Its title page is very precise as to its aim and the potential benefits for the reader:
The first edition sold out.
- exemplified in a series of instructions
- calculated to faciliate the progress of the learner
- including the elements of perspective, their application in drawing from nature and the explanation of the various processes of colouring, for producing from the sketch the finished picture
- with observations on the study of nature
- and various other matters relative from the arts
This second edition was published by Thomas Davison, Whitefriars in London in 1823 - and subsequently found its way into the New York Public Library system
The language is obviously somewhat stilted to that which we are used to today. However for those who are prepared to put in the effort to reading this book you'll find it long on explanation and that it includes images to help explain the instruction. All in all quite a contrast to the art instruction book of today. This is one for those who prefer their art instruction books to not be dumbed down!
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This book has been digitized by Google and is now available to download as PDF or EPUB files - for FREE! Alternatively you can read it online.
The contents page is displayed on the right. I like the titles of some of his chapters such as "Accidents in Painting" and "Licences in Drawing". I've only dipped into it so far but it looks very interesting. It includes for example a detailed explanation of how of how to use a Claude mirror ('the blackened convex mirror') on page 21 and 22.
The contents page in Google Books includes hyperlinks to the different sections.
I also found it interesting how many references are included to landscape painters from the past. It gives you an insight into the thinking behind landscape drawing and painting at the time as well as useful tips on 'how to'. His language (starting on page 33) when he doubts the advice of Sir Joshua Reynolds on drawing vs painting and quotes Michael Angelo (sic) in support of his view had me grinning from ear to ear!
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Sir Francis Nicholson
I tried to find out a little bit about the author Francis Nicholson and concluded that he was in all probability Sir Francis Nicholson (14 November 1753 – 6 March 1844) who was a Yorkshire born landscape painter who worked in both watercolours and oils but grew to focus on landscapes in watercolour.
He was also a founding member of the Society of Painters in Water Colours now known as the Royal Watercolour Society. It's not every day that you get to read a book by a leading member of such an august body!