Le grand livre des peintres, ou l'art de la peinture, considéré dans toute ses parties, & démontré par principes; avec des réflexions sur les ouvrages de quelques bons maîtres, & sur les défauts qui s'y trouvent...Auquel on a joint les principes du dessein du même auteur. Traduit du Hollandois sur la seconde edition. [Translated by Hendrik Jansen]. Gerard de Lairesse.
Le grand livre des peintres, ou l'art de la peinture, considéré dans toute ses parties, & démontré par principes; avec des réflexions sur les ouvrages de quelques bons maîtres, & sur les défauts qui s'y trouvent...Auquel on a joint les principes du dessein du même auteur. Traduit du Hollandois sur la seconde edition. [Translated by Hendrik Jansen]

Le grand livre des peintres, ou l'art de la peinture, considéré dans toute ses parties, & démontré par principes; avec des réflexions sur les ouvrages de quelques bons maîtres, & sur les défauts qui s'y trouvent...Auquel on a joint les principes du dessein du même auteur. Traduit du Hollandois sur la seconde edition. [Translated by Hendrik Jansen]

Paris: [Pierre-Nicolas de Lormel for Nicolas-Léger] Moutard, 1787. 2 volumes, 4to (272 x 212 mm.), pp. xxii, 527, [1 blank]; [4], 662, [2]; 35 engraved plates (3 folding), engraved under the direction of Robert Bernard; a few woodcut head- and tail-pieces; original boards, entirely untrimmed, printed paper label on spine of volume 1 (paper backstrips worn, exposing cords, volume 2 label perished), pastedowns and spine liners of printer's waste, inserted manuscript sheet with a pen-and-ink elevation of a building on recto and a list of jokes in French on verso. Untrimmed, unpressed, and in the original publisher's boards: an unusual and compelling copy of the first edition in French of the Groot Schilderboek, a comprehensive manual of art theory and technique for aspiring artists by the Golden Age Dutch painter. Known as the "Dutch Poussin" for his classical French style, Lairesse's success as a painter of grand historical and mythological scenes for the palaces of the Amsterdam elite was cut short by blindness before he turned 50, probably a result of congenital syphilis. To the same disease, diagnosed in the twentieth century on the basis of Rembrandt's famous portrait, Lairesse showed physical disabilities that his personal charm and talent rendered irrelevent. When no longer able to paint, he turned to writing. In his art theoretical works Lairesse preached the superiority of the classical tradition. First published in Amsterdam in 1712, the "Great book of painters" provides comprehensive technical instruction for artists, treating portraiture, composition, the application of color, landscape painting, still-life, murals, ceiling painting, sculpture, engraving; and the depiction of interiors, perspective, light and shade, clothing, flowers, women, and architecture. Lairesse describes how to imitate the Old Masters and provides a survey of ancient mythology and classical history for the less educated artist. More than a simple manual, the work was a vehicle for Lairesse's conservative views of the meaning, function, and appropriate subject matter of art, his aesthetic views harmonizing with his French-influenced paintings. Scorning the grittiness of the works of his Dutch contemporaries, Lairesse called for nobility of subjects along with beauty of line. He deplored his peers' propensity to portray ordinary and even lower-class people and declared that "one can not call our modern painters artists, since all they do, in general, is produce servile copies of nature" (vol. I, p. 291). His book influenced numerous 18th and 19-century painters. This edition was shared: many copies have the imprint "à l'hôtel de Thou, rue des Poitevins." Preceding the Grand livre is a translation of Lairesse's first art manual (first edition 1701, first edition in French 1719), the Grondlegginge ter teekenkonst, an instructional program for learning drawing "using the elements of geometry" in 14 lessons. The pastedown endpapers of this copy, consisting of proof sheets from different editions, show that it was stitched into temporary protective pasteboards on the premises of the publisher-bookseller. Three editions are represented, of which at least two were published by Moutard (the comedy Les Courtisannes and the Continuation de la description des arts, respectively in 1775 and 1782). The two pastedowns of vol II are from the 1741 number of the periodical Histoire de l'Académie royal des sciences, edition unknown. Wormtrack in blank inner margin of a few quires, light foxing to folding plate in vol. II, small stain to lower cover of vol. II, otherwise a clean, crisp copy, about twice as thick as regular bound copies. Cicognara 152; Schlosser-Magnino, Letteratura artistica (1956), pp. 641 & 645. Item #38465

Price: $4,500.00

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