Item #5355 Optique de portraiture et peinture, en deux parties…. PERSPECTIVE, Grégoire / HURET.
Optique de portraiture et peinture, en deux parties…
Optique de portraiture et peinture, en deux parties…
Optique de portraiture et peinture, en deux parties…
Optique de portraiture et peinture, en deux parties…
Optique de portraiture et peinture, en deux parties…
Optique de portraiture et peinture, en deux parties…
Optique de portraiture et peinture, en deux parties…
Very Rare French Perspective Treatise
With 10 Full-Page Engravings by its Author
Paris, Chez l’Auteur, 1670.

Optique de portraiture et peinture, en deux parties….

Folio [ 360 x 240mm]. 1 engraved frontispiece, 4 folding engravings, (7) ff., 58 pp., 1 engraved frontispiece, 59-159 pp., 4 folding engravings. With the ownership inscription of the painter Jan Anton van der Baren (1615-87). Bound in contemporary vellum over boards, title in ink on spine, blue edges. Covers with minor hand soiling and edge wear, very minor toning to a few leaves. A fresh and genuine copy.

Very rare first edition of the Royal Academician Grégoire Huret’s (1606-70) two-part treatise on the art of geometric perspective, illustrated with two engraved frontispieces and eight folding engravings designed and executed by the author himself. Part 1 is concerned with practical matters (la perspective pratique) and comprises 182 numbered sections. It begins with simple definitions (e.g., of the horizon line) before moving to more complex problems (the delineation of columns). Several sections are devoted to disputing points in the works of rival geometers. Huret, who succeeded Abraham Bosse at the Royal Academy in 1663, judges the solutions on perspective proposed by his predecessors—above all Bosse, but also Cousin, Barbaro, Marolois, Desargues, Dürer, and others—as inept, unworkable and even dangerous if implemented (cf. Baltrušaitis, p. 90). There follows a subsection devoted to the more painterly practical realities of perspectival constructions, such as shadows and atmospheric perspective.

Part 2 and its 188 sections treat theoretical matters (la perspective speculative), with Huret largely championing the experience of practicing artists and unwittingly supporting the advice of Barbaro, Niceron and other theoreticians whom he so vehemently disparaged earlier (Baltrušaitis, p. 92-93). “In portraying the bodies of man and animals, Huret grants ‘the liberty to the painter to draw them without any perspectival distortion on the picture plane, just as the eyes see them in life’. This is a plea for a flexible response to ‘natural vision’ and ‘judgement by eye’ in portraying complex forms and scenes” (Kemp, p. 125).

The two engraved frontispieces of the Optique de portraiture et peinture depict a perfectly rendered baroque interior and Athena studying a book on perspective under the illuminating rays of the sun. In the eight folding plates, Huret not only delineates the geometrical armature required to work up correct perspectival constructions, but also shows the end products of these preliminary tasks, with the artist offering completed engravings of a landscape, of architectural interiors and exteriors, of a still life bathed in the sunlight of an adjacent window, and of portraits. Especially interesting are Huret’s anmorphosis portrait heads.

The present copy carries the ownership inscription of the painter Jan Anton van der Baren (1615-87), who became the director of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm’s picture gallery; 14 of his canvases have been traced. Of bibliographical note are the some 50 neatly penned corrections to typographical errors and infelicities in grammar found throughout the volume: a copy of this work held in the Bibliothèque National de France carries the exact same corrections in the same hand, perhaps that of the author, suggesting that these ink corrections to the first edition were made in lieu of a printed errata leaf.

OCLC lists only one copy of this 1670 first edition in the U.S. (the Huntington Library); we have located another copy at the Metropolitan Museum. The 1672 second  edition also published by the author,  is of equal rarity, with OCLC locating two U.S. copies (the Winterthur Museum and the University of Chicago): we also located one copy of the 1678  third edition, also Paris, by the author, at the NGA.

* Vagnetti, E III b 62; Kristi Anderson, The Geometry of an Art, pp. 465-66; Jurgis Baltrušaitis, Anamorfosi, o Thaumaturgus opticus (2nd ed., 1990), pp. 90-94; Martin Kemp, The Science of Art (1990), p. 125.

Price: $7,850.00

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