman Melville and a book collector of distinction. Gaskell, William Mason, 32. Hilles, Literary Career of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 18. Rothschild 1401.
(Item Id: 5860)