To Christiaan Huygens 'under construction'
Started Feb 16, 2008
Last Update March 31, 2009

Portraits of Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695).

The goal of this web page is to give a comprehensive review of the portraits of Christiaan Huygens. Although, one way or the other, most of these images can be found on the Internet, I think that this is the largest collection to date, and yet still not complete. Providing the largest Huygens images is not one of my goals. All images have been scaled down to a height of 200 pixels. Of almost any image on this page, larger versions can be found elsewhere. Every item will be presented in full and if possible (and necessary!) an extra image is added, zooming in on the facial features. The review is divided in three parts: The primary reference is Gelder, H.E van (1957) Ikonografie van Constantijn Huygens en de zijnen. Den Haag, Martinus Nijhoff. The main accent will be on the first part. To be frank, I am only moderately impressed with the meagre results of copying perfectly good 17th century originals.
And I wont' pretend to consider every image representing Christiaan Huygens as a viable candidate for this page. I think that the ceramic represention above a shop in Amsterdam and the contemporary stamps are a fair indication of what comprises the limits of what is acceptable to me.
Therefore no pictures on candy wrappers or on cookie jars. But if an image has a certain appeal to me, who knows...?

NB A few lengthy parts of the descriptions have been hidden by default, but can made visible by ticking the appropriate checkbox. The small Java Script applet that expands these hidden texts, may also be the reason your browser warns for a safety hazard. The texts (esp. from the correspondence) have been copied unchanged from the OC.

Portraits made during Christiaan's life time.

If we define a portrait as a likeness that resembles the person portrayed at the time the portrait is created, then of these seven items, the Edelinck engraving may very well be not a portrait as defined. The genesis of the marble version of the silver Clerion medal is particulary interesting as we can learn from Christiaan's Correspondence (letters #2187 & #2191) that Christiaan provided Clerion with a self portrait in clay to work from, that was superior in likeness to that of Clerion. So in fact we may see an echo of Christiaan's self portrait when looking at the medal as well as at the marble relief.
1639/40, (206 * 174.5 cm, oil) of Constantijn Huygens and his children by Adriaen Hanneman (1604-1671). Mauritshuis, The Hague.
Formerly the boy on left of Constantijn sr was 'recognized' as Christiaan. However the place on the right of a father, which to the viewer is the left side, was traditionally reserved for the eldest son i.e. Constantijn jr.. This meant that the son on his left (his right side to the viewer) had to be Christiaan. The empty medallion at the bottom contains the tekst

1671, (30 * 24 cm, oil on paper mounted on panel) by Caspar Netscher (1639-1684). Signed and dated in the lower left corner. Collection Haags Historisch Museum, The Hague. On loan at the Boerhaave museum, Leiden.
The painting was made when Christiaan was convalescing in Den Haag, being on a sick leave from his activities at the Academie des Sciences in France. Netscher had already painted Geertruyd Huygens (1668), Constantijn sr. (1669), Susanne Huygens (1669) and her husband Philip Doublet (1667).

1679, (ø 79 mm, gilded cast) by Jean Jacques Clerion (1637 -1714). Unsigned and dated. Boerhaave museum, Leiden. Inventory number: V23473
August 18, 1679 Christiaan wrote to Constantijn jr.
September 8, 1679 Christiaan continued
The verso side shows Chronos (Time personified) leaning on his scythe and watching a pendulum swing between two curved strips of metal in the shape of an inverted cycloid. These 'constraints' force the pendulum's period to be constant irrespective of the amplitude. In the back the planet Saturn and its ring are visible.
The original medal is part of the numismatic collection of the Bode-museum (Karl Friedrich Museum until 1956), Berlin. (ø 81 mm, bronze) ...
The image on the left is copied from an illustration that reproduces the plaster cast of Crommelin.
Information about the Berlin medal was kindly provided by Dr. Wolfgang Steguweit, Stellv. Direktor Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Münzkabinett.

1679, (33.7 * 37.3 cm, marble) by Jean Jacques Clerion (1637 -1714). Boerhaave museum, Leiden. Inventory number: P02618
Clerion did the relief after he had finished the medal. It is signed 'J. Cl' on the vertical strip where the shoulders meet the surface. Leiden Observatory, Library
This is an example of one the plaster casts of the Boerhaave Medaillon

1686, (42 * 32.5 cm, pastel) by Bernard Vaillant (1632-1698) Signed and dated in the right upper corner. Huygensmuseum Hofwijck, Voorburg.
It is a pendant of a pastel drawing of Christiaan's sister Susanne. Both pastel drawings were purchased in june 1960 by Hofwijck with financial support of both the Prins Berhard and the Caritas foundation. Van Gelder suggested in 1960 that these drawings may have have been part of the possessions of Susanna Louisa Huygens and were kept in a wrapper "tekeningen meest van de familie" (probably mentioned in the 1785 inventory of Susanna Louisa Huygens' possessions). This information was kindly provided by Belle van den Bergh and Ad Leerintveld.

1687, (20 * 17 cm, engraving) by Gérard Edelinck (1640-1707, 'Edelinck eques Sculp') and printed by Pierre Drevet (1664-1738, 'Drevet excud.'). Boerhaave museum, Leiden.
It is odd that any indication of who made the drawing or painting for this print (e.g. invenit / pinxit / delineavit) is missing. It appears to be engraved after an unknown portrait, that in turn was probably based on the 1671 painting by C. Netscher. It seems to me therefore not valid to assume that the engraving shows us how Christiaan Huygens looked in 1687. Some sites / authors do however present this engraving as a portrait of Huygens in his mid fifties.
From two letters by Huygens we learn that the idea for this print came from the engraver Jacques Antoine Friquet de Vaurose (1648-1716), who wanted to publish a collection of portraits. The plan originated early 1685, at which time Huygens still had high regards for Friquet. December 14, 1684 Christiaan wrote about Friquet

Huygens consented to Friquet's request, but then nothing seemed to happen for some years despite several letters by Huygens. October 23. 1687 Christiaan wrote to Friquet
Huygens was understandably annoyed when three years later Friquet started to ask for money. 29 June, 1688 Christiaan wrote again to Friquet

1688, (64 * 54 cm, oil on canvas) by Pierre Bourguignon (1630-1698). KNAW, Trippenhuis, Amsterdam.
The discovery in 1949 of a note by Christiaan's nephew Constantijn IV (1675-1739) "Is nogh een ander Conterfeytsel van hem, van Bourguignon, in het laest van sijn leeven gedaen en van soodaenigen weesen kleedije, als hij aen mij wel het meeste in gedagten is ingeprent gebleeven".(OC XXII, p. 754) led to the identification of the painter by A.E. Crommelin. Soon after the discovery a debate ignited between Crommelin and Van Gelder about whether weesen kleedije should be understood as 'orphan style' clothes or, by expanding it to weesen en kleedije, as being and clothes. A debate that still has its effect on later biographical texts.
A note by Huygens M. Bourgignon qu'il viene. was found in HUG 1, p. 331 and dated by the OC editors some time before November 1687. (OC XXII, p. 921)

Posthumous representations.

Most representations of Christiaan Huygens, that were made after he died, are generally based on the Edelinck engraving or one of its descendants. Notice especially how the curls of the wig and the folds in the shirt and the gown were copied by later artists. Also the slightly opened collar is characteristic and reappears even in the medals of 1821 and 1870 that at first glance resemble the 1679 Clerion medal.
At this point I would also like to mention that this project met with a lot of friendly support and willingness to contribute information and images. Drs. Gerard Duijvestein, to name but one, contributed several scans of 19th century prints from his private collection.
1724, (21.3 * 15 cm, engraving) by Frederik Ottens (fl. 1700 - 1749) for 's-Gravesande's edition of the Opera varia. Based on the 1687 engraving by G. Edelinck. At the bottom it reads:
Christianus Hugenius
natus 14 Aprilis 1629.
denatus 8 Junii 1695.

The error in the date of his death (it should have read 8 Julii) has led quite a few people astray. This incorrect date is also found in the Vita Hugenii by 's-Gravesande 'Vitam finivit Hagae Comitum octavo Junii 1695'. The error can be traced back to the text by Constantijn IV 'Stierff in 's GraevenHaege: den viii. Junij 1695.' that he provided to 's-Gravesande.

1760, (25.2 x 18.6 cm, engraving a la crayon) by Jean Charles Francois (1717-1769).
The print appeared in M. de Saveriens Histoire de Philosophes Modernes, avec leur Portrait grave dans le gout du Crayon, published in-4o in 1761. Other, smaller 12-mo editions only show the centre of the image. The print shows a buste on a pedestal in a architectural niche. Above it a solar face radiating light. The buste is flanked by two incense burners. Source: Portrait Antiquariat Klaus Hille, Berlin (retrieved from, okt 2004)

1817, (14 x 11 cm, engraving + etching) drawing by N.I.W.C.Heideloff (1761-1837)/etching and engraving by P.H.L. v.d. Meulen (1780-1850).
The print appeared in Peerlkamp's edition of Constantijn Huygens Sermones de Vita Propria. It copies the painting by Hanneman, that according to the text on the print, was by P. van Dijk. Numbers are added to the portraits of the children (1 top = Suzanne, 2 middle-left = Constantijn, 3 middle-right = Christiaan, 4 bottom-left = Lodewijk, 5 bottom-right = Philips). A poem by Constantijn Huygens dated Jan 3, 1641 is added.
Quo genus et formam Constanter, opesque et amoris
Imtempestivi spernat ubique faces,
Hugenium divâ privatum Conjuge Patrem
Hoc armaverunt Fata satellitio

See OC XXII pp. 395-396, for a discussion about the identification of Christiaan in the Hanneman painting. In OC XXII p. 396 it is suggested that the poem is by Constantijn jr. This seems to be in conflict with the poem's title In Effigiem Meam Quinque Liberorum Vultibus Cinctam that is omitted on the print.
Source: collection G.M. Duijvestein, Voorburg.

1820, (30.5 x 22.2 cm, steel engraving) by unknown () after Pierre Bourguignon (1630-1698).
Source: Haags Gemeente Archief

1821, (ø 40 mm, bronze) by Henrionnet (F)./ (A.) Durand (EDIDIT)
Obverse: Huygens en profile. CHRISTIANUS HUGENIUS. Reverse:
NB The year of Huygens' death is incorrect and should be M.DC.XCV.

1840, (15 x 18 cm, lithography) by F.B Waanders (1809-1880) / lithography by C.M. Mensing.
Taken from the first volume of the the art journal 'De Kunstkronyk' (1840-1841). It copies the painting by Hanneman, that according to the text on the print, was at that time attributed to A. van Dijk. See also entry 1817.
Source: collection G.M. Duijvestein, Voorburg.

1862, (? x ? cm, oil) by Lambertus Lingeman (1829-1894). Nederlands Goud-, Zilver- en Klokkenmuseum, Schoonhoven.
The painting is one of the more than 100 oil paintings made by 77 artists, that comprised the 'Historical Galery of Arti et Amicitiae' in Amsterdam that was officialy inaugurated in 1862. Lingeman was also involved in another 'Historical Galery' of which the paintings were commissioned by J. De Vos Jz. (1803-1878) and executed in the period 1850-1863. From the 'Arti et Amicitiae' paintings steel engravings were made for Nederlands Geschiedenis en Volksleven in schetsen that appeared in 1868-1872.
Source: Dedalo Carasso (ed.)(1991). Helden van het vaderland. Onze geschiedenis in 19de-eeuwse taferelen verbeeld. De historische galerij van Jacob de Vos Jacobszoon 1850-1863. Amsterdams Historisch Museum, Amsterdam

1865, (15 x 12 cm, steel engraving) painting by L. Lingeman (1829-1894) / engraving by J.H.M. Rennefeld (1823-1877).
The print is one of the more than 100 illustrations from Nederlands Geschiedenis en Volksleven in schetsen by J van Lennep, W Moll and J ter Gouw. It shows Christiaan Huygens at work on a pendulum mechanism, that resembles the picture in the Horologium Oscillatorium. A vice holding a cogwheel and clamped to the table, suggests that he made all parts of the clock by himself, which is incorrect. Notice also the map of Greece and the globe on the chest.
Source: collection G.M. Duijvestein, Voorburg.

1868, (12.5 x 11 cm, lithography) by P.W. v.d. Weijer (1816-1880).
This print is a copy of part of the Edelinck engraving and appeared in Album Der Natuur. Een werk ter verspreiding van natuurkennis onder beschaafde lezers van allerlei stand. Nieuwe reeks. Editors P.Harting, D. Lubach and W.M. Logeman. Published by Gebroeders Hoitsema, 1868.
Source: collection G.M. Duijvestein, Voorburg.

1870, (ø ca. 75 mm, gold) Jacob Samuel (‘Jacques’) Cohen Elion (1840-1893).
Price medal donated by the Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen in Haarlem. A medal "that every four years was to be presented in gold to the scientist whose research in the previous twenty years had shown the greatest progress in one of the exact sciences". The medal was presented in 1870 (physics: RE Clausius), 1874 (chemistry: A Kekule), 1878 (astronomy: S Newcomb), 1882 (meteorology: G Neumayer; & Buys-Ballot (extra)) and in 1886 (mathematics: A Cayley).
Source: Bierens de Haan, J.A. (1952,1970) De Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen, 1752-1952. Haarlem, Tjeenk Willink.

1870, (22.5 x 14.5 cm, lithography) Artist unknown.
Een Nachtstudie (A study of nightlight). Christiaan Huygens is portrayed, standing in thought in the moonlight, surrounded by books, telescopes and a globe. A hard to read signature is present in the lower left part. It was printed by Tresling & Cº (Hof-Lith Amsterdam).
Source: collection G.M. Duijvestein, Voorburg.

1882, (127 * 87 cm, in oil) by Armand Gautier (1825-1894). (Paris inv. i.82), Observatoire de Paris, Paris.
It is a faithfull copy in oil of the Edelinck engraving, but for the drawing of Saturn at the lower right part of the painting and the extended upper part.

1885, (7 x 7 cm, wood engraving) Artist unknown.
It is a copy of part of the Edelinck engraving. This same image was also used in the 1895 facsimile edition of Huygens' Van rekeningh in spelen van geluck issued by the Algemeene Maatschappij van Levensverzekering en Lijfrente as 'blaadje nr. 690'.
Although this has to be checked, the image shown may have figured in 'blaadje nr. 251' that contained a brief biography of Huygens. Source: collection G.M. Duijvestein, Voorburg.

1892, (17 x 16 cm, engraving) by Edouard Garnier.
It is a copy of the Edelinck engraving, but for the extension of the clock and the absence of the foliage in the background. A monogram is visible near Huygens' elbow. The image is from the Katholieke Illustratie, nr. 36, jaargang 1892/93. Source: collection G.M. Duijvestein, Voorburg.

1909, (ca 670 * b? cm, sandstone) Artist unknown. Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen, Haarlem.
In 1905 the physics teacher Louis Bleekrode (Phd, Leiden 1867) bequeathed 40.000,-- guilders to the Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen to erect a statue of Christiaan Huygens. The architect P.J.H. Cuypers (1827-1921) made a design for a monument 20 meters in height, to be situated in The Hague at the Lange Voorhout, near the Hotel des Indes. It was rejected however by the municipal council for being too neo-gothical in style and not being a proper statue.
It was finally executed on a scale of 1:3 and unveiled on May 28, 1909. It resides in the garden of the Hodshon house, residence of the Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen, at the Spaarne in Haarlem.
Sources: Bouwman, J. (1969) Het Merckwaerdigste meyn bekent. Den Haag, Kruseman.
De Rijksdienst voor Archeologie, Cultuurlandschap en Monumenten (RACM), Foto- en Tekeningenarchief (FTA), Zeist, via
Bierens de Haan, J.A. (1952,1970) De Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen, 1752-1952. Haarlem, Tjeenk Willink.

20th century, (h? * b?, ceramic) Artist unknown. It is situated in the wall above a shop in the Leidsestraat 88, Amsterdam.
Huygens watching a pendulum swing, with several clocks behind him. The subject suggests that watches and clocks were once sold on these premises. The second and third image are based on a digital image kindly provided by Kees Kaldenbach.

1928, (h? * b?, paper) by Jan (Johannes Carolus) Sluyters (1881-1957).
This stamp was issued on december 10, 1928 in the Netherlands as part of the 1928 'Weldadigheidszegels "voor het kind"'. It is loosely based on the Ottens' engraving, with Christiaan staring straight ahead instead of looking at the viewer.

1948, (h? * b?, stone) by Albert P(olydorus) Termote (1887-1978).
This statue is placed next to the entrance of the former office of the insurance company 'Nationale Levensverzekerings-Bank'. A statue of J. de Witt serves as an pendant. Both men are considered to be the founding fathers of the mathematics of life insurance. Schiekade 830, Rotterdam.

1955, (87mm * 155 mm., paper) by Josef Ferdinand Doeve (Eppo) (1907-1981). Printed by Joh. Enschedé en Zonen Grafische Inrichting N.V., Haarlem.
This bank note was issued in the Netherlands as part of the first 'erflaters' series. In the background we see the Huygens country estate Hofwijck, Saturn and two other planets basking in the rays of the large sun.

1955, (30 * 24 mm, paper) by Samuel Louis Hartz (1912-1995).
This stamp was issued on nov 14, 1955 in the Netherlands as part of the 1955 'Weldadigheidszegels "voor het kind"'. It is based on one of the childrens portraits in the 1640 Hanneman painting that at that time was thought to represent Constantijn jr.. The Hanneman portrait of Philips Huygens also features in this series.

1975, (ø 40 mm, bronze, silver coated and oxidized) by Willem J. Vis (fish at 4 o'clock obverse). Commisioned by the 'Vereniging van Opticiens'. KB VI 3981.
This medal was issued at the opening of the Optiekcentrum in Utrecht. Obverse: portrait (three quarter) of Christiaan Huygens. Reverse; four lines of text
14 APRIL 1629
8 JUNI 1695.
The incorrect date of Huygens' death suggests that it is derived from the Ottens print. The images were kindly provided by Johan Mevius.
Source: Weiler, A.C. von (nd) Koninklijk Begeer BV: Ateliers voor Edelsmeed- en Penningkunst. Voorschoten: penningen geslagen of gegoten in de jaren 1960-1975. Deel VI. VAM, Voorschoten

1979, (h? * b?, paper) Artist unknown.
This stamp was issued in the République Fedérale et Islamique des Comores as part of series of six on February 19, 1979.

1995?, (ø 40 mm, gilded?) by Willem J. Vis (fish at bottom obverse).
Visible on the obverse side side are a pendulum clock (image III of the Horlogium Oscillatorium), the planet saturn and six stars. Additional information on this coin would be appreciated.

1996, (h? * b?, bronze) by Hans Bayens (1924-2003). Constantijn en Christiaan Huygens. Park Vreugd en Rust. Voorburg.
To commemorate the tricentenary of Christiaan's death (1695) and the quadricentenary of Constantijn sr's birth (1596), in Voorburg a foundation was formed. It was this foundation that commissioned this National Huygens monument. Afterwards it also instituted the annual 'Christiaan Huygens Award'.

1998, (40 * b? cm, bronze) by Frank Letterie (1931-).
This statue is part of the annual 'Christiaan Huygens Award'. Information and image were kindly provided by drs A. Verduijn, board member of the Christiaan Huygens Award foundation.

2000, (h? * b?, paper) Artist unknown.
This millenium stamp was issued in Grenada. It has the text "1655 Christian Huggens discovered the rings of Saturn".

2006, (h? * b?, paper) Artist unknown.
This stamp, showing a part of the Netscher painting, was issued in the République de Djibouti. It erroneously gives 1693 as the year of Christiaan's death and is a low quality, mirror copy of the Netscher painting.

2006, (h? * b?, paper) Artist unknown.
This stamp, showing a part of the Vaillant pastel drawing, was issued in the République du Mali.

2008, (h? * b?, paper) Artist unknown.
A stamp, showing the Vaillant pastel drawing, will be issued in the Netherlands this year by the Muntzegel together with TNT as part of a series dedicated to the Dutch Historical Canon. This information was kindly provided by Belle van den Bergh of Huygensmuseum Hofwijck

Portraits that supposedly represent Christiaan Huygens.

This last category is a heterogenous lot as could be expected. The first two items of Dutch origin have been under scrutiny by experts for a long time. The last few items were created in France while Huygens worked as a member of the Académie des Sciences. Of these images it is assumed (by me e.g.) that they portray actual members of the Académie, among whom we may find Huygens.
1652?, (43.4 * 31.7 cm, oil on panel) by Johannes Mijtens (1614-1670). It is signed: JMijtens.pinxit dated 1652 and has
Heere van Zeelum
on the back. The clothes suggest a later date (1665 - 1670). As it was not Christiaan, but Constantijn jr who was called Lord of Zeelhem, the identification of the sitter appears to be incorrect. Kees van der Leer however informed me (June 2008) that Christiaan was Lord of Zeelhem between 1687 and 1695. This would make the identification as Christiaan again more probable. It was auctioned at Sotheby's, Londen, July 8 1999, lot 158, as 'a portrait of Christiaen Huygens'. Source: Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie.

1670?, (68.5 * 57.9 cm, oil on canvas) attributed to Nicolaes Maes (1634-1693) (signed lower right corner: MAES).
It was sold at the Drouot auction, Paris, April 2, 1874, lot 73, as 'Portrait de Christiaen Huygens'. This appears to be the painting that Van Gelder discussed as nr. 12 of the Christiaan portraits. Apart from the Drouot auction reference it was unknown to him, and is also not mentioned in the 1785 inventory of Susanna Louisa Huygens. Therefore Van Gelder remained cautious and suggested another Christiaan Huygens (1634-1676, eldest zoon of Christiaan's deceased uncle Maurits) as a possible identification of the sitter.
It was auctioned again at Christie's, in Amsterdam, May 7,1997, lot 18. Source: Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie.

1671, (10.2 * 24.1 cm, engraving) by Sebastien Le Clerc (1637-1714).
This engraving was made for Claude Perrault's Memoires pour servir a l'histoire naturelle des animaux 1671. E.C. Watson identifies the man with the magnifying glass as Christiaan Huygens.
Source: Watson, E.C. (1939) The Early Days of the Académie des Sciences as Portrayed in the engravings of Sébastien Le Clerc. Osiris, 7, 556-587.

1676?, (348 * 590 cm, oil on canvas) by Henri Testelin (1616-1695) as part of Etablissement de l'Académie des Sciences et fondation de l'observatoire. MV2047. Musée du Château, Versailles. I have studied this painting since november 2003. More information can be found at A portrait of Christiaan Huygens? in Etablissement de l'Académie des Sciences et fondation de l'observatoire.1666