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November 18, 2021

Antoine Lavoisier

Caption: Portrait of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his Wife by Jacques-Louis David (detail)

The Portrait of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his Wife is a double portrait of the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier and his wife and collaborator Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, commissioned from the French painter Jacques-Louis David in 1788[1] by Marie-Anne (who had been taught drawing by David). It is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.


Caption: The Collège des Quatre-Nations in Paris

The Collège des Quatre-Nations (“College of the Four Nations”), also known as the Collège Mazarin after its founder, was one of the colleges of the historic University of Paris. It was founded through a bequest by the Cardinal Mazarin. At his death in 1661, he also bequeathed his library, the Bibliothèque Mazarine, which he had opened to scholars since 1643, to the Collège des Quatre-Nations.


Caption: Lavoisier conducting an experiment on respiration in the 1770s

Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier (French: [ɑ̃twan lɔʁɑ̃ də lavwazje] UK: /læˈvwʌzieɪ/ lav-WUZ-ee-ay,[1] US: /ləˈvwɑːzieɪ/ lə-VWAH-zee-ay,[2][3]; 26 August 1743 – 8 May 1794),[4] also Antoine Lavoisier after the French Revolution, was a French nobleman and chemist who was central to the 18th-century chemical revolution and who had a large influence on both the history of chemistry and the history of biology.[5] It is generally accepted that Lavoisier’s great accomplishments in chemistry stem largely from his changing the science from a qualitative to a quantitative one. Lavoisier is most noted for his discovery of the role oxygen plays in combustion. He recognized and named oxygen (1778) and hydrogen (1783), and opposed the phlogiston theory. Lavoisier helped construct the metric system, wrote the first extensive list of elements, and helped to reform chemical nomenclature. He predicted the existence of silicon (1787)[6] and discovered that, although matter may change its form or shape, its mass always remains the same.


Caption: Portrait of Lavoisier explaining to his wife the result of his experiments on air by Ernest Board


Caption: Éleuthère Irénée du Pont (right) and mentor Antoine Lavoisier

Éleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours (/djuːˈpɒnt, ˈdjuːpɒnt/;[1] French: [dypɔ̃]; 24 June 1771 – 31 October 1834) was a French-American chemist and industrialist who founded the gunpowder manufacturer E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. His descendants, the du Pont family, have been one of America’s richest and most prominent families since the 19th century, with generations of influential businessmen, politicians and philanthropists. In 1807, du Pont was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in his adopted hometown of Philadelphia.[2]


Caption: Lavoisier, by Jacques-Léonard Maillet, ca 1853, among culture heroes in the Louvre’s Cour Napoléon


Caption: Antoine Lavoisier’s phlogiston experiment. Engraving by Mme Lavoisier in the 1780s taken from Traité Élémentaire de Chimie (Elementary treatise on chemistry)


Caption: Joseph Priestley, an English chemist known for isolating oxygen, which he termed “dephlogisticated air”

Joseph Priestley FRS (/ˈpriːstli/;[4] 24 March 1733 – 6 February 1804) was an English chemist, natural philosopher, separatist theologian, grammarian, multi-subject educator, and liberal political theorist who published over 150 works. He has historically been credited with the independent discovery of oxygen in 1774 by the thermal decomposition of mercuric oxide,[5] having isolated it. Although Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele also has strong claims to the discovery, Priestley published his findings first. Scheele discovered it by heating potassium nitrate, mercuric oxide, and many other substances about 1772.[6]

During his lifetime, Priestley’s considerable scientific reputation rested on his invention of carbonated water, his writings on electricity, and his discovery of several “airs” (gases), the most famous[7] being what Priestley dubbed “dephlogisticated air” (oxygen). Priestley’s determination to defend phlogiston theory and to reject what would become the chemical revolution eventually left him isolated within the scientific community.


Caption: Lavoisier’s Laboratory, Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris

The Musée des Arts et Métiers (French pronunciation: ​[myze dez‿aʁz‿e metje]) (French for Museum of Arts and Crafts) is an industrial design museum in Paris that houses the collection of the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers, which was founded in 1794 as a repository for the preservation of scientific instruments and inventions.


Caption: Lavoisier and Berthollet, Chimistes Celebres, Liebig’s Extract of Meat Company Trading Card, 1929

Claude Louis Berthollet (9 December 1748 – 6 November 1822) was a Savoyard-French chemist who became vice president of the French Senate in 1804.[1] He is known for his scientific contributions to theory of chemical equilibria via the mechanism of reverse chemical reactions, and for his contribution to modern chemical nomenclature. On a practical basis, Berthollet was the first to demonstrate the bleaching action of chlorine gas, and was first to develop a solution of sodium hypochlorite as a modern bleaching agent.


Caption: Lavoisier (wearing goggles) operates his solar furnace to prevent contamination from combustion products.



Caption: Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier by Jules Dalou 1866


Caption: Medal commemorating Franklin and Lavoisier, 2018


Caption: The work of Lavoisier was translated in Japan in the 1840s, through the process of Rangaku. Page from Udagawa Yōan’s 1840 Seimi Kaisō


About Author

Daniel is the Founder and CEO of planksip®, which has a registered Canadian trademark describing a methodology of promoting and propagating thought concepts and intellectual property for non-fiction authors and Academics. As a Science and Philosophy writer, Daniel is an active blogger, author and father of two living on Vancouver Island. As self-described "Flâneur", Daniel draws inspiration for his epistemological schema on topics related to Newtonian Giants, Artificial Intelligence, Free Will, Philosophy, Psychology, Mathematics and Quantum Physics. Phrases like, "driven by Data and propagated through the Praxis of planksip®", summarize his 'modus operandi' of Truth supported by evidence and evolution.

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