Diderot on Art, Volume II


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The Salon of 1767

Diderot; Translated by John Goodman; Introduction by Thomas Crow

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The eighteenth-century French philosophe Denis Diderot—the principal intelligence behind the Encyclopédie and the author of idiosyncratic fictional works such as Jacques the Fatalist and Rameau's Nephew—was also 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 the most important of his art-critical texts available in English for the first time.

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 are here: the rhapsodic dream meditation inspired by Fragonard's Corésus and Callierhoé; 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. But these famous passages can now be considered in their proper context, surrounded by meditations that are less well known but equally sparkling. 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.

John Goodman is a freelance art historian and translator. Thomas Crow is professor of the history of art at the University of Sussex.

"These volumes constitute the first complete English translation of Diderot's most important pieces of art criticism and theory. . . . Goodman's translations will bring to a wider audience Diderot's views on the relationship between art and nature, reality, morality, eroticism, wealth and power, as well as his opinions on the nature of genius, taste and pictorial unity. Many will now be able to study such views in their full and proper context, rather than in brief extracts."—Linda Walsh, Art History

"Diderot's 'Salons' have been difficult to find in any language; this new elegant English version of two of the most famous, those for 1765 and 1767, edited and vividly translated by John Goodman, a specialist in the period, deserves our deep gratitude. Diderot on Art provides endless pleasure, ranging from scabrous anecdote to subtle and surprising philosophy."—Richard Wollheim, The New York Times Book Review

"An excellent English translation. . . . John Goodman has done a brilliant job in keeping the conversational tone, the wit, enthusiasm and integrity that Diderot brought to his reviews of these French Salon exhibitions. . . . Goodman's notes and Thomas Crow's enlightening introduction help to explain some of the more difficult topical references and give the social and cultural contextualisation necessary for today's reader. . . . A major contribution to eighteenth-century French cultural studies."—Helen Weston, Burlington Magazine

"Diderot's colloquial style, well rendered in English by John Goodman, makes for lively and sometimes hilarious reading. Each volume includes center-bound black-and-white reproductions of the artworks of which Diderot writes, cross-referenced with the pertinent essay. Yale University Press is to be commended for bringing more of Diderot's brilliant work to an English audience."—Lori D. Kranz, The Bloomsbury Review

"For the professional art historian, these contemporary reports have an obvious value. To the more general reader, they offer a glimpse of one of the most alert minds and attractive personalities of his age, all the closer to us because he does not feel the need to polish his style for the printer."—Robin Buss, The Independent on Sunday

"Ably and intelligently translated and annotated by John Goodman, with a thoughtful introduction by Thomas Crow . . . worth waiting for."—Karen Wilkin, The New Criterion

ISBN: 9780300062526
Publication Date: September 10, 1995
366 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
39 b/w illus.
Diderot on Art, Volume I

The Salon of 1765 and Notes on Painting

Diderot; Translated by John Goodman; Introduction by Thomas

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