Constantijn Huygens

Antony's: 
friend and colleague
Baptism date: 
September 4, 1596
Burial date: 
March 28, 1687

The Huygens family, diplomat and poet Constantijn along with his sons Christiaan and Constantijn jr., were the leading intellectual family in the Dutch Republic. After an initial period of skepticism in the 1670's, Constantijn and Christiaan were soon vouching for Leeuwenhoek in London and Paris and became his most important Dutch supporters.

Constantijn Huygens worked in Den Haag, but he lived at Hofwick in Voorburg, just four miles up the Vliet canal from Delft. He visited and corresponded with Leeuwenhoek, especially early in his career. Leeuwenhoek wrote seven letters to Constantijn Huygens, listed below.

In 1686, Huygens wrote the poem attached to Verkolje's portrait of Leeuwenhoek.

Daer leeft een aerdigh Man, een vaerdigh man, en gauw,
Die wisse wondren teelt, en heeft natur' in 'tnauw,
Doorkruijpt all haer geheim, en opent all' haer' sloten:
Syn' Glase Sleuteltjens en isser geen ontsloten,
Noch kan ontschieten. Dit's die dappre man niet, maer
Siet scherp toe, die hem soeckt, 'tgelyckt hem op een haer.

The portrait on the right by Caspar Netscher (click to enlarge) shows Huygens at age 76 in 1672, around the time he began visiting Leeuwenhoek. Both of them lived into their 91st year.