(b. 1616, Paris, d. 1695, Den Haag)

Colbert Presenting the Members of the Royal Academy of Sciences to Louis XIV in 1667

Oil on canvas, 348 x 590 cm
Musée National du Château, Versailles

In the second half of the 17th century all of Europe admired - though no one really imitated - France's various academies: art (established in 1648), science (1666) and architecture (1671). These academies were not only repositories of knowledge, they also backed extensive operations such as factories (tapestries, mirrors)and specialized workshops directed by superintendents and their agents. Never had artistic life been organized so thoroughly, so precisely, so extensively. This was the work of Colbert and his circle.