February 10, 1836 – Death of Madame Lavoisier, the “mother of modern chemistry”

At the age of 13, she was asked to marry the Count of Amerval, who was three times her age. Her father, a financial and parliamentary lawyer tried to oppose her, but he was threatened with losing her job if he refused. So she consulted with one of her colleagues and friend, Antoine Laurente Lavoisier, who was 28 years old, was a nobleman, a lawyer, an economist and a chemist if he was willing to marry his daughter. He accepted and they were married on December 16, 1771.

The Lavoisier couple moved in 1775 to Paris. Marie-Anne began to take an interest in chemistry, to get involved in Antoine's scientific research and to actively participate in the work of the laboratory that the couple had built. Marie-Anne began her formal training in the field of chemistry with two of Antoine's colleagues, Jean-Baptiste Bucquet and Philippe Gingembre.

It was customary to see the Lavoisiers spend most of their free time together in the laboratory, working as a team. Marie-Anne assisted her husband, writing down observations, drawing diagrams of his experimental designs, which was very helpful in understanding Antoine's methods and results, and organizing and editing reports.

Both remade the field of chemistry, which until then was dominated by the idea of phlogiston, coming from alchemistry, spread by Georg Stahl. It was considered to be a fire-like element that was released during combustion, and this concept was used to describe the apparent properties of the changes that matter underwent when burned. Marie-Anne herself was fluent in English, Latin and French and did translations on various works related to phlogiston. Perhaps, the most important translation of it has been that of the publication "Essay on Phlogiston" by Richard Kirwan, since at the same time Madame Lavoisier criticized it, adding footnotes in which she pointed out the chemical errors of the work. It was his translations and his comments that led Antoine to be convinced that the phlogiston hypothesis was incorrect and to direct his investigations towards combustion and the discovery of oxygen.

Throughout her life, Marie-Anne kept the surname Lavoisier, showing her devotion to it and receiving the nickname "mother of modern chemistry" because she was directly involved in the creation and modeling of the ideas that separated alchemy from a modern, rational and exact science.

If you want to know more about this scientist, click on the following link: Marie-Anne Lavoisier

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