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Lamy On Perspective

LAMY, Bernard. Traite Perspective, o't contenus les fondemens de la Peinture. Paris, Anisson, 1701.

4to., xxi, (1) pp., (1) f., 227, (1) pp., (4) ff., 8 numbered plates. Bound in contemporary speckled calf; spine gilt with raised bands and gilt title label; ownership inscription of A. Cinck on title page; three drops of wax on aij; light fingersoiling on occasional leaves, otherwise a fresh, bright copy.

$2,250

First edition of this handsomely illustrated perspective textbook. Traité de Perspective, the final work published during the lifetime of the controversial and prolific philosopher Bernard Lamy, is notable for its “interesting discussion of perception, etc.” – Kemp, p. 356. Lamy, whose interest in art stemmed from his work on geometry 25 years earlier, attempts to reconcile the idiosyncrasies of an artist’s eye with the theory of perspective. He joins in on the debate about the problems of binocular vision: “Lamy, like Sébastien Le Clerc, believed that in natural vision one eye is always dominant at any one instance, and that the painter’s one-eyed vision is therefore justified. In the Traité de Perspective, he states that ‘when our two eyes look at the plane of a painting the apex of the visual axes coincides with the surface in such a way as to eradicate the vagaries of binocular vision.’ (p. 46ff.) However, the eighteenth-century researchers showed that the problem would not go away as easily as Lamy had hoped.” – Kemp, p. 236.

Bernard Lamy (1640-1715), an ordained priest and professor of classics, wrote extensively on theology and philosophy as well as mathematics and mechanics. In 1676 Lamy was censured for teaching Cartesian philosophy at the College of Angers, and exiled by the order of the king. He lived in Grenoble for a time as a missionary, and then returned to France. After a brief period in Paris, trouble over a theological work in 1689 forced him to move to Rouen, were he authored a large number of books, including this Traité.


* Vagnetti EIVb1; Hollis AFO4519; NBG 29.294-8; Kemp, The Science of Art, pp. 158, 236.

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