What is a summary for "Of Beauty," written by Francis Bacon?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Francis Bacon's essay "Of Beauty" is one essay in his collection denoted by the title Essayes: Religious Meditations. Places of Perswasion and Disswasion. Seene and Allowed. The collection, from 1597, included ten essays. The 1612 edition included thirty-eight essays and the 1625 collection (the title was changed to Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall) contained fifty-eight essays. The essay in question, "Of Beauty," appeared in the 1612 edition of Bacon's collected essays.

"On Beauty" is an essay which details the importance of virtue in deciding the beauty of something (being a person or a piece of art). Bacon states that,

There is no excellent beauty, that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.

What Bacon is saying basically mirrors the saying: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Bacon is supporting the fact that not all can find beauty in the same things.

Outside of that, Bacon makes another poignant stand:

A man shall see faces, that if you examine them part by part, you shall find never a good; and yet altogether do well.

What Bacon is saying, here, is that sometimes examining the pieces of something will not be beautiful. It takes one examining the whole to find the beauty in the object.

Overall, the essay details what one should search for, and use to determine, in real beauty. Bacon is offering his suggestion, in the essay, what real beauty includes.

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gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Francis Bacon describes his thoughts on virtue and beauty throughout his essay "Of Beauty." Bacon begins by mentioning that virtue is a quality rarely found in attractive people. However, Bacon then lists several famously beautiful and virtuous individuals throughout history, such as Augustus Caesar, Titus Vespasianus, and Alcibiades of Athens. Bacon believes that in regards to beauty, features such as virtue and integrity are more important than outward appearances. He then comments on how pictures cannot express an attractive person's inner qualities. People cannot tell whether someone is a "trifler" by simply looking at them, and painters have the freedom to add to the beauty of their subjects which makes it even harder to discern a person's actual merit. Francis Bacon concludes by commenting that people become more beautiful later on in life as they develop into more amiable individuals. He believes that young, attractive people can easily be corrupted, which ruins their beauty. However, the quality of virtue in an attractive young person shines brightly and is truly magnificent.