Imaging the Experiments on Respiration and Transpiration of Lavoisier and Séguin: Two Unknown Drawings by Madame Lavoisier

in Nuncius
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This paper presents two hitherto unknown drawings by Marie-Anne-Pierrette Lavoisier dating to the early 1790s that illustrate the experiments on respiration and transpiration of her husband Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his assistant Armand Séguin. These works may be associated with the well-known sepia drawings that were published for the first time by Edouard Grimaux in 1888. Details contained in these newly discovered drawings by M.me Lavoisier provide fresh evidence as to the nature and aims of Lavoisier’s innovative experiments. As we will show, these drawings were intended to illustrate the collection of papers on respiration being prepared by Lavoisier for his Mémoires de physique et de chimie (1792-1805).

Imaging the Experiments on Respiration and Transpiration of Lavoisier and Séguin: Two Unknown Drawings by Madame Lavoisier

in Nuncius

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References

1

Frederic Lawrence HolmesLavoisier and the Chemistry of Life. An Exploration of Scientific Creativity (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press1985) pp. 6-17. On Lavoisier’s theory of respiration see also Everett I. Mendelsohn Heat and Life: The Development of the Theory of Animal Heat (Harvard: Harvard University Press 1964) and Charles A. Culotta “Respiration and the Lavoisier Tradition: Theory and Modification 1777-1850” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 1972 62/3:3-41. For an accurate and original contextualisation of Lavoisier’s theory of respiration in Europe between 1780 and 1815 see the excellent PhD thesis by Angela Bandinelli Dal soffio vitale all’ossigeno. Contributi della chimica antiflogistica all’indagine sul vivente tra Sette e Ottocento francese (Florence: Università degli Studi di Firenze 2000).

8

Armand Séguin“Observations générales sur la respiration et sur le chaleur animale,” Observations sur la physique1790-92 37:467-472. The memoir was read before the Société Royale de Médecine on May 22 1790.

18

Maurice DaumasLavoisier théoricien et expérimentateur (Paris: PUF1955) p. 65.

23

The memoir was only published in 1814: Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier Armand Séguin “Second mémoire sur la transpiration” Annales de chimie 1814 90:5-28. This paper was not included in Lavoisier’s Œuvres.

33

Johann Peter PrinzDie experimentelle Methode der ersten Gasstoffwechseluntersuchungen am ruhenden und quantifiziert belasteten Menschen (A.L. Lavoisier und A. Séguin 1790). Versuch einer kritischen Deutung (Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag1992); Id. “Lavoisier’s Experimental Method and his Research on Human Respiration” in Lavoisier in Perspective edited by Marco Beretta (Munich: Deutsches Museum 2005) pp. 43-52. See also Yves Noël “Commentaire sur les dessins de Madame Lavoisier” in Lavoisier Correspondance Vol. 6 (cit. note 20) pp. 437-438.

Figures

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    Lavoisier’s burning mirror. Archives de l’Académie des Sciences – Paris. Dossier Lavoisier. Registres de laboratoire, Vol. 1, fol. 19 recto.

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    Archives de l’Académie des Sciences – Paris. Dossier Lavoisier. Registres de laboratoire, Vol. 1, fol. 20 recto.

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    Engraving of the optical pyrometer devised by Laplace and Lavoisier, which can be linked to the text in the first volume of the Mémoires de physique et chimie (1805) at pages 246-280. The engraving is drawn from the 6th volume of Lavoisier’s Oeuvres (Paris, 1893).

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    Madame Lavoisier’s drawing of an experiment on respiration in a subject at rest (ca. 1790) (private collection).

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    Johann Peter Prinz’s reconstruction of Lavoisier’s circulatory respiration apparatus.

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    Madame Lavoisier’s drawing of an experiment on respiration at work (ca. 1790) (private collection).

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    A man seated with his head inside in a glass container (ca. 1790) (Wellcome Library).

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    A man being weighed on a large set of scales (ca. 1790) (Wellcome Library).

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    The scale invented by Santorio Santorio to weigh the loss of fluids during transpiration, in an engraving of 1710.

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