The great philospher René Descartes was born in La Haye, a small city between Tours and Poitiers, in 1596. After having studied in La Flèche and in Paris he joined the Dutch army in 1617 and stayed in Breda for one year. He returned to Holland in 1622 and eventually settled there in 1629, leaving only in 1649 for Sweden upon the invitation of Queen Christina. He died in Stockholm on 11 February 1650. It was in Holland however, that he wrote most of his best known works such as the famous Discours de la Méthode published in Leyden in 1637.
It was also in Leyden that Jan de Bisschop studied law from 1648. There, may be through his friend Constantijn Huygens who knew the philosopher, he probably met Descartes. Bisschop mentions him at least once in his correspondence, specifically in a letter dated 12 January 1650 written in Latin from Leyden to Hadrianus Junius to announce Descartes's death in Sweden, J.G. van Gelder 'Jan de Bisschop 1628-1671', Oud Holland, 1971, 4, p. 41, appendix III. That announcement was a bit premature as the philosopher died a month later.
The drawing was listed in Valerius Röver's inventory as Rembrandt under the number Kb 33 52. It was bought along with the rest of the drawings collection by Goll in 1761.
We are grateful to Dr. Hans-Ulrich Beck for his help in cataloguing the present lot.