Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794) was the founder of modern chemistry. He invested much of his wealth, accumulated through its function as an administrator of the “Ferme Generale”, to achieve, by the best builders of his time, scientific instruments which made the reputation of his lab. Between 1785
and 1787, he made built by Megna, two large gas-holders to experiment with the synthesis of water. With his precision scales, he weights the two gases – hydrogen and oxygen – which he then introduces into a flask to mix them. Under the action of an electrical spark, he obtains a few grams of water. It thus
demonstrates the law of conservation of mass.
In the laboratory of Lavoisier presented at the Museum of Arts and Crafts, visitors can see the gasometers and the ball with which Lavoisier realized the famous experiment of the synthesis of water in 1785. Visitors can also discover, among other things, the calorimeters, the mirrors, the balance of Fortin and personal objects of Mr. Lavoisier.
Beyond the instigator of the “chemical revolution” of the eighteenth century, Lavoisier was an inquisitive scientist, deeply inspired by the Enlightenment. His laboratory shows us a few aspects: a meteorologist, geologist, heating engineer and physiologist, he was everywhere the same modern spirit of rigor in the method and accuracy in measurements.
His wife Marie-Anne Lavoisier was an important figure in the life of Mr. Lavoisier. She helped him in his research, and she has translated an important number of works of her husband, including the “Treaty of chemistry”, that made him become famous in Europe. Lavoisier was guillotined in 1794 during the
French Revolution. After his death, Mrs Lavoisier fought to recover the scientific instruments of her husband that had been confiscated by the revolutionaries. When she was back in their possession, she donated them to the French Academy. Thanks and following to this donation, the instruments of Lavoisier
are now part of the Museum’s collection of Arts and Crafts.