Les Beaux-Arts réduits à un même principe  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Les Beaux-Arts réduits à un même principe[1] (1746, English: "The Fine Arts Reduced to a Single Principle") is a treatise by Charles Batteux, an attempt to find a unity among the various theories of beauty and taste.

Batteux's theory, influenced by John Locke through Voltaire's sceptical sensualism, held that the fine arts are arts ("assemblages of rules for doing well"), for producing fine or beautiful things ("which please" of themselves), always "in imitation of la belle nature" and requiring genius.

Diderot criticized the treatise in his "Letter on the Deaf and Dumb" and in his article "Beau" in the Encyclopédie, underlining that Charles Batteux "ne nous apprend point ce que c'est que la belle nature" (hardly shows us what he means by 'belle nature').

Full text[2]

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