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This is a terrific text for anyone wanting to learn the intricacies of the art of painting, many of them so long forgotten. The Author/ Painter is extremely well read and has a good understanding of his craft but not to the point that he forces one style or another upon the student. As far as treatises on painting goes, this is by far one of my favourites to date.
The author also has an extensive grasp on the different schools of the day (early 1800's) as well as of the early masters and brings good insight into the strengths and weaknesses of each school. He often cites Sir Joshua Reynolds and some of his discourses, which are wonderfully articulate and also contain a mass of knowledge on painting that seems to be very hard to come by these days and are well catered to the need and understanding of the student mind.
The one difficulty that I would express about this text would be the same for most free E-books, but it is rather hard to navigate, and because of its size (and interesting organization) it becomes even worse. If better organized, the book would make a great reference for the casual studier. Being that it is not "better organized," I would suggest reading it online in each of the separate parts opened in three different tabs, and using the links from the contents page to help your navigation. This way it can be used functionally as a reference. This being said, its a good downloadable read as well, especially if you have an e-reader and a full read through would make a strong foundation for any student wanting to learn the art of painting.