Dedicated to Louis XIV, this print—quickly recognized as one of the engraver’s masterpieces—does not represent a specific academy but rather shows an imaginary Academy combining all the sciences, liberal and fine arts. Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Music, Geometry and Astronomy for the liberal arts; Perspective, Optics, Drawing, Painting, Sculpture and Architecture for the fine arts; and finally Physics, Anatomy, Numismatics, Heraldry, and Theology for the sciences. Leclerc included one hundred and sixty two figures and multiple machines, including a crane, tools, and other instruments. An extraordinary profusion, a major work that can also be read as the artist’s graphic and philosophical testament to the age when the progress of science began to replace the “melancholic and speculative science” of the Middle Ages, to borrow Maxime Préaud’s terms.
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