Elémens de la philosophie de Neuton : mis à la portée de tout le monde

Collection History

This digital collection draws upon the materials selected for an exhibition called "Seeing Is Believing," held in the Library's Gottesman Exhibition Hall, October 23, 1999 - February 19, 2000. Natural history materials were included very selectively in that exhibition; however, natural history materials have their own separate presentations in NYPL Digital Gallery, devoted to plants and to animals respectively.


The digital presentation reprises the exhibition's overarching premise: pictures, as Leonhart Fuchs noted in the introduction to his great herbal of 1542, "can communicate information much more clearly than the words of even the most eloquent men."

The exhibition posited three categories of scientific images. One allows viewers to "see" or understand information that defies direct observation by using different methods to show various kinds of theory or reality. For example, Copernicus's simple diagram of the solar system presented theory based on careful study. Other scientists, such as Vesalius, who elegantly depicted the muscles of the human body and Trouvelot' who gloriously attempted to present the wonders of the heavens, based their observations, though selective, on reality. A third type of image acts as a record of direct observation and communication, such as the steps for conducting an experiment or procedure, or simply the equipment needed, such as the apparatus Boyle used in his experiments on air.

The exhibition and this digital presentation share the same proviso. "Although not providing a comprehensive history of scientific and medical illustration, these images open a window on the radical shift in the cosmology of early modern Europe that began around 1543 with the publication of seminal works by Copernicus and Vesaliius, and continued with the work of Newton, Harvey, Darwin, Curies and others."

Related Resources

Baigrie, Brian S., ed. Picturing Knowledge: Historical and Philosophical Problems Concerning the Use of Art in Science. (c1996)

Ford, Brian J. Images of Science: A History of Scientific Illustration. (1992)

Horblitt, Harrison. One Hundred Books Famous in Science. (1964)

Lee, Jennifer B. and Miriam Mandelbaum. Seeing Is Believing: 700 Years of Scientific and Medical Illustration. (1999)

NYPL. "Heavens Above: Art & Actuality." (2001) <http://www.nypl.org/research/sibl/trouvelot/>

_____. "Seeing Is Believing." (1999-2000) <http://seeing.nypl.org/>

Robin, Harry. The Scientific Image: From Cave to Computer. (1992)

Tufte, Edward R. Envisioning Information. (1991, c1990)

See also the following Collection Guides for additional materials: Nature Illustrated: Flowers, Plants, and Trees, 1550-1900, and Classic Illustrated Zoologies and Related Works, 1550-1900.

Collection Data

Voltaire, 1694-1778 (Author)
Desbordes, Jacques, 1704-1742 (Publisher)
Dates / Origin
Date Issued: 1738
Place: Amsterdam
Publisher: Jacques Desbordes
Library locations
Rare Book Division
Shelf locator: **KGV (Voltaire. Elements. 1738) 07-279
Newton, Isaac, Sir, 1642-1727 -- Principia
Ownership: Martin J. Gross Collection.
Statement of responsibility: par Mr. de Voltaire.
Content: Co-published by Étienne Ledet & Compagnie and Jacques Desbordes, Amsterdam; printed by Ledet. The sheets were also issued with a variant title page with Ledet's device and imprint: A Amsterdam : Chez Etienne Ledet & Compagnie, MDCCXXXVIII. See Brown (cited below); Walters & Barber. Éléments de la philosophie de Newton, introduction (in Voltaire. Works, 1968-, v. 15), page 65.
Content: Illustrations: Engraved allegorical frontispiece with portrait of Newton, by J. Folkema after L.F. Dubourg; engraved portrait of Voltaire, by Folkema; 7 engraved diagrams on 7 leaves of plates (one folded) and 60 small engraved diagrams in the text, all unsigned. The frontispiece and portrait are not present in all copies.
Content: Engraved device of Jacques Desbordes (on title page), by C. Duflos after L.F. Dubourg (signed L.F. Du B.); 4 engraved headpieces (repeated to 27) and 5 engraved tailpieces (repeated to 22), designed and/or engraved by G. Condet (signed G. Kondet), L.F. Dubourg (signed L.F. Duburg), J. Folkema, F.M. La Cave, B. Picart and J. van der Schley; many dated 1737.
Content: NYPL copy is on thick paper (page block approximately 35 mm thick; ordinary paper copies are approximately 25 mm thick).
Content: Binding: 19th-century red straight-grained morocco, gilt.
Ownership: H.F. Norman, M.D. (bookplate; annotations "HFN 2165" on front flyleaf and "Complete/Norman" on back flyleaf).
Physical Description
Extent: 399, [1] p. : 2 fronts. (1 port.) illus., fold. table, diagrs. ; 23 cm. (8vo)
Type of Resource
RLIN/OCLC: 124507815
Barcode: 33433062068634
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b16777823
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 7ae1a480-c60a-012f-f705-58d385a7bc34
Show filters Hide filters
3 results found