3Back 5Start Page

A portrait of Christiaan Huygens?
Etablissement de l'Académie des Sciences et fondation de l'observatoire.1666

While looking for information on Christiaan Huygens on the internet early nov 2003, I stumbled upon a painting which represents the presentation of the Académie des Sciences to Louis XIV by Colbert. I thought it reasonable to assume that Huygens' portrait would be present in the picture, as he was one of the founding members as well as the one with the highest salary (untill the arrival of Cassini). From the RMN and the Joconda internet databases I obtained some better quality images.

The list of the persons on the painting, as mentioned in both databases was limited to (obviously) Louis XIV (seated), Jean-Baptiste Colbert (standing in black, left of Louis XIV), Jean Dominique Cassini (in the middle of the left part, right under the armillary sphere), abbé Edme Mariotte, abbé Jean Picard, Pierre de Carcavy, Marin Cureau de La Chambre and Jean-Baptiste Duhamel (location?). Also, to my surprise and almost surely erroneously, the name of Constantijn Huygens was mentioned. But Christiaan was not mentioned at allK.
I then contacted the Musée National du Château et des Trianons in Versailles in dec 2003. After a few days I received a response: there was a list of names of the persons in the picture, but there was no sure identification of the names with the persons, (apart from the obvious ones). It still had to be researched. A subsequent request from my side for a copy that list of names was left unanswered.
The Gallica website of the BNF provided me with the texts of the memoires from the early day's of the Académie des Sciences, a list of the founding members and the text of a diary of Ch Perrault.
On April 14, 2004 I was given the opportunity to deliver a short presentation about the portrait during the Huygens conference in Noordwijk. Afterwards I contacted the Versailles museum again and suggested to see someone of the staff during my stay in Paris in July. So on Tuesday 27 of July, I was cordially received by Mme Dubois, given access to the dossier on the painting and had my first encounter with the painting.
Started: feb 28, 2004
Last Update: dec 18, 2004