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Greuze image

Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725–1805)
Portrait of Denis Diderot (1713–1784), 1766
Black chalk, stumped, and white chalk, worked wet, with touches of gray chalk, on brown paper
Signed at upper right in graphite, J. B. Greuze
14 1/4 x 11 1/16 inches (361 x 283 mm)
Purchased as the gift of John M. Crawford, Jr.; 1958.3
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Diderot sat for this portrait the year that he and Jean le Rond d’Alembert completed the Encyclopédie. He found it to be the most accurate depiction of him, stating, "I had a . . . head totally in the character of an ancient orator, a guilelessness that nearly bordered on simplicity, on the rusticity of ancient times." The profile medallion format lent itself easily to reproduction by engraving, and Greuze’s image thus became the iconic representation of the great Enlightenment philosopher.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.