Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from K-O

Lavoisier, Marie Anne Pierrette

marriage scientific laboratory estate

née Paulze [lavwazyay] (1758–1836) French illustrator, translator and assistant to Lavoisier.

Marie Paulze’s mother was a niece of the Abbé Terray, France’s controller general of finance in 1771 and one of the most powerful men of the kingdom. Terray proposed a marriage between the 13-year-old Marie and the 50-year-old penniless brother of a valued acquaintance. To save her from this unwelcome alliance Marie’s father, a parliamentary lawyer and financier, quickly arranged a marriage for her with a colleague in the Ferme Générale, the 28-year-old . It was to be a very successful marriage.

Marie Lavoisier assisted her husband’s scientific work; she became his laboratory assistant, kept the laboratory records, made sketches of his experiments and illustrated his classic Traité de chimie (1789, Elementary Treatise on Chemistry). Marie Lavoisier was a skilled artist, engraver and painter, having studied under Louis David (1748–1825) (who painted the only known portrait of Lavoisier from life). She learned English, and sought tuition in Latin from her brother, in order to translate the new chemical treatises from England, which included the works of ; Lavoisier was not a good linguist.

Because of his involvement with the Ferme Générale (a tax-gathering consortium) Antoine Lavoisier was arrested and imprisoned during the ‘Terror’ in November 1793. His estate was confiscated, including his library and laboratory instruments. Marie was imprisoned, but later released, and took refuge with a family servant. Despite her efforts to gain his release and the difficulty the National Convention faced in finding a supportable charge, Lavoisier was executed in May 1794, together with Marie’s father.

Marie Lavoisier clearly understood the position her husband should hold in science and was determined that his reputation should not be overlooked and his claims should be known and recognized. She petitioned for the return of the estate and, having obtained his books and papers, she edited and privately published Lavoisier’s unfinished memoirs. She presented copies to the great scientific societies and eminent scientists around Europe.

Marie Lavoisier blamed friends and scientific associates of Lavoisier, especially members of the Convention, for not protesting against her husband’s imprisonment and for not pointing out his past valuable work for France and his future scientific worth. Bitterly, she held them responsible for his death.

She again opened her home as a meeting place to the leaders of science in France, to DELAMBRE and others; she did not receive those who had failed to use their political influence to try to save her husband.

In 1805 Marie married Benjamin Thompson, Count , but the marriage was not a success and they separated 4 years later.

Law and Justice [next] [back] Lavoisier, Antoine Laurent

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or