French philosopher René Descartes lived in Holland from 1628 to 1649; his famous Discourse on Method (1637) and other works were written there. In 1647, he was at the height of his fame. His finely gloved hand projects over the frame into our space. This illusionistic motif, favored by the portraitist Pieter Nason, brings the figure vividly to life. Two years later, Descartes left Holland for the court of Queen Christina of Sweden, where he died in 1650.