Bibliography and Further Reading

In these texts, Diderot reviews several Salons he attended for a Literary Newsletter. He provides descriptions and critics of some of the works of art exposed.

 Throughout these exhaustive reviews of artworks from painters of his time, Diderot assesses the success of the artists to convey the ideals of beauty. This text gives us an idea of how a philosopher would judge an artwork and how he would apply principles of aesthetics to determine whether the painting is beautiful or not. It also include some reflection from Diderot on the role of the Artist and the nature of Taste.

This source is particularly useful as it allows to take a direct look at an example of a confrontation between the philosopher and the artist and the way theories of aesthetics apply to the practice. Diderot also highlights the importance of Technique in the rendering of beauty as well as the idea of Art as didactic and the artist as an important figure in the social and political sphere--two lines of thought that will prevail throughout my Salon.

France, 1974. Print.

Chouillet’s L’Esthétique des Lumières [The Aesthetics of Enlightenment] is a comprehensive and thorough overview of the changes and revolutions that occurred within the realm of Aesthetics during the Enlightenment era. 


First, it explores the metaphysical aspect of Beauty (“Les metaphysiques du Beau”) and the struggle for philosophers to come up with a universal definition and explanation of Beauty. Then, Chouillet investigates how Aesthetics proceeded to promote the Technique as a possible origin of Beauty (“Promotion du Technique”). Finally, Chouillet examines the limits experienced by philosophers when confronted with the concepts of Genuis and Originality that may contradict the idea of a Science of the Beautiful.


This text can be used as a reference. It gives an overall but thorough understanding of the figures and theories that marked the Enlightenment as well as the main thematics they explored and the questions they sought to answer.

This article is a commentary on Boucher’s portrait of Madame de Pompapdour in which Hyde proceeds to explain how the painting is emblematic of the Rococo aesthetic. The article also investigates the criticism of Rococo as well as the question of gender by showing how Rococo style came to be devaluated as “feminine” while Neo-classicism represented the ideals of masculinity. 

This article assesses the characteristics of the Rococo style and contrast them with Neo-classicism while connecting both artistic movements to the social, historical, and political context of their time.

This article focuses on the influence of Hogarth’s 1753 treatise The Analysis of the Beautiful on Diderot’s philosophy of Aesthetics, specifically the idea that knowledge about the artistic practice and technique is necessary to the understanding of beauty and taste. 

Diderot’s and Hogarth’s theories that the theory of aesthetic and beauty cannot successfully operate unless it takes into consideration how the artist functions and inspect the technique to understand the whole is directly correlated to the main question at stake in my Salon: the relationship and the possible dialog between the artist and the philosopher.

This article can be interpreted as a possible response to the question of the confrontation between theory and practice. Diderot’s thinking about art is an example of a philosopher who seek to connect with the artist rather than only think abstractly about beauty.

In his book, Starobinski establishes the connections between the French revolution and the aesthetics of Neo-classicism. He investigates the dynamics of the revolution and their metaphorical and emblematic artistic representations.

This text explores in great depth how the Rationalism of the Enlightenment lead to the violence and outburst of passion characteristic of the French revolution as well as the role the artists played in this transition and how their works promoted and reflected this shift in the attitudes and convictions of the enlightened masses.

Starobinksy provides exhaustive explanation and analyses about the correlation and dynamics between the saturated political environment that preceded the revolution and the aesthetics of Neo-classicism as well as clues about how to read the symbolism and metaphors of other paintings of the time.

Benhamou, Reed, “Diderot et l’Enseignement de Jacques Louis David.” Recherches sur Diderot et sur l’Encyclopédie. 22. (1997): 71-86.

This article (“Diderot and the Teaching of Jacques Louis David) explore a possible relation between the philosopher Diderot and the painter Jacques-Louis David and the influence Diderot had on the artistic development and technique of the painter. It reflects on how David’s language of instruction is similar to Diderot’s ideal art academy and how these similarities in the themes and expression both figure used suggests that David’s art is a reflection and application of Diderot’s principles of aesthetics.


This text investigates how a philosophy and aesthetic theory was put into practice by an artist. It is an example of a possible communication between the artist and the philosopher.

Holt, David K. "Diderot and the Aesthetic Point of View," Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 34, No. 1 (Spring, 2000), pp. 19-25.

Bibliography and Further Reading