Happy Valentine’s Day! Here is a scientific love story of Marie Anne and Antoine Lavoisier. They married in 1771 and settled in Paris, where Antoine could establish his own lab to follow his interests in chemistry. Marie Anne became interested in scientific actions and joined him in the lab as assistant. She was formally trained by their colleagues. She accompanied his wife in the lab, illustrating diagrams of his experiments, and taking notes of their observations. As she was proficient in English, French and Latin languages, she translated various scientific manuscripts.
Her most valuable translation was that of Richard Kirwan’s “Essay on Phlogiston and the Constitution of Acids”, in which she added her own comments to mention the errors in chemistry. Her work convinced Lavoisier to perform their own experiment, which ultimately led to the discovery of oxygen. After Antoine was executed by the revolutionaries, Marie Anne organized the publication of Lavoisier’s final memoirs, “Mémoires de Chimie”, which included the principles of modern chemistry. Madam Lavoisier kept his name for the rest of his life.
Portrait by Jacques Louis David,1788