This half-length engraved portrait of Jean LeRond d’Alembert (1717-1783) shows this French mathematician and philosophe sitting with quill pen in one hand and dividers in the other. Papers, books, and other drawing instruments are strewn across the desk in front of him, and more books, a rolled chart, and a globe sit on the cabinet behind. The text at bottom reads: “Dessiné par M. R. Jollain, Peintre du Roi, et Gravé par B. L. Henriquez, Graveur de S. M. I. de / toutes les Russies, et de l’Academie Imperiale des Beaux Arts de St. Petersbourg.”
This image was published in Paris in 1777, along with similar portraits of Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Diderot, the other principal authors of the Encyclopédie. The prints were commissioned by Charles-Joseph Panckoucke, the Paris bookman who was then producing a Supplément to the Encyclopédie. They sold for three francs each. Nicholas-René Jollain was an artist in Paris. Benoît-Louis Henriquez was an engraver in Paris.
Ref: Thomas L. Hankins, Jean d’Alembert. Science and the Enlightenment (Oxford, 1970).
George B. Watts, “The Supplément and the Table Analytique et Rainsonée of the Encyclopédie,” The French Review 28 (1954): 4-19, on 16.
National Museum of American History