Sèvres portrait plate from the

Sèvres portrait plate from the "Iconographique Français" service

Code: MB753


Depicting Alexis Claude Clairaut (1713–65), French mathematician 


Diameter: 9 1⁄4 in. (23.5 cm.)

Marks: stamped mark of interlaced Ls enclosing fleur de lis and ‘21.’, ‘D.Y.’ mark in puce for gilder Charles-Christian-Marie Durosey, and ‘4 m. 20 no 3’ in green; the portrait roundel signed "Arsène Trouvé"; incribed in purple on the reverse is “Clairaut (alexis claude) mathematicien, ne a Paris. 18 me Siecle”


The “Iconographique Français” service, described as “service du Roi fond bleu”, was delivered on November 24, 1824, to King Charles X for use at the Grand Trianon. There were 96 “assiettes plates” with decoration described as “fond lapis portraits d’hommes celebres peint en brun”, each costing 80 Francs.

The factory specifications for the service state that the pieces are to be decorated from engravings, and that the Paris print-seller M. Bouard and the curator at the Bibliothèque du Roi, M. Duchesne, are to be consulted so that only “les meilleures et les plus authentiques” should be used.

Alexis Claude Clairaut (1713–65) was a French mathematician, who delivered his first paper to the Academy of Sciences at the age of only 12. In 1736, Clairaut was part of a team of scientists who travelled to Lapland, in Finland, to measure the length of a degree of latitude in order to determine whether the earth is a perfect sphere or flattened at the poles—an expedition to confirm what had so far only been theorized by Sir Isaac Newton.

The portrait of Clairaut on the plate, painted by the female artist Arsène Trouvé, is based on an engraving by Louis-Jacques Cathelin after Charles-Nicolas Cochin.