Diderot on Art  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Diderot on Art (1995) is a book on Denis Diderot's art criticism edited and translated by John Goodman.

From the publisher:

The 18th-century French philosopher Denis Diderot - the principal intelligence behind the "Encyclopedie" and the author of idiosyncratic fictional works such as "Jacques the Fatalist" and "Rameau's Nephew" - is also considered by many to have been the first great art critic. Until now, however, Diderot's treatises on the visual arts have been available only in French. This two-volume edition makes his art-critical texts available in English. Diderot's works are among the most provocative and engaging products of the French Enlightenment. Moreover, their ruminations on many issues of perennial interest (invention versus convention, nature versus culture, and technique versus imagination; the complex relations) between economic reality and artistic achievement give them a rare pertinence to current debates on the nature and function of representation. All the celebrated pieces included: the rhapsodic dream meditation inspired by Fragonard's "Coresus and Callierhoe"; the incident packed "excursion" through a set of landscapes by Joseph Vernet; the evocative consideration of the nature of ruins and historical nostalgia prompted by the first showing of works by Hubert Robert. These famous passages are considered in their proper context. The book also includes brief introductory texts and annotations by John Goodman that clarify the many references to contemporary Parisian culture, as well as an introduction by Thomas Crow that sets the texts in their historical and art-historical context.

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