A selection of writings from the venerable, and too often, unexplored, history of paintings, some theoretical on the ""spirit"" of the art, some technical by artists themselves revealing the rules they used in creating, and some just plain appreciative --short, effulgent recognitions of the metaphysical power of visualized beauty. The birth of painting in the prehistoric caves of Lascaux (a fine tribute to the creation of ""art"" for its own sake by Georges Bataille); the Greek and Roman writers on art as imitation of the real; the mystical, religious painting of the Middle Ages with all the necessary rules and invocations of the Virgin (Theophilus on Byzantine, Cennini on Giotto's art); the inquiring scientific spirit of the Renaissance dedicated to nature and man as they are Alberti, da Vinci, Francisco de Hollanda's talks with Michelangelo ---- as different as these views are from one another, they are all revealing of their time and all dedicated to the miracle of creativity and technique that gives painting its high place in the artistic obsession with truth (so Jacques Charpier explains it in his Foreword). The selections are equally notable for their literary merit, the charm and delight these writers and artists found and expressed in their works. Especially fine are the excerpts on medieval and Renaissance technique that read like a primer in pictorial alchemy. For historians, artists, and also for spectators interested in the man and the spirit behind the masterpiece.