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Jean-Antoine Chaptal

  Jean-Antoine Claude, comte Chaptal de Chanteloup (June 4, 1756 – July 30, 1832) was a French chemist and statesman.



Early life

Born in Saint-Pierre-de-Nogaret, Lozère, as the son of an apothecary, he studied chemistry at the University of Montpellier, obtaining his doctorate in 1777, when he settled in Paris. In 1781 the States of Languedoc founded a chair of chemistry for him at the school of medicine in Montpellier, where he taught the theories of Antoine Lavoisier. The capital he acquired by the death of a wealthy uncle was employed in the establishment of chemical works for the manufacture of the mineral acids, alum, white-lead, soda and other substances.

His activities in applied science won the recognition of the French government, which presented him with lettres de noblesse, and the cordon of the Ordre de Saint-Michel.


During the French Revolution a publication by Chaptal, entitled Dialogue entre un montagnard et un girondin ("Dialogue between a Montagnard and a Girondist"), caused him to be arrested. He was, however, soon set free through the interventions of his friends. In 1793, he was charged with the management of the saltpetre works at Grenelle. In the following year he went to Montpellier, where he remained until 1797, when he returned to Paris.[1]

Consulate, Empire, and Restoration

After the 18 Brumaire coup (November 9, 1799) he was made a councillor of state by the First Consul, and succeeded Lucien Bonaparte as Minister of the Interior (coinciding with the establishment of the First French Empire), in which capacity he established a chemical manufactory near Paris, a school of arts, and a society of industries; among many works in the fields of science and the arts, he reorganized the hospitals, introduced the metric system. A misunderstanding between him and Napoleon (who conferred upon him the title of count of Chantelout) provoked Chaptal's retirement from office in 1804; but before the end of that year he was again received into favor by the emperor, who awarded him with the grand cross of the Legion of Honor, and made him treasurer to the Senate.

On Napoleon's return from Elba (the Hundred Days), Chaptal was made director-general of commerce and manufactures and a Minister of State. After the Bourbon Restoration, he was forced to withdraw into private life, and his name was removed from the list of the Peers of France until 1819. In 1816, however, he was nominated a member of the French Academy of Sciences by Louis XVIII. He died in Paris.

Scientific works

Chaptal was especially a popularizer of science, attempting to apply to industry and agriculture the discoveries of chemistry. In this way, he contributed largely to the development of modern industry. The process of adding sugar to unfermented wine in order to increase the final alcohol level is known as chaptalization after him.

In addition to various articles, he wrote especially in the Annales de chimie:

  • Élémens de Chymie (3 vols., 1790; new ed., 1796-1803)[2]
  • Traité du salpétre et des goudrons (1796)
  • Tableau des principaux sels terreux (1798)
  • Essai sur le perfectionnement des arts chimiques en France (1800)
  • Art de faire, de gouverner, et de perfectionner les vins (1 vol., 1801; new ed,, 1819)
  • Traité théorsque et pratique sur Ia culture de Ia vigne, &c. (2 vols., 1801; new ed., 1811)
  • Essai sur le blanchiment (1801)
  • La Chimie appliquée aux arts (4 vols., 1806)
  • Art de la peinture du coton en rouge (1807)
  • Art du peinturier et du digraisseur (1800)
  • De l'industrie française (2 vols., 1819)
  • Chimie appliquée à l'Agriculture (2 vols., 1823; new ed., 1829).


  1. ^ Jean-Antoine Chaptal - Catholic Encyclopedia article
  2. ^ Éléments de chimie - SICD University of Strasbourg - digital issue


  • Paul, Harry W. (2002) "Chapter 5: Jean-Antoine Chaptal" Science, Vine and Wine in Modern France Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 123-154, ISBN 0521525217

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

Preceded by
Lucien Bonaparte
Minister of the Interior
1800 - 1804
Succeeded by
Jean-Baptiste Nompère de Champagny
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Jean-Antoine_Chaptal". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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