Tours, A. Vauquer 1779.
Contemporary gilt-ruled red morocco, flat spine gilt, dark green endleaves, all edges gilt.
First Edition, composed expressly for the leisured class wishing to take up painting on their annual country holiday. An accomplished goldsmith known for his skillful painting restoration, Dutens lays out the basics of drawing adults and children, of human anatomy, of osteology and myology, of clothing, of landscape, of perspective and of light and shadow before moving to color and color harmony, the placement and arrangement of figures and finally a chapter on facial expression. Making no claim to originality, he openly names his sources, which he encourages the reader to consult as opportunity allows, but whose fundamentals are arranged here for their convenience in compact format.
Dutens suggests having to hand an articulated mannequin to aid in figure modeling and a modest portfolio of select prints to train the eye and serve as patterns. The longest section is on color. He treats miniatures on vellum and ivory, pastels on paper and lastly oil on canvas. He describes the preparation and application of ground and the layering of paint. Among the many tricks he shares is that for rendering objects reflected in water. He includes a short passage on intaglio color printing (p. 62) and devotes considerable space to a review of the techniques, styles and hallmarks of various artists.
The year following publication, the author, a native of Tours, inscribed this copy to Étienne-Jacques-Christophe Benoist de La Grandière (1733-1805), the city’s mayor, who was then embarking on a major transformation of the municipality. The title bears the manuscript presentation. In good condition.
¶Massing, “Painting Materials and Techniques: Towards a Bibliography of the French Literature before 1800” in Die Kunst und ihre Erhaltung, Rolf E. Straub zum 70. Geburstag gewidmet (1990) 52; not in Faber Birren.