Clerc, Sebastian Le

, an eminent designer and engraver, was born at Metz, in 1637, of a family in such an humble condition, that he entered while very young into the abbey of St. Arnould, in that city, in quality of helper in the kitchen. He had such a natural talent for drawing, that all the moments of leisure he could get from his employment he Hlled up in making little portraits with a pen on such scraps of paper as he found about the kitchen. The prior of the house caught him one day occupied in this manner; and, on examining his performance, perceived in it such marks of genius as allowed him not to doubt that young Le Clerc would attain to excellence if assisted by art. He immediately took the resolution to cultivate his natural talents, put the crayon into his hand, and gave him to the care of one of the monks, with orders to get him instructed. At ten years old he could handle the graver. At the same time he applied himself to the study of geometry, perspective, fortification, and architecture, in which he made as rapid a progress as in drawing and engraving. Marshal de la Ferte made choice of him for his geographical engineer; Louis XIV. for his engraver in ordinary, at the solicitation of Colbert; and pope Clement XI. honoured him with the title of a Roman knight. In addition to this superior merit, and this strong capacity for the arts, Le Clerc had kind affections and an insinuating address. He died at Paris the 25th of October, 1714, at the age of seventy-seven. This master treated every subject with equal excellence; as landscapes, architecture, ornaments, discovering a lively and glowing imagination kept under due restraint, a correctness of design, a wonderful fertility, and elegant expression and execution. The productions of his graver, amounting to upwards of 3000, would have been sufficient of themselves to have gained him great reputation, independently of those of his pen. The principal of the latter kind are: 1. “A Treatise of Theoretic and Practical Geometry,” reprinted in 174-5, 8vo, with the life of the author. Colbert, informed of the success of this work, ordered Le Clerc a pension of 600 crowns, and apartments in the Gobelins. But he presently after gave up this pension, which confined him to the | king’s service, in order to work more freely, and on subjects of his own choice. 2. “A Treatise on Architecture,” 12 vols. 4to. 3. “A Discourse on Perspective,” in which the author shews a profound knowledge of his subject. After Callot, he is the engraver who has most distinctly shewn five or six leagues extent of country in a small space.

He had a son of both his names, who was born in 1677, studied historical painting under Bon Boulogne, and became a painter of some note, if we can judge from the number of prints engraved from his works. There is an altar picture by him at the abbey church at Paris, representing the death of Ananias. He was made a member of the royal academy of Paris in 1704, and died, aged eighty-six, in 1763. Another of his sons, Laurent Josse le Clerc, was a man of considerable learning, and published three volumes of remarks on Moreri’s Dictionary, which contributed to improve that work, and compiled the “Bibliotheque des Auteurs cites dans le Dictionnaire cle llichelet,” which was printed with it in the Lyons edition, 1729, 3 vols. fol. but omitted in the 4to Amsterdam edition. He wrote several essays in the literary journals of the time, and died May 6, 1736, in the fifty-ninth year of his age. 1

1 See the Catalogue raisonne de l'œuvre de Sebastien le Clerc, with his life, by M. Jombert, Paris, 1775, 3 vols. 8vo, a very curious and interesting work. —Moreri, —Strutt.