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A learned artisan debates the system of the world: Le Clerc versus Mallemant de Messange


Sébastien Le Clerc (1637–1714) was the most renowned engraver of Louis XIV's France. For the history of scientific publishing, however, Le Clerc represents a telling paradox. Even though he followed a traditional route based on classic artisanal training, he also published extensively on scientific topics such as cosmology and mathematics. While contemporary scholarship usually stresses the importance of artisanal writing as a direct expression of artisanal experience and know-how, Le Clerc's publications, and specifically the work on cosmology in his Système du monde (1706–1708), go far beyond this. By reconstructing the debate between Le Clerc and the professor Mallemant de Messange on the authorship of this ‘system of the world’, this article argues that Le Clerc's involvement in publishing ventures shaped his identity both as an artisan and as a scientific author. Whereas the Scientific Revolution supposedly heralded a change from the world of ‘more or less’ to the ‘world of precision’, this article shows how an artisan could be more ‘precise’ than the learned scholar whose claims he disputed, and points to the importance of the literary field as a useful lens for observing the careers of early modern scientific practitioners.

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1 de Messange, Claude Mallemant, Discours de Monsieur de Messange sur trois articles du Journal de Trévoux …, Paris, 1705, 1213 , 15–18.

2 Hall, R., ‘The scholar and the craftsman in the scientific revolution’, in Clagett, M. (ed.), Critical Problems in the History of Science, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1962, pp. 323 , 21.

3 Smith, Pamela H., The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004 ; Long, Pamela O., Artisan/Practitioners and the Rise of the New Sciences, 1400–1600, Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2011 ; , Long, ‘Trading zones in early modern Europe’, Isis (2015) 106, pp. 840847 . Erwin Panofsky pointed in a classic essay to the introduction during the Renaissance of ‘transmission belts, not only between but also within the manual and intellectual spheres. We can observe the formation of groups and friendships conducive to cross-fertilization between all kinds of people, including the much-maligned humanists; on the other hand, we can observe a combination of many interests in one and the same person’. Panofsky, Erwin, ‘Artist, scientist, genius: notes on the Renaissance-dämmerung’, in Panofsky, The Renaissance: Six Essays, New York: Harper & Row, 1962, pp. 123182 , 138.

4 See Ash, Eric H., ‘Introduction: expertise and the early modern state’, Osiris, second series (2010) 25, pp. 124 ; as well as Klein, Ursula, ‘Artisanal–scientific experts in eighteenth-century France and Germany’, Annals of Science (2012) 69, pp. 303306  – the articles both introduce the arguments and further references; Bertucci, Paola and Courcelle, Olivier, ‘Artisanal knowledge, expertise, and patronage in early eighteenth-century Paris: the Société des arts (1728–36)’, Eighteenth-Century Studies (2015) 48, pp. 159179 .

5 Following the hypotheses in Rabinovitch, Oded, ‘Chameleons between science and literature: observation, writing, and the early Parisian academy of sciences in the literary field’, History of Science (2013) 51, pp. 3362 .

6 In fact, Pamela Long has recently argued that there is a great need for works on artisanal reading and writing practices: Long, ‘Trading Zones’, op. cit. (3), p. 846.

7 Roberts, Lissa and Schaffer, Simon, ‘Preface’, in Roberts, Lissa, Schaffer, Simon and Dear, Peter (eds.), The Mindful Hand: Inquiry and Invention from the Late Renaissance to Early Industrialisation, Amsterdam: Koninkliijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, 2007, xiiixxvii .

8 Other categories of objects, such as instruments, can lead to different conclusions: Bennett, J.A., ‘The mechanics’ philosophy and the mechanical philosophy’, History of Science (1986) 24, pp. 128 ; Jean-François Gauvin, ‘Habits of knowledge: artisans, savants, and mechanical devices in seventeenth-century French natural philosophy’, PhD dissertation, Harvard University, 2008. Other forms of writing could also be important in this world: the painter Charles Le Brun came from a family of writing teachers who also designed letters. Gady, Bénédicte, L'ascension de Charles Le Brun: Liens sociaux et production artistique, Paris: Edition de la Maison des sciences de l'homme, 2010, pp. 1623 .

9 While they are strongly associated with Descartes's cosmology, vortices became a common mechanism for explaining the motions of the heavens after the overthrow of the Aristotelian divide between the sub-lunar and supra-lunar world in the early seventeenth century. Le Clerc and Mallemant should not therefore be immediately seen as ‘Cartesians’ (and see below for Mallemant's debates with self-proclaimed Cartesians). See Aiton, E.J., The Vortex Theory of Planetary Motions, London: Macdonald, 1972 .

10 Journal de Trévoux, April 1704, article lviii, pp. 644–647.

11 Journal de Trévoux, April 1705, article lxv, pp. 663–665. Le Clerc dated Galileo's publication to 7 January 1610; this was the date of Galileo's first letter recounting his telescopic discoveries. Drake, Stillman, ‘Galileo's first telescopic observations’, Journal for the History of Astronomy (1976) 7, pp. 153168 . Sidereus nuncius was published in March 1610.

12 Journal de Trévoux, July 1705, article cxvi, pp. 1253–1256.

13 Le Clerc, Sébastien, Nouveau système du monde, conforme à l’écriture sainte: Où les phenomenes sont expliquez sans excentricité de mouvement, Paris: P. Emery, 1708 ; first published Paris: Pierre Giffart, 1706. I shall be quoting from the 1708 edition. For bibliographical reasons, it seems that Le Clerc added considerable material against Mallemant after composing an initial version of his system.

14 Heilbron, J.L., The Sun in the Church: Cathedrals as Solar Observatories, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999 , p. 115.

15 Modern scholars have pointed out that even in Copernicus's system, the Sun does not occupy the exact centre of the world. This nuance was lost, however, on Le Clerc and Mallemant, as well as on seventeenth-century compilers of systems on which they relied. Compare Kuhn, Thomas S., The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957, pp. 170171 ; or Westman, Robert S., ‘Proof, poetics and patronage: Copernicus's preface to De revolutionibus ’, in Lindberg, David C. and Westman, Robert S. (eds.), Reappraisals of the Scientific Revolution, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990, pp. 167205 , 170; with Gadrois, Claude, Le systeme du monde selon les trois hypotheses, Paris: Guillaume Desprez, 1675, p. 86. Even a sophisticated astronomer like Riccioli began his descriptions of the Copernican system by claiming that the Sun is in its centre. Riccioli, Giovanni Battista, Almagestum Novum …, Bologna: Benacci, 1651, p. 102: ‘Copernicus itaq. in centro Universi Solem ponit immobilem’.

16 For this somewhat forced explanation see Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 120–129, and 62–65 for a putative refutation of Copernicus.

17 Blair, Ann, ‘Mosaic physics and the search for a pious natural philosophy in the late Renaissance’, Isis (2000) 91, pp. 3258 .

18 de Messange, Claude Mallemant, L'Ouvrage de la creation, traitté physique du monde, nouveau systheme de ceux des anciens & des nouveaux Philosophes, Paris: La veuve de Claude Thiboust et Pierre Esclassan, 1679, pp. 1719 .

19 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), preface, pp. 1–5, 20–21.

20 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), p. 3.

21 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 1–7, 175–183, quotes at 2, 7.

22 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 183–188, quote at 187–188. Candles were used by artists to illustrate the use of perspective as a light source internal to the image, and Le Clerc discussed elsewhere the passage of light through globules and its impact on the perception of colour. Bosse, Abraham, Moyen universel de pratiquer la perspective sur les tableaux …, Paris : A. Bosse, 1653 , Figure 15 (between pp. 54 and 55); Bosse, Traité des pratiques géometrales et perspectives enseignées dans l'Académie royale de la peinture et sculpture, Paris: A. Bosse, 1665 , Figure 39 (between pp. 88 and 89); Le Clerc, Sébastien, Système de la vision fondée sur de nouveaux principes, Paris: F. Delaulne, 1712, pp. 7983 .

23 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 8–12.

24 Schaffer, Simon, ‘A science whose business is bursting: soap bubbles as commodities in classical physics’, in Daston, Lorraine (ed.), Things That Talk: Object Lessons from Art and Science, New York: Zone Books, 2004, pp. 147192 , 158.

25 Quoted in Birch, Thomas, History of the Royal Society of London, 4 vols., London: A. Millar, 1756–1757, vol. 3, p. 29.

26 Newton, Isaac, Opticks, New York: Dover, 1952, pp. 214220 .

27 Meli, Domenico Bertoloni, Thinking with Objects: The Transformation of Mechanics in the Seventeenth Century, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006 .

28 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), unpaginated appendix, based on Mallemant, op. cit. (18), pp. 216–223.

29 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 189–200.

30 Doherty, Meghan C., the, ‘Discoveringtrue form”: Hooke's Micrographia and the visual vocabulary of engraved portraits’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society (2012) 66, pp. 211234 ; , Doherty, ‘Giving light to narrative: the use of images in early modern journals’, Nuncius (2015) 30, pp. 543569 .

31 Wallis, Patrick, ‘Review of Pamela O. Long, Artisan/Practitioners and the Rise of the New Sciences, 1400–1600 ’, Renaissance Quarterly (2012) 65, pp. 915916 , 916. For a general statement see Farr, James R., Artisans in Europe, 1300–1914, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, p. 135.

32 ‘It [the book of nature] is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures’: Galilei, Galileo, ‘The Assayer’, in Drake, Stillman and O'Malley, C.D., The Controversy on the Comments of 1618, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1960, p. 184. However, even against the backdrop of such a statement, Galileo was interested in quantitative standards of precision measurement from a very early phase of his career. Bertoloni Meli, op. cit. (27), pp. 50–51.

33 Turnbull, H.W. et al. (eds.), The Correspondence of Isaac Newton, 7 vols., Cambridge: Published for the Royal Society at the University Press, 1959–1977, vol. 2, pp. 297298 , 301.

34 I follow the terms both authors used, even though they are not completely technically accurate, relating as they are to a geocentric situation.

35 [Claude Mallemant de Messange], Nouveau systheme du monde, s.l., s.d. (1679), pp. 17–18; Mallemant, op. cit. (18), pp. 216–217. Koyré, Alexandre, ‘The significance of the Newtonian synthesis’, in Koyré, Newtonian Studies, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1965, pp. 324 , 4–5.

36 On the movement of the Sun see Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 25–27.

37 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 94–95, 194–195.

38 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 106–110. Le Clerc claimed the most qualified contemporary astronomers found that the greatest distance between the Earth and the Sun is 11,187 diameters of the Earth, and the shortest distance is 10,813.

39 [Mallemant], op. cit. (35), p. 12.

40 Kuhn, op. cit. (15), p. 270; Heilbron, op. cit. (14), pp. 162–163.

41 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 54–57. The observed value for precession during the late seventeenth century was 50″, though the calculations for obtaining this value could be quite complex. Richard S. Westfall, ‘Newton and the fudge factor’, Science (23 February 1973) 179, pp. 751–758, esp. 756.

42 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), p. 19. Le Clerc returns to this claim several times, e.g. at 141–148.

43 Philip Benedict, ‘The owl of Minerva at dusk: Philippe Le Noir de Crevain, a pastor–historian under Louis XIV’, in Benedict, The Faith and Fortunes of France's Huguenots, 1600–85, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001, pp. 248–276, 257–258.

44 [Mallemant], op. cit. (35), pp. 42–43; Mallemant, op. cit. (18), pp. 251–252.

45 Mallemant, op. cit. (18), preface, n.p.

46 By making the fixed stars into planets revolving around their own vortices, the size of the universe could be reduced, thereby removing an objection to the Copernican system – thus argues [Alexandre Tinelis, Sieur de Castelet], Lettre de Monsieur de Castelet à Monsieur Mallement de Messange, sur les deux nouveaux Systhémes qu'ils ont inventez, s.l, s.d. (1679), pp. 3–5. At issue was the argument against the Copernican system based on the inability to measure the parallax of the fixed stars: Schofield, Christine Jones, Tychonic and Semi-Tychonic World Systems, New York: Arno Press, 1981, pp. 190201 ; Helden, Albert Van, Measuring the Universe: Cosmic Dimension from Aristarchus to Halley, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1985, pp. 4953 , 62–63, 73–76, 87–90, 116, 157–159.

47 [Mallemant], op. cit. (35), p. 23; Mallemant, op. cit. (18), p. 223.

48 Recueil d'observations faites en plusieurs voyages par ordre de Sa Majesté …, Paris: Imprimerie royale, 1693. On the expeditions see Dew, Nicholas, ‘ Vers la ligne: circulating measurements around the French Atlantic’, in Delbourgo, James and Dew, Nicholas (eds.), Science and Empire in the Atlantic World, New York: Routledge, 2008, pp. 5372 ; and , Dew, ‘Scientific travel in the Atlantic world: the French expedition to Gorée and the Antilles, 1681–1683’, BJHS (2010) 43, pp. 117 .

49 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 68–70.

50 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 80–81.

51 For Mallemant see Mallemant, op. cit. (18), p. 223 (parallax), 144–145, 221 (refraction).

52 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 111–115. Le Clerc did not refer in this context to the greater thickness of the atmosphere when observing objects closer to the horizon.

53 Dew, ‘Vers la ligne’, op. cit. (48), pp. 62–63.

54 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 183–188.

55 Discussion of the passage of a star in Aquarius, Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 78–79.

56 Heilbron, op. cit. (14), p. 98.

57 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 34–39, quote at 36.

58 More broadly see Buchwald, Jed Z., ‘Discrepant measurements and experimental knowledge in the early modern era’, Archive for History of Exact Sciences (2006) 60, pp. 565649 .

59 Jouhaud, Christian, Les pouvoirs de la littérature: Histoire d'un paradoxe, Paris: Gallimard, 2000, pp. 2021 , 368.

60 Bryson, Norman, Word and Image: French Painting of the Ancien Régime, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981, pp. 2931 ; Heinich, Nathalie, Du peintre à l'artiste: Artisans et académiciens à l’âge classique, Paris: Minuit, 1993 ; and compare Gady, op. cit. (8), pp. 233–264.

61 This argument is in dialogue with Aït-Touati, Frédérique, Fictions of the Cosmos: Science and Literature in the Seventeenth Century, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 2011 ; and several recent articles by Ribard, Dinah: ‘Arpenter: Essai d'analyse non procédurale et non discursive d'une querelle du XVIIIe siècle’, Littératures classiques (2013) 81, pp. 269279 ; Ribard, ‘Le menuisier et l'enfant’, Gradhiva (2014) 20, pp. 84108 ; Ribard, ‘La science comme littérature à l’époque moderne’, Littératures classiques (2014) 85, pp. 135152 .

62 See, for example, the marriage of François Noblesse, a ‘dessinateur ordinaire du Roy’, to Marie-Margueritte Morisse, the daughter of a goldsmith and jeweller, in Archives nationales, Minutier central des notaires des Paris, XCIV 100, 9 June 1697, or the marriage of Thomas Germain, identified as a ‘Sculptor goldsmith to the King’ to Marie Bignon, the daughter of a goldsmith and jeweller, in Archives nationales, Minutier central des notaires des Paris, CXV 386, 7 January 1720. On the milieu see Kaplan, Steven J., ‘The luxury guilds in Paris in the eighteenth century’, Francia (1981) 9, pp. 257298 .

63 Préaud, Maxime, ‘Biographie’, in Inventaire du Fonds Français: Graveurs du XVIIe siècle, vol. 3, Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, 1980, viii, pp. 1112 ; Meaumé, Edouard, Sébastian le Clerc et son oeuvre, Paris, Baur et Rapilly, 1877, pp. 816 .

64 Jombert, Charles-Antoine, Catalogue raisonnée de l'oeuvre de Sébastian Le Clerc, chevalier romain, dessinateur et graveur du cabinet du Roi …, 2 vols., Paris: Jombert, 1774, vol. 1, p. xxxvi.

65 Jombert, op. cit. (64), vol. 1, pp. xxxviii–xxxix.

66 Jombert, op. cit. (64), vol. 1, p. xxxix.

67 Clerc, Sébastien Le, Pratique de la géométrie sur le papier et sur le terrain, avec un nouvel ordre et une méthode particulière, Paris: T. Jolly, 1669 ; Clerc, Le, Discours touchant le point de vue, dans lequel il est prouvé que les choses qu'on voit distinctement ne sont veuës que d'un oeil, Paris: T. Jolly, 1679 .

68 Préaud, op. cit. (63), p. 16, note 29; , Préaud, ‘“L'Académie des sciences et des beaux-arts”: le testament graphique de Sébastien Leclerc’, RACAR: Revue d'art canadienne/Canadian Art Review (1983) 10, pp. 7381 .

69 Cf. Biagioli, Mario, ‘The social status of Italian mathematicians, 1450–1600’, History of Science (1989) 27, pp. 4195 , 44–45, 56.

70 Valleriani, Matteo, Galileo Engineer, Dordrecht: Springer, 2010, pp. 207211 .

71 For example, see his work in Recueil d'observations …, op. cit. (48).

72 Recueil d'observations …, op. cit. (48).

73 Bertrand, L., Vie, écrits et correspondance littéraire de Laurent Josse Le Clerc, Paris: Léon Techner and Jules Vic, 1878, p. 7; de Vallemont, Abbé [Pierre], Eloge de M. Le Clerc, chevalier romain, dessinateur et graveur ordinaire du Cabinet du Roi, avec le Catalogue de ses ouvrages …, Paris: N. Caillou et J. Musier, 1715, p. 182 (on daughters reading to Le Clerc).

74 Vallemont, op. cit. (73), p. 182.

75 Le Clerc, op. cit. (13), pp. 123–124. The ‘planisphere’ Le Clerc constructed could mean ‘an astronomical instrument, used to observe the motions of the heavens’, such as an astrolabe, or a projection on a map. Furetière, Antoine, Dictionnaire Universel …, The Hague: A. et R. Leers (1690), s.v. ‘planisphere’.

76 Archives nationales, Minutier central des notaires des Paris, XI 443, 17 November 1718, published by Weigert, Roger-Armand, ‘Documents inédits relatifs à S. Le Clerc’, Annuaire de la Société d'histoire et d'archéologie de la Lorraine (1937) 46, pp. 305320 , 315.

77 Weigert, op. cit. (76), p. 315.

78 Bertrand, op. cit. (73), p. 8 n. 1.

79 Papillon, Philibert, Bibliothèque des auteurs de Bourgogne, vol. 2, Dijon: P. Marteret, 1742, pp. 913 .

80 Frijhoff, Willem and Julia, Dominique, ‘Le recrutement d'une congrégation enseignante et ses mutations à l’époque moderne: L'Oratoire de France’, Historical Reflections/Réflexions historiques (1980) 7, pp. 443458 , 448.

81 Claude Mallemant de Messange, Nouveau système de l'aiman, Paris: J. Cusson, s.d.; Mallemant, op. cit. (35); Mallemant, op. cit. (18).

82 de Messange, Claude Mallemant, Dissertation sur les comètes, Paris: J. Cusson, 1681 ; Mallemant, Le Grand et fameux problème de la quadrature du cercle résolu géométriquement par le cercle et la ligne droite, Paris: J.-B. Coignard, 1686 .

83 de Messange, Claude Mallemant, Réponse à une critique satyrique intitulée: ‘l'Apothéose du Dictionnaire de l'Académie françoise’, Paris: P. Ballard, 1696 ; , Mallemant, La question décidée sur le sujet de la fin du siècle, si l'année 1700 est la dernière du dix-septième siècle ou la première du dix-huit, Paris: J. Moreau, 1699 .

84 Ribard, Dinah, ‘Professeurs, maîtres et enseignants à l’époque moderne’, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales (2010) 184, pp. 90107 , 102.

85 Mallemant, op. cit. (1), pp. 14, 17.

86 Béguin, Katia, ‘L'académie du grand Condé: Un asile de liberté scientifique?’, in Demeulenaere-Douyère, Christiane and Brian, Eric (eds.), Règlement, usages et science dans la France de l'absolutisme, Paris: Lavoisier, 2002, pp. 2535 ; and briefly in Aiton, op. cit. (9), pp. 72–75.

87 [Mallemant], op. cit. (35), pp. 25, 37–38. For the exact date see [Castelet], op. cit. (46), p. 1.

88 [Mallemant], op. cit. (35), pp. 26–27.

89 [Castelet], op. cit. (46), pp. 1–3; [Mallemant], op. cit. (35), p. 4.

90 [Castelet], op. cit. (46), p. 3.

91 [Castelet], op. cit. (46), p. 3.

92 The Academy's registers drily note that on 22 January 1678 Cassini read his observations on Castelet's new system: Archives de l'Académie de sciences, procès-verbaux, t. 7 f. 135v.

93 [Castelet], op. cit. (46), pp. 3–4. Journal des sçavans, 14 March 1678, pp. 96–97. The tone of the journal author is cautious in reporting Castelet's claims, and does not endorse them.

94 [Castelet], op. cit. (46), p. 8.

95 Tinelis, Alexandre, Castelet, Sieur de, Exposition d'un nouveau sisteme du monde, plus surprenant & mieux prouvé que celuy de Copernic, contenu dans une Letrre de Mr. De Castelet, à Mr. de Saint Yon, Medecin du Roy, s.l., 1681 (Anna Amalia Library, Weimar). It seems that no copies were readily available in Paris in the early nineteenth century, as the publication is surveyed on the basis of the review in the Journal des sçavans by de la Lande, Jérôme, Bibliographie astronomique; avec l'histoire de l'astronomie depuis 1781 jusqu’à 1802, Paris: Imprimerie de la République, 1803, p. 289.

96 Mallemant, op. cit. (18), pp. 1–132.

97 Bertrand, op. cit. (73), p. 8 n. 1.

98 Mallemant, op. cit. (18), p. 157–178.

99 Tinelis, Alexandre, Castelet, Sieur de, Le Messager céleste …, Paris: L'Académie des Nouvelles Découvertes, Claude Blageart and Laurent d'Houry, 1681 , preliminary discourse, n.p.

100 Béguin, op. cit. (86), p. 33.

101 Margócsy, Dániel, Commercial Visions: Science, Trade, and Visual Culture in the Dutch Golden Age, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2014, pp. 2122 .

102 Journal des sçavans, 24 January 1707, 49–58, the reference to the dispute is at 58. For Racine's epigram see Boileau, Nicolas, Les satires de Boileau commentées par lui-même …, ed. Lachèvre, Frédéric, Paris: Impr. de Vaugirard, 1906, p. 92.

103 Vallemont, op. cit. (73), pp. 3–4.

104 Vallemont, op. cit. (73), pp. 79–80, 92.

105 Mariette, Pierre-Jean, Abecedario et autres notes inédites sur les arts et les artists, vol. 3, ed. de Chennevières, Ph. and de Montaiglon, A., Paris: J.-B. Dumoulin, 1856, p. 98.

106 Mariette, op. cit. (105), p. 101.

107 Vallemont, op. cit. (73), p. 182; Mariette, op. cit. (105), p. 99.

108 Vallemont, op. cit. (73), dedication, n.p.

109 Mariette, op. cit. (105), iii, p. 105. See also Smentek, Kristel, Mariette and the Science of the Connoisseur in Eighteenth-Century Europe, Farnham: Ashgate, 2014 .

110 Moréri, Louis, Le grand dictionnaire historique …, Paris: Chez les libraires associés, 1759 , s.v. ‘Clerc, Sébastien le’.

111 Jombert, op. cit. (64), vol. 1, pp. xxxv–xxxvi.

112 Jombert, op. cit. (64), vol. 2, pp. 241–242.

113 Shank, J.B., The Newton Wars and the Beginning of the French Enlightenment, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008, pp. 4648 .

114 [Voltaire], Lettres philosophiques, Amsterdam: E. Lucas, 1734, pp. 139–140.

115 Mallemant, op. cit. (18), pp. 148–157; [Mallemant], op. cit. (35), pp. 37–47.

116 Castelet, op. cit. (99), preliminary discourse, n.p.

117 Jombert, op. cit. (64), vol. 1, p. lxxiii.

118 Moréri, op. cit. (110), s.v. ‘Mallemans, Claude’; Papillon, op. cit. (79), p. 9.

119 Revel, Jacques, ‘The region’, in Nora, Pierre (ed.), Rethinking France: Les lieux de mémoire (tr. Perron, Janine Maltz), 4 vols., Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2006, vol. 2, pp. 149–82, 159.

120 Diderot, Denis, ‘Art’, Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné …, Paris: Briasson, David, Le Breton, Durand, 1751–1765 (ARTFL version).

121 Shiner, Larry, The Invention of Art: A Cultural History, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2001, pp. 111120 .

122 I am pursuing the ongoing publication of systems of the world in a separate study. The claim about the closure of the debate is from Helden, Albert Van, ‘Huygens and the astronomers’, in Bos, H.J.M., Rudwick, M.J.S., Snelders, H.A.M. and Visser, R.P.W. (eds.), Studies on Christiaan Huygens: Invited Papers from the Symposium on the Life and Work of Christiaan Huygens, Amsterdam, 22–25 August 1979, Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger, 1980, pp. 147165 , 147.

123 Iliffe, Rob, ‘“In the warehouse”: privacy, property and priority in the early Royal Society’, History of Science (1992) 30, pp. 2968 ; Fokko Jan Dijksterhuis, ‘Constructive thinking: a case for dioptrics’, in Roberts, Schaffer and Dear, op. cit. (7), pp. 59–82, esp. 73–77.

124 Rabinovitch, op. cit. (5), pp. 43–46.

125 For a brief theoretical statement see Bourdieu, Pierre, ‘Principles of an economic anthropology’, in Smelser, Neil J. and Swedberg, Richard (eds.), Handbook of Economic Sociology, 2nd edn, Princeton: Princeton University Press and Russell Sage Foundation, 2005, pp. 7589 , esp. 77–78.

126 Smith, Pamela H., ‘Why write a book? From lived experience to the written word in early modern Europe’, Bulletin of the German Historical Institute (2010) 47, pp. 2550 .

For helpful suggestions or comments on previous versions of this article, I warmly thank Nicholas Dew, Florence Hsia, Shaul Katzir, Ehud Lamm, Dániel Margócsy, Aviram Sariel, J.B. Shank, Amir Teicher, Ido Yavetz; participants in the Annual Meeting of the History of Science Society and the Research Seminar of the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science (Tel Aviv); and the anonymous readers for this journal.

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