De la Hire’s Arithmetic

Laurent de la Hyre’s Arithmetic
Walters Arts Museum (Baltimore)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Today is March 18, 2013 and Philippe de la Hire was born on March 18, 1640. Philippe de la Hire was a French mathematician who worked on astronomy and the conic sections. He provided an exposition of the properties of the conic sections and he applied the analytic geometry to some indeterminate problems about intersection of curves.

Philippe de la Hire’s father was the painter Laurent de la Hire (1606-1656) who got a lot of commissions from distinguished politicians, the Church and rich Parisian who wanted to have a portrait in their houses. But Laurent de la Hire had also time to paint the Allegories of the Liberal Arts and the Arithmetic can be enjoyed in the Walters Arts Museum of Baltimore.

Detail of the picture

The Arithmetic holds a book in which we can read the name of Pythagoras (c. 570 aC – c. 495 aC) and there is a paper on the book with the words “par” (“even”) and “impar” (“odd”) and an addition,  difference and a multiplication. Can you imagine the young Philippe watching his father painting this picture? Maybe Philippe found his way to Mathematics in that moment!

Location: The Walters Art Museum (map)

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