The Portrait of Laplace

Painting of Laplace

This portrait of Pierre Simon Laplace (1749-1827) was painted from life in 1784, when Laplace was 35 years old. The artist was Johann-Ernst Heinsius, presumably hired by Laplace's patron, Jean-Baptiste Gaspard Bochart de Saron, who had funded the publication of Laplace's first book that same year: Théorie du Mouvement de la Figure Elliptique des Planetes (Paris, Imprimerie de Ph.-D. Pierres, 1784).

Heinsius borrowed the pose from a self-portrait in 1711 by the well-known earlier portrait artist, Nicolas de Largillierre, and he signaled the debt by signing Largillierre's name to the portrait. Largillierre had depicted an easel with the beginning of the self-portrait on display; Heinsius showed an easel with a drawing from mechanics of a simple balance, to illustrate the mathematical nature of Laplace's work. In fact, diagrams of any sort are quite rare in Laplace's published work. Heinsius executed two very similar versions of the portrait; the other has hung in a small museum in Lons-le-Saunier (in the east of France) since 1860. No other portraits of Laplace under the age of 50 are known; the most commonly reprinted portrait was painted in 1842, 15 years after he died.

...and Friends:

Persi Diaconis Bradley Efron James Berger Samuel Kou
Ingram Olkin and friends Joel E. Cohen Michael I. Jordan
John Lafferty Wing Wong Matthew Stephens and Michael Stein
Matthew Stephens and significant other Lynne and Laurie Butler Nicolas Brunel Peter McCullagh
Dan Nicolae Xiao-Li Meng
Chao Gao and significant other Stephen Stigler
Mathias Drton Donald Rubin Anna Mary Wallace
Haavard Rue Rosa McCullagh and Raluca Nicolae
Ed George Guillaume Bal Lei Sun and Radu Craiu Robin Gong
David Andrews Steven Lalley
Daniel Sanz-Alonso and significant other Rebecca Willett and significant other Pragya Sur and Subhabrata Sen Alexis Bordes
Iain Johnstone Andre Ariew Andrew Gelman Ginny and Suzy
Karen and Tristan, UC Press Alex Campolo Sandy Zabell Mark Abney and Mary Sara McPeek
Colm O'Muircheartaigh Greg Lawler Lars Hansen and Grace Tsiang Mei Wang and Ronald Thisted
Mihai Anitescu and Magdalena Per Lan Zhang and Per Mykland Michael Newton Claire Donnat, Jeremy Hoskins, Jingshu Wang
Anne Strother and Elizabeth Frengel Teresa Ging Angela Olinto Frank Easterbrook
Kate Moon Henrik Støvring Sara van de Geer Cong Ma
Johannes Schmidt-Hieber and Nathan Srebro Xinran Li Roger Koenker (left) and Gib Bassett Marc Hallin
Steffan Lauritzen      

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