Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier

Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier

date of birth : 26/08/1743 | date of death : 08/05/1794
Born on August 26, 1743, France, Chemist, Philosopher, nobleman, It is generally accepted that Lavoisier's great accomplishments in chemistry largely stem from the fact that he changed the science from a qualitative to a quantitative one.

Birth, Birthplace, Time of birth:

He was born in Paris, France on the 26th of August 1743.

Father's name: Jean-Antoine Lavoisier
Mother's name: Emilie Punctis
Spouse: Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze
Children: none

Reputation, fame, nickname:

Antoine Lavoisier

Personal Information:

Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight

Life events:

Early life and education

Historians view Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier as the father of modern chemistry. Lavoisier was also an eminent physiologist. Lavoisier was born into a wealthy family on 26th August 1743. He inherited a large family fortune at the age of five when his mother died. Lavoisier was educated at the respected Collège Mazarin where he specialised in mathematics, botany, astronomy and chemistry. Lavoisier was highly influenced by Etienne Condillac and by the French Enlightenment movement in general. He gained a reputation for ability and was elected to the French Academy of Science in 1768 aged just 25. Lavoisier’s work covered geology, street lighting and chemistry where he studied the impact of rusting. He spent a great deal of his time studying the physiology of respiration.

Scientific work

Lavoisier’s work was greatly helped by the fact that the gases involved in respiration had already been identified and categorised by others. Joseph Black had isolated carbon dioxide in 1757; in 1766 Henry Cavendish had isolated hydrogen while in 1772, Daniel Rutherford had isolated nitrogen. In the same years as Rutherford’s discovery, Joseph Priestly had isolated oxygen. But it was Lavoisier who discovered the true nature of respiration when he found that it was a process whereby oxygen is taken up by blood in the lungs. He showed that respiration was a process of combustion, with the utilisation of oxygen and the production of carbon dioxide. Lavoisier used his findings to push for better public health in cities and towns. He based his arguments around his belief that people who lived in a crowded conurbation needed a certain amount of good clean air to live a decent life. Ironically, his drive to help the poor in the cities came at a time of upheaval in France – the French Revolution. For anyone with an aristocratic background, the times became very dangerous. Lavoisier was arrested during the French Revolution and accused of selling watered-down tobacco. However, it was thought that his real crime was to be an investor in a private tax collection company (Ferme Générale). The company had not been popular with the general public in France as it made its profits from the collection of taxes. This put him in a very difficult position during the Revolution. His work as a scientist was brushed aside and he was primarily tried as an ‘enemy of the people’ – using his position to exploit those who were the easiest to exploit. It did not help Lavoisier’s cause that he also sat on a number of aristocratic committees that were deemed to have been set up to maintain their standard of living at the expense of the poor. Lavoisier’s main protagonist was Jean-Paul Marat, a leading figure in the so-called Reign of Terror. In previous years, Lavoisier had publicly belittled an invention of Marat's and Lavoisier’s arrest gave Marat the opportunity he needed for revenge. It is probable that once arrested Lavoisier had little chance of avoiding the guillotine. Marat portrayed him as a man who as an investor in the Ferme Générale had bled white the poor. Appeals for his life were ignored. A revolutionary judge stated that Revolutionary France had no need for scientists. Antoine Lavoisier was executed by guillotine on May 8th 1794.


He was educated at the College des Quatre-Nations (also known as College Mazarin) from 1754 to 1761, studying chemistry, botany, astronomy, and mathematics.

Occupation and Career:

Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier the "father of modern chemistry,” was a French nobleman prominent in the histories of chemistry and biology.
He assisted J. E. Guettard (1715-1786) in preparing his mineralogical atlas of France. In 1768, recognized as a man who had both the ability and the means for a scientific career, he was nominated adjoint chemist to the Academy, and in that capacity made numerous reports on the most diverse subjects, from the theory of colors to water-supply and from invalid chairs to mesmerism and the divining rod. The same year he obtained the position of adjoint to Baudon, one of the farmers-general of the revenue, subsequently becoming a full titular member of the body. This was the first of a series of posts in which his administrative abilities found full scope. Appointed régisseur des poudres in 1775, he not only abolished the vexatious search for saltpeter in the cellars of private houses, but increased the production of the salt and improved the manufacture of gunpowder. In 1785 he was nominated to the committee on agriculture, and as its secretary drew up reports and instructions on the cultivation of various crops, and promulgated schemes for the establishment of experimental agricultural stations, the distribution of agricultural implements and the adjustment of rights of pasturage. Seven years before he had started a model farm at Férchine, where he demonstrated the advantages of scientific methods of cultivation and of the introduction of good breeds of cattle and sheep. Chosen a member of the provincial assembly of Orleans in 1787, he busied himself with plans for the improvement of the socioeconomic conditions of the community by means of savings banks, insurance societies, canals, workhouses, etc.; and he showed the sincerity of his philanthropical work by advancing money out of his own pocket, without interest, to the towns of Blois and Romorantin, for the purchase of barley during the famine of 1788. Attached in this same year to the caisse d'escompte, he presented the report of its operations to the national assembly in 1789, and as commissary of the treasury in 1792 he established a system of accounts of unexampled punctuality. He was also asked by the national assembly to draw up a new scheme of taxation in connection with which he produced a report De la richesse territoriale de la France, and he was further associated with committees on hygiene, coinage the casting of cannon, etc., and was secretary and treasurer of the commission appointed in 1790 to secure uniformity of weights and measures.

Awards /Honors:

In 1766 he received a gold medal from the Academy of Sciences for an essay on the best means of lighting a large town. Asteroid Namesake 6826 Lavoisier. A Lavoisier Medal is an award made by any of a number of bodies, for achievements in chemical related disciplines. The award is named for Antoine Lavoisier, considered by some to be a father of modern chemistry.


  • Sur la Combustion en General (1777)
  • Considérations Générales sur la Nature des Acides (1778)
  • Reflexions sur le Phlogistique (1783)
  • Méthode de Nomenclature Chimique (1787)
  • Traité Élémentaire de Chimie (1789)
  • Death, place of death, Time of death, place of burial:
  • Antoine Lavoisier was executed by guillotine on May 8th 1794 in Paris, France. He buried in Cimetière de Picpus, Paris, France.

Quotes and Memoirs:

  • “A man cannot live more than 24 hours unless he has at least three cubic meters of air that is being constantly replaced.”
  • “He is better known for what he has promised to the sciences than for what he as actually done for them.”
  • “It is almost possible to predict one or two days in advance, within a rather broad range of probability, what the weather is going to be; it is even thought that it will not be impossible to publish daily forecasts, which would be very useful to society”
  • “Since it is the very substance of the animal, it is the blood which transports the fuel.If the animal did not habitually replace, through nourishing themselves,what they losethrough respiration, the lamp would very soon run out of oil and the animal would perish, just as the lamp goes out when it lacks fuel.”
  • “It took them only an instant to cut of that head, but it is unlikely that a hundred years will suffice to reproduce a singular one.”
  • “Languages are true analytical methods. Algebra, the means of expression which is the simplest, most exact and best adapted to its object, is both a language and an analytical method. In short, the art of reasoning can be reduced to a well-constructed”
  • “I consider nature a vast chemical laboratory in which all kinds of composition and decompositions are formed. Vegetation is the basic instrument the creator uses to set all of nature in motion.