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Antoine François, comte de Fourcroy

Antoine François, comte de Fourcroy (June 15, 1755 – December 16, 1809), was a French chemist and a contemporary of Antoine Lavoisier. Fourcroy collaborated with Lavoisier, Guyton de Morveau, and Claude Berthollet on the Méthode de Nomenclature Chimique (Paris, 1787), a work that helped standardize chemical nomenclature.


Life and work

Fourcroy was born at Paris, the son of an apothecary in the household of the Duke of Orleans. On the advice of the anatomist Félix Vicq-d'Azyr he took up medical studies (1748-1794), and after many difficulties caused by lack of means he finally, in 1780, obtained his doctor's diploma. Fourcroy's attention was turned specifically to chemistry by J. B. M. Bucquet (1746-1780), the professor of chemistry at the Medical School of Paris. In 1784 Fourcroy was chosen to succeed P. J. Macquer (1718-1784) as lecturer in chemistry at the college of the Jardin du Roi, where his lectures attained great popularity.

Fourcroy was one of the earliest converts to the views of Lavoisier, which he helped to promulgate by his own voluminous writings. The Royal Society's Catalogue of Scientific Papers enumerates fifty-nine memoirs by Fourcroy alone, and fifty-eight written with others, mostly LN Vauquelin. Fourcroy's 1785 publication, Entomologia Parisiensis, sive, Catalogus insectorum quae in agro Parisiensi reperiuntur ..., co-written with Étienne Louis Geoffroy, was a major contribution to systematic entomology.

However, although Fourcroy's name appears on a large number of chemical and also physiological and pathological memoirs, he was as much a teacher and an organizer as an original investigator. While a member of the committees for public instruction and public safety, and later, under Napoleon, director-general of instruction, Fourcroy took a leading part in the establishment of schools for both primary and secondary education, scientific studies being especially provided for.

Fourcroy died at Paris on the 16th of December 1809, the very day on which he had been created a count of the French empire. He is buried in the Père-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.


By his conduct as a member of the Convention, Fourcroy has been accused of contributing to Lavoisier's death. Baron Cuvier, in his Eloge historique of Fourcroy, repelled such charges. The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition says that although active, though secret, participation cannot be proved against Fourcroy, he can scarcely be acquitted of time-serving indifference. See the works in the Bibliography below for other opinions.


  • Fourcroy, A. The Philosophy of Chemistry (1792)
  • Fourcroy, A. A General System of Chemical Knowledge (11 volumes, 1801–1802)
  • Kersaint, G. Mémoires du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Antoine François de Fourcroy, sa vie et son oeuvre, Editions du Muséum, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1966, p. 59
  • Smeaton, W. "Fourcroy, 1755 -1809",Heffer & Sons, Cambridge, 1962, p. 58 - Discusses reasonable evidence that Fourcroy not only saved several physicians/scientists but also that he tried to save Lavoisier at the cost of his own safety


  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

NAME Fourcroy, Antoine François, comte de
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Fourcroy, Antoine François de;Fourcroy, Antoine-François
DATE OF BIRTH 15 June 1755
DATE OF DEATH 17 December 1809
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Antoine_François,_comte_de_Fourcroy". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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