London: Printed for Samuel Crouch, at the Corner Shop of Pope's Head Ally, on the right, 1676.
London: Printed for Samuel Crouch at the Corner Shop of Pope's Head Ally, 1676.
First Edition. Octavo (5 1/2 x 3 1/4 inches; 89 x 140 mm), collates: , 82,  pages: missing the initial license leaf (A1), otherwise complete. With 4 appearances in the modern auction record and ESTC listing only 5 copies at institutions worldwide, this is truly a rare piece.
Early marbled sheepskin binding, subtle repairs to the spine. Bookplate of the Fox Pointe Collection on the front pastedown; early ownership signatures to the front endpaper. Internally a neat and pleasing copy, with some offsetting to preliminary and rear pages; overall text block is clean and tight.
"John Smith's The Art of Painting may perhaps lay claim to being the first painting manual in the English language" (Baty). A clockmaker by trade, Smith's book was designed in particular to assist in the decoration of clock and sundial faces. It also includes an important section on the restoration of oil paintings. Focused on the application of oil paints in a variety of circumstances, Smith also informs the reader that these "Oyl Colours [function] not only on SunDials but also all manner of Timber Work, whether Posts, Pales, Pallisadoes, Gates, Doors, Windows, Wainscotting, Border Boards for gardens or whatever else." Thus, the appeal of Smith's book was that it provided details on the creation of paint and paint colors to a wide variety of artisans, whose work needed to survive use and the elements.
Smith's work was written to assist other makers of sundials in painting the faces of their devices. He describes grinding colors with oil, the tools of painting, gold leafing, recommends color choices, gives recipes for glue, provides a reading list "for him that would be a Compleat Dialist," describes how to paint sun dials, painting interiors ("wainscot, doors, windows, posts, rayles, pales, gates, and the like), and makes suggestions with an eye to the preservation painted surfaces "to resist weather, and preserve Timber or woodden works from rotting."