Subscribe
Subscribe
MY AMERICAN SCIENTIST
LOG IN! REGISTER!
SEARCH
 
Logo IMG

MARGINALIA

Mme. Lavoisier

Roald Hoffmann

In 1771 Marie Anne Pierrette Paulze was a lively girl of 13. When her mother passed away, the young woman left a convent school to help her father as a hostess. Her vivacity attracted a friend of the family, the 50-year-old Count d'Amerval. A remarkable letter survives in Cornell's Lavoisier collection in which Marie Anne's father diplomatically yet directly declines the Count's proposal.Figure 1. Marie Anne Pierrette Paulze de Lavoisier . . .Click to Enlarge Image

Another suitor was much more welcome. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier had a law degree, but his passion was for science. As a young man, he impressed the French scientific establishment with his geological and chemical research. Lavoisier had just bought a half share in the Ferme Générale—the ancien régime's version of what the Internal Revenue Service might be heading for in some conservative dream—a private company collecting taxes for the crown. Marie Anne's father was one of the leading "Farmers."

Lavoisier was a frequent visitor at the Paulze house. He and Marie Anne played romantic board games, but also spoke of geology, chemistry and astronomy. When the father proposed a marriage, both young people welcomed it. Antoine was 28, Marie Anne 13 when they married. A lovely self-portrait of Mme. Lavoisier survives, which she must have painted not long after.




comments powered by Disqus
 

EMAIL TO A FRIEND :

Subscribe to American Scientist