Antique PrintsFrenchNatural History

Engravings from the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d’Alembert

Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers
Published in France between 1751 and 1772

The Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire Raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des Metiers was published in Paris between 1762-1777. A masterpiece of the Enlightenment, it set out all the knowledge of the day, and was a first attempt to document the techniques of mechanical production for objects used in everyday life.  Edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert, Encyclopedie it had many distinguished writers and contributors, known as the Encyclopédistes.  Scholars from around the world submitted chapters, including the philosophes Voltaire and Rousseau, and American founding fathers Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.  The work consisted of 28 volumes, over 70,000 articles and 3,129 illustrations many of which were turned into copperplate engravings by the hand of Robert Bénard.

Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, and man of letters, and the chief editor of the L’Encyclopédie, one of the principal achievements of the Age of Enlightenment. He was a a friend of the great minds of his age including Goethe, Rousseau, and Hume. A freethinker, Diderot challenged the authority of the Church and criticized the French system of government.

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