Editor’s Note:

Jean Charlot started writing his Art Book in 1932, according to the manuscript. He was using Notebook A, upside down and on the versos of pp. 18,658–18,640, in which he had written most of his essays in Mexico and his first essays in the United States on Eilshemius and Bouguereau.[1] The manuscript is done in his style of the time: an outline or the salient points are written on the facing verso of the previous page. Illustrations are included. He was basing his work on his “Traité de Peinture” of 1920 with additions in 1922, which he mentions in his facing notes and which is now posted on the web site of the Jean Charlot Foundation: jeancharlot.org. He apparently used also loose notes, posted on the same site as “Notes on the Theory of Art.” These are on a major theme of the treatise: point of view.

On the first page of the manuscript, Charlot has written: “Art Book (Sheed and Ward),” the publisher with whom Charlot was to work for many years. The complete introductory notes are:

Art Book (Sheed and Ward)
Use of art —
Physics of art —
treatise 1920
Plates —
geometric squeleton [sic] (black + gray)
translations — flags
colour composition
Cardinal Greco
Bache Vermeer
Chinese (maple tree)

In the manuscript, Charlot first wrote the section that begins “Inasmuch as a picture is a material thing,” page 18,658, and ends “the very same sheepish attitude that the Academic copyists, whom he fought, had towards drawing,” page 18,645. He then wrote the section that now begins the treatise: “Why don’t you paint…,” page 18,642, to “mere intellectual,” page 18,640. He writes “Preface” before this section. This latter section may have been written in 1934; on the second copy of a later typescript, Charlot wrote by hand “T. de Peinture 1934.”

Between 1934 and 1938 a twenty-two-page typescript was made, now in the Jean Charlot Collection. The typing was apparently done by someone else because Charlot’s manuscript was not always read correctly, mistaking, for instance, reality for railway, censorial for sensorial, line for lime, and pin for pane. Charlot made corrections and changes in pencil and pen-and-ink and made some illustrations.

At this time, Charlot probably wrote a concluding section, “Résumé,” in Notebook A, later tearing discontinuous pages from 18,644 to 18,639 out of the notebook. “Résumé” is unfinished, repeats material in the previous writing, and was left untyped until the 1970s. Charlot did, however, use the final section of “Résumé” as a basis for a short note, “Points of View,” which was typed but never published.

Charlot apparently never returned to his Art Book but used much of the material in his Pictures and Picture Making: A Series of Lectures, delivered at the Walt Disney Studios from April 12 to June 7, 1938. The transcript of the lectures was privately mimeographed by the studio. The lectures needed editing to turn them into a book, and the present sections of Art Book were too short to be more than chapters. Charlot may, therefore, have sent the publisher the transcript of the lectures along with the typescript of Art Book to give them an idea of the scope and intended style of the projected work.

Charlot’s materials for Art Book, described above, are presented in the following order:

  1. “Foreword,” from the typescript with several illustrations prepared for it. The other illustrations marked can be found in the appropriate locations of the manuscript.
  2. The manuscript from Notebook A.
  3. “Résumé,” typed from the manuscript.
  4. “Points of View,” from the typescript based on “Résumé.”

[ 1 ] Notebook A is a ledger for writing an original with two carbon copies. Thus each page number is given to three sheets.