Codex Rare Books logo wordmark

The Art of Painting of Charles Alphonse du Fresnoy

Gallery of 48 pages.

The Art of Painting of Charles Alphonse du Fresnoy

Enjoy this free sample provided by Codex Rare Books.

To view over 1087 other titles in our continuously-growing catalogue, subscribe to Codex Rare Books today!

Subscribe to our service: Click here to create an account…

The full title reads as follows:

"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. / 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."

The half-title reads as follows:

"Charles Alphonse Du Fresnoy's / Art of Painting / Translated into English Verse."

Issue Points

The first edition of William Mason's translation.

Historical Importance

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. It was first published in Paris in 1684 by his friend and fellow artist Pierre Mignard. 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.” William Mason (1725-1797), poet and crony of Thomas Gray and Horace Walpole, labored for several 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 own 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 since the Renaissance that had been prepared for his own use by the great poet Thomas Gray.


  • Thomas Wharton
    Thomas Wharton (or Warton), Poet Laureate (1728-90; his signature at the head of the title). Warton was an English literary historian, critic, and poet. From 1785 to 1790 he was the Poet Laureate of England. He is sometimes called Thomas Warton the younger to distinguish him from his father Thomas Warton the elder. His most famous poem remains The Pleasures of Melancholy, a representative work of the Graveyard poets.
  • Accrington Public Library
    The library's perforated stamp upon the title and ink circulating stamp, dated May 1915, upon the verso of the title.

Early Modern18th centuryEnlightenmentArt HistoryArtPaintingLiteraturePoetryEnglish LiteratureEnglish PoetryFirst EditionsHanoverianGeorge IIIEnglish TranslationFrench OriginalThomas WhartonFamous ProvenanceThomas WartonCharles Alphonse Du FresnoyJoshua ReynoldsWilliam MasonGraveyard PoetsThomas BirchJohn DrydenAlexander Pope

All images and other content © 2016–2020 Codex Rare Books. All use of this website is governed by the Terms of Use and the Privacy Policy.