In Absorption and Theatricality, Michael Fried adopts a distinction which, as he acknowledges, is initially surprising. On Denis Diderot’s conception of painting, which Fried understands not only to serve as a commentary on the painting of his time, but also to formulate a normative aesthetic ideal, two different approaches can be distinguished which appear, on the face of it, to negate one another. On the one hand, we find a dramatic conception of painting; on the other hand, a pastoral idea, the latter of which, as Fried phrases it, “goes against almost everything” (AT 118) that characterizes the former.