Nicaise, Claude

, a celebrated French antiquary ia the seventeenth century, was descended of a good family at Dijon, where his brother was proctor-general of the chamber of accounts, and born in 1623. Being inclined to the church, he became an ecclesiastic, and was made a canon in the holy chapel at Dijon but devoted himself wholly to the study and knowledge of antique monuments. Having laid a proper foundation of learning at home, he resigned his canonry, and went to Rome, where he resided many years; and, after his return to France, he held a correspondence with almost all the learned men in Europe. Perhaps there never was a man of letters, who had so frequent and extensive a commerce with the learned men of his time as the abbe Nicaise, nor with men of high rank. The cardinals Barbarigo and Noris, and pope Clement XL were among his regular correspondents. This learned intercourse took up a great part of his time, and hindered him from enriching the public with any large works; but the letters which he wrote himself, and those which he received from others, would make a valuable “Commercium Epistolicum.” The few pieces which he published are, a Latin dissertation “De Nummo Pantheo,” dedicated to Mr. Spanheim, and printed at Lyons in 1689. The same | year he published an explication of an antique monument found at Guienne, in the diocese of Aach; but the piece which made the greatest noise was “Les Sirenes, ou discours sur leur forme et figure,Paris, 1691, 4to; “A discourse upon the form and figure of the Syrens,” in which, following the opinion of Huet, bishop of Auvranches, he Undertook to prove, that they were, in reality, birds, and not fishes, or sea-monsters. He translated into French, from the Italian, a piece of Bellori, containing a description of the pictures in the Vatican, to which he added, “A Dissertation upon the Schools of Athens and Parnassus,” two of Raphael’s pictures. He wrote also a few letters in the literary journals, and a small tract upon the Ancient music; and died while he was labouring to present the public with the explanation of that antique inscription which begins “Mercurio et Minervæ Arneliæ, &c.” which was found in the village of Villy, where he died in Oct. 1701, aged 78. 1