This translation uses the text of the original 1753 edition. It also includes additions made by Laugier for the edition of 1755 as well as the Avertissement for that edition, which contains Laugier's rebuttal to his critics. An introduction by Wolfgang Herrmann gives details of Laugier's life and the context in which this book was written. The Essai is important as a key document in 18th century art theory. It is invaluable for a thorough understanding of the Neoclassical aesthetic and its development from the rationalism of the Enlightenment.