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Hence it appeareth that Painting is an Art, because it imitateth natural things most precisely, and is the counterfeiter and (as it were) the very Ape of nature ; whose Quantity, Eminency and Colours, it ever striveth to imitate, performing the same by the help of Geometry, Arithmetick, Perspective, and Natural Philosophy, with most Infallible Demonstrations, but because of Arts some be Liberal, and some Mechanical, it shall not be amiss, to shew amongst which of them Painting ought to be numbred. {Painting is a liberal Art.} Now Pliny calleth it plainly a liberal Art, which authority of his may be proved by reason, for although the Painter cannot attain to his end, but by working both with his hand and pencil, yet there is so little pains and labour bestowed in this Exercise, that there is no Ingenious Man in the World, unto whose Nature it is not most agreeable, and infinitely pleasant.
For we read of the French King
Francis, the First of that name, that he oftentimes delighted to handle the pencil, by exercising, drawing and painting ; […], so that in these and the like Exercises, nothing is Base or Mechanical, but all Noble and Ingenious.
[…]. Farthermore it cannot be denied, but that the
Geometrician also worketh with the Hand, by drawing Lines, as Circles, Triangles, Quadrangles and such like Figures ; neither yet did ever any Man therefore account Geometry a Mechanical Art because the Hand-labour therein imployed is so sleight, that it were an absurdity in respect thereof, to reckon it a base condition.
The like reason is there of
painting, the Practice whereof, doth so little weary a Man, that he which was Noble before, cannot justly be reputed Base by exercising the same ; but if besides all this, we shall farther consider, that Painting is subordinate to the Perspectives, to Natural philosophy, and Geometry (all which out of question are Liberal Sciences) and moreover that it hath certain Demonstrable conclusions, deduced from the First and immediate Principalls thereof, we must needs conclude that it is a Liberal Art.


Conceptual field(s)

PEINTURE, TABLEAU, IMAGE → définition de la peinture
CONCEPTS ESTHETIQUES → nature, imitation et vrai


To know whether a Picture, or Drawing be of the Hand of such a Master, or After him One must be so well acquainted with the Hand of that Master as to be able to distinguish what is Genuine, from what is not so ; The Best Counterfeiter of Hands cannot do it so well as to deceive a good Connoisseur ; the Handling, the Colouring, the Drawing the Airs of Heads, Some, nay All of these discover the Author ; More, or Less Easily however as the Manner of the Master happens to be ; What is highly Finished (for Example) is more easily Imitated than what is Loose, and Free.
‘tis impossible for any one to transform himself imediatly, and become exactly Another Man ; a hand that has been always moving in a certain manner cannot at Once, or by a few Occasional Essays get into a different kind of motion, and be as Perfect at it as he that practices it continually : ‘tis the same in Colouring, and Drawing ; they are as impossible to be Counterfeited as the Handling : Every Man will Naturally, and Unavoidably mix Somthing of Himself in all he does if he Coppies with any degree of Liberty : If he attemps to follow his Original Servilely, and Exactly, That cannot but have a Stiffness which will easily distinguish what is So done from what is perform’d Naturaly, Easily, and without Restraint.
I have perhaps one of the greatest Curiosities of This kind that can be seen, because I have both the Coppy, and the Original ; both are of Great Masters, the Coppier was moreover the Disciple of him he endeavour’d to Imitate, and had Accustom’d himself to do so, for I have several Instances of it, which I am very certain of tho’ I have not seen the Originals.


term translated by IMITATEUR in RICHARDSON, Jonathan, Traité de la Peinture, Par Mr. Richardson, le Père, Tomes I. et II. Contenant, Tome I. Un Essai sur la Théorie de la Peinture ; Tome II. Un Essai sur l'art de critiquer, en fait de Peinture ; & un Discours sur la Sience d'un Connoisseur. Traduit de l'Anglois; Revu & Corrigé par l'Auteur., trad. par RUTGERS, Antoine, Amsterdam, Herman Uytwerf, 1728, 2 vol., vol. I., p. 99-100.

Conceptual field(s)

PEINTURE, TABLEAU, IMAGE → statut de l'oeuvre : copie, original...