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Karel van Mander and his Foundation of the Noble, Free Art of Painting

by Walter S. Melion

Walter S. Melion is the Asa Griggs Professor of Art History.

Written by the poet-painter Karel van Mander, who finished it in June 1603, the Grondt der edel, vry schilderconst (Foundation of the Noble, Free Art of Painting) was the first systematic treatise on schilderconst (the art of painting / picturing) to be published in Dutch (Haarlem: Paschier van Wes[t]busch, 1604). This English-language edition of the Grondt, accompanied by an introductory monograph and a full critical apparatus, provides unprecedented access to Van Mander’s crucially important art treatise. The book sheds light on key terms and critical categories such as schildermanieruyt zijn selven doenwelstandtleven and gheest, and wel schilderen, and both exemplifies and explicates the author’s distinctive views on the complementary forms and functions of history and landscape.

Karel van Mander and his Foundation of the Noble, Free Art of Painting is the recipient of the 2023 Roland H. Bainton Prize for Art History.

“From the rich and erudite introduction to the lively and eminently readable translation, this book — an invaluable resource for future scholarship — at last brings one of the key art-theoretical texts of the early modern Netherlands to a wider audience.” Marisa Bass, Yale University

“Walter Melion’s superlative translation of Karel van Mander’s Foundation of the Noble, Free Art of Painting is cause for celebration, bringing us at long last an authoritative English critical edition of this singularly influential text.” Celeste Brusati, University of Michigan