Jacques Maritain’s early secular aesthetic theories have been interpreted too hastily. The goal of this study is to offer a more accurate reading of them than has been formulated previously. It is also to appraise them, as regards their merits as explanations of concrete phenomena—this has not been done before. In order to achieve these aims, Maritain’s principal early work on aesthetics Art et scolastique will be analysed at length, herein. The problematic methods by means of which the scholarly tradition has interpreted this book will be examined, and their influence on its reception will be assessed. Maritain’s elementary philosophy will be described, insofar as it is related to his early aesthetics. A sketch of Art et scolastique will be drawn, in order to clarify the various purposes to which Maritain puts its disparate sections. This is necessary, if confusion is to be avoided. Maritain’s new early secular aesthetic theories will then be identified, and evaluated. Special attention will be paid to his early theory of mimesis, which is quite ingenious. It will be shown that his new early secular aesthetic theories are far more original and far more penetrating than they have been represented to be, even by those scholars who are most under Maritain’s spell. As a result, it will be seen that these theories deserve much closer consideration than they have so far received.