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Painting and Graphic Art

Portrait of the mathematician Johannes Bernoulli Falkner I

Key data

dated 1725

G.(?) Stauder, Basle(?)

Oil on canvas, 92 x 75 cm

Inv. 1991.154.


Johann Bernoulli (1667-1748), from 1705 the leading mathematician on the Continent, appears in the pose of a Baroque ruler and is dressed in the court fashion. His science is evoked by the books and by the celestial globe in the background, an attribute which alludes to the ancient association of mathematics with astrology. For several generations the Bernoulli family, originating in Antwerp and settling in Basle in 1622, produced important scholars who attained renown especially in the mathematical sciences. The sitter taught mathematics at Basle University from 1705 and was a member of the academies in Paris, Berlin, London, Bologna and, from 1725 when the portrait was painted, St Petersburg. He was a successful protagonist of Leibniz's calculus, and with his brother worked on differential and integral mathematics. His collected works and his correspondence with Leibniz were published in 1742 and 1745.

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