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Victor Audouin (1797-1841), French zoologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay
Victor Audouin (1797-1841), French zoologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

The busts of the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution

Discover the 27 busts on the monumental staircases of the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution and each of the corresponding biographies.

Victor Audouin (1797-1841), French zoologist

Marble bust by Léon Blanchot (1868-1947)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Victor Audouin (1797-1841), French zoologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

A medical student, Victor Audouin helped to draft the Dictionnaire classique d’histoire naturelle [Classical Dictionary of Natural History] (1822) and founded the journal Les Annales des Sciences naturelles [Annals of Natural Sciences] (1824). Appointed a naturalist assistant at the Museum in 1826, he then became chair of crustaceans and insects in 1833 and was appointed to the Académie des sciences [French Academy of Sciences] in 1838. He studied the marine fauna of the coasts of Normandy and Brittany with Milne-Edwards, and published Histoire naturelle du littoral de la France [A Natural History of France’s Coastline] (1832). He also worked on snout moths, which were damaging Mâconnais vines, posthumously publishing Histoire des insectes nuisibles à la vigne [A history of insects harmful to vines] (1842).
 

Antoine César Becquerel (1788-1878), French physicist

Marble bust by Luc Labadie (1878-1962)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Antoine César Becquerel (1788-1878), French physicist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

After studying at École Polytechnique [Polytechnic School], Antoine Becquerel took part in the Napoleonic campaigns. In 1815, he dedicated himself to science. He was elected a member of the Académie des sciences (1829) and became chair of Physics at the Museum (1837). Four generations of Becquerels succeeded him up until 1948: Antoine, Edmond, Henri and Jean. Antoine Becquerel published Traité de l’électricité et du magnétisme [Electricity and Magnetism Textbook] in seven volumes (1834-1840) and Traité de physique appliquée à la chimie et aux sciences naturelles [Physics applied to Chemistry and Natural Sciences Textbook] in two volumes (1847).
 

Antoine Henri Becquerel (1852-1908), French physicist

Marble bust by Jean-Louis Bozzi (1860 –1946)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Antoine Henri Becquerel (1852-1908), French physicist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming from a line of physicists, Henri Becquerel worked on electrochemical and magnetic phenomena, focussing his studies on phosphorescence in particular. Very interested by Roentgen’s X-rays, in 1896 he discovered that uranium spontaneously emits radiation, something which was previously unknown. Marie Curie carried out her thesis on these uranic rays and named them radioactivity. A professor at the École polytechnique (1895-1908), chair of physics at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle (1892) and president of the Académie des sciences (1908), in 1903 Henri Becquerel shared the Nobel Prize for physics with Pierre and Marie Curie.
 

Gabriel Bibron (1805-1848), French naturalist

Marble bust by Firmin Bate
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Gabriel Bibron (1805-1848), French naturalist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1832 Gabriel Bibron became a naturalist assistant to the chair of reptiles and fish at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle: he assisted André Marie Constant Duméril with his teaching and helped to draft his Erpétologie générale ou Histoire naturelle complète des reptiles [General Herpetology or Complete Natural History of Reptiles] (1834-1854). Auguste Duméril replaced him when he died of tuberculosis.
 

Émile Blanchard (1819-1900), French naturalist and zoologist

Marble bust by Ernest Charles Molière Jetot (1845 - 1900)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Émile Blanchard (1819-1900), French naturalist and zoologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting as a sous-assistant naturalist at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle, he then became an assistant naturalist to Milne-Edwards in 1841, who was the chair of crustaceans and insects at the time. He accompanied him to Sicily to study marine fauna (1844). Author of Histoire des insectes [A History of Insects] (1845), Zoologie agricole [Agricultural Zoology] (1854-1856) and Atlas de l’anatomie des invertébrés [An Atlas of Invertebrate Anatomy] (1852-1864), in 1862 he was appointed chair of crustaceans and insects at the Museum and member of the Académie des sciences [French Academy of Sciences].
 

Charles François Brisseau de Mirbel (1776-1854), French botanist

Marble bust by Gabriel Zimmermann (1877–19?)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Charles François Brisseau de Mirbel (1776-1854), French botanist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joining the Museum at the age of 22 as an assistant naturalist, Charles François Brisseau de Mirbel studied the circulation of fluids and living cells of plants. The 1802 publication of Traité d’anatomie et physiologie végétale [Plant Physiology and Anatomy Textbook] made him one of the founders of plant cytology and physiology. Intendant of the Malmaison gardens (1803-1805), he became a member of the Institute in 1808 and professor of botany in the Faculty of Sciences. A politician during the Bourbon Restoration period (1817-1820), he became the chair of cultures at the Museum in 1825, a position he held until 1850.
 

Maxime Cornu (1843-1901), French botanist and horticulturist

Marble bust by Léopold Savine (1861 –1934)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Maxime Cornu (1843-1901), French botanist and horticulturist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following a doctorate in Science in 1872, Maxime Cornu became an assistant naturalist at the Museum (1874). He conducted research in Cryptogamy, worked on “vine mildew” (Plasmopara viticola), and took part in the Phylloxera-puceron Commission (phylloxera was damaging French vines at the time). Appointed chair of cultures at the Museum in 1884, he reorganised the gardens and greenhouses in the Jardin des Plantes (Garden of Plants) and developed conservation techniques for seeds to better preserve plant species.

Adolphe d’Archiac (1802-1868), French geologist and paleontologist

Marble bust by Frédéric Hexamer (1847–1924)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Adolphe d’Archiac (1802-1868), French geologist and paleontologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

After beginning his career in the military, he dedicated himself to geology from 1830. He carried out many stratigraphic and palaeontological studies, studying the geological formation of France, Belgium and England. He also analysed written works on geology, publishing a history of the progress of geology from 1834 to 1859 (1847-1960). President of the société géologique de France [French Geological Society] and elected a member of the Académie des sciences in 1857, he was also appointed chair of paleontology at the Museum in 1861.

Gabriel Auguste Daubrée (1814-1896), French geologist and geochemist

Marble bust by Jean Jules Frère (1851–1906)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Gabriel Auguste Daubrée (1814-1896), French geologist and geochemist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a mining engineer, from 1838 Auguste Daubrée headed the Haut-Rhin mines before becoming a professor of mineralogy and geology at the Faculty of Science in Strasbourg, and then chair of geology at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle in 1861. His research focussed on the geology of the Bas-Rhin, on the tin and iron ore deposits, and was characterised by the use of experimental methods, a pioneering approach in France. A teacher at the Ecole des mines from 1862, he became the director in 1872, a position he held until 1884.

Armand David, known as le Père David (1826-1900), French zoologist and botanist

Marble bust by Blanche Adèle Moria (1859 –1927)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Armand David, known as le Père David (1826-1900), French zoologist and botanist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

After studying theology and naturalism, Père David became a Lazarist missionary and was sent to Beijing in 1862, where he began to collect specimens of Chinese flora and fauna, sending the most significant ones to the Museum d’histoire naturelle in Paris. In view of the quality of what he was sending, he was officially given the task of travelling across China with the aim of enriching the Museum’s collections. Père David discovered animal and plant species that were previously unheard of in Europe, such as the Giant Panda, Père David's deer and buddleia (butterfly bush).
 

Gérard Paul Deshayes (1795-1875), French geologist and zoologist

Marble bust by Jacques Ternois (1861-19 ?)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Gérard Paul Deshayes (1795-1875), French geologist and zoologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

After studying medicine, Gérard Paul Deshayes devoted himself to natural history and studied at the Museum. He specialised in the study of fossil shells, particularly Tertiary molluscs from the Basin of Paris. He compared fossils with modern species and assisted Charles Lyell (1797-1875) with classifying the tertiary fossils. The author of a number of publications, including Traité élémentaire de conchyliologie [Elementary Conchology Textbook] (1839-1858) and Mollusque d’Algérie [Mollusc of Algeria] (1848), he was also appointed chair of annelids, molluscs and zoophytes of the Museum in 1869.
 

André Marie Constant Duméril (1774-1860), French naturalist and zoologist

Marble bust by Fabio Stecchi (1855-1928)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

André Marie Constant Duméril (1774-1860), French naturalist and zoologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

After studying medicine, Constant Duméril studied anatomy and botany and in 1801 he became a Professor of Comparative Anatomy at the faculty. In 1813, he created the first reptile menagerie at the Jardin des plantes. After becoming a member of the Institute in 1816, he published Erpétologie générale ou Histoire naturelle complète des reptiles [General Herpetology or Complete Natural History of Reptiles] (1834-1854) with Bibron, his assistant naturalist. Upon his death, his son Auguste succeeded him at the Museum.

Auguste Duméril (1812-1870), French zoologist

Marble bust by Edouard Houssin (1847-1917)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Auguste Duméril (1812-1870), French zoologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following his studies in medicine and science, in 1848 Auguste Duméril became an assistant naturalist to the chair of reptiles and fish at the Museum, with his father Constant Duméril. He collaborated with him on Erpétologie générale ou Histoire naturelle complète des reptiles [General Herpetology or Complete Natural History of Reptiles] (1834-1854), later succeeding him as chair in 1857. He published Histoire naturelle des poissons ou Ichtyologie générale [Natural History of Fish or General Ichthyology] in two volumes (1865, 1870) and in 1869 he was elected as a member of the Académie des sciences.

Henri-Marie Ducrotay de Blainville (1777-1850), French naturalist and zoologist

Marble bust by Charles-Hubert Robert-Champigny (18 ?-19 ?)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Henri-Marie Ducrotay de Blainville (1777-1850), French naturalist and zoologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following his studies in medicine, Cuvier took him on as a substitute at the Collège de France and the Museum d’histoire naturelle. In 1812 he began teaching anatomy and zoology at the Faculty of Sciences, and he started to challenge Cuvier’s ideas. Admitted to the Académie des sciences in 1825, he became chair of malacology at the Museum (1830), before succeeding Cuvier as chair of comparative anatomy (1832). He coined the term “paleontology” (1834), which refers to the study of beings that inhabited the Earth before present times through the observation of their fossils.

Marie Jean Pierre Flourens (1794-1867), French biologist and physician

Marble bust
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Marie Jean Pierre Flourens (1794-1867), French biologist and physician © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

After studying medicine, Pierre Flourens dedicated himself to natural history and, more specifically, the physiology of the nervous system. He challenged the scientific basis of phrenology and is considered to be one of the founders of experimental neuroscience and anaesthesia. Elected as a member of the Académie des sciences (1828), he succeeded Cuvier at the Collège de France (1832) and became chair of comparative physiology at the Museum. He was elected to the Académie française, in preference to Victor Hugo (1840).

Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1805-1861), French naturalist and anatomist

Marble bust by Joseph Buat (18 ?-1909)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1805-1861), French naturalist and anatomist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born in the Museum, he became assistant naturalist to his father, Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire in 1824. In 1832-1837, he studied teratology and published Histoire générale et particulière des anomalies de l’organisation chez l’homme et les animaux [A General and Specific History of Anomalies in the Organisation of Humans and Animals], proposing that the abnormal should be studied in order to better understand the normal. In 1841, he replaced his father as chair of mammals and birds. Working on the hereditary variability of genus and species, he studied their acclimatisation and domestication at the Ménagerie, the zoo of the Jardin des Plantes. In 1854 he founded the Zoological Society of Acclimatisation, which created the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris.

Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers (1821-1901), French naturalist and zoologist

Marble bust by Joseph Antoine Bernard (1866-1931)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers (1821-1901), French naturalist and zoologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

After studying medicine, Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers specialised in the study of molluscs and in 1865 he became chair of annelids, molluscs and zoophytes at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle, later becoming chair of zoology at the Sorbonne in 1868. Elected as a member of the Académie des sciences in 1871, he founded two marine biology stations, one in Roscoff (1872) and one in Banyuls-sur-Mer (1882), in order to study species in their natural habitat. He was the author of a number of works, including Histoire naturelle du corail [A Natural History of Coral] (1864).

Bernard Germain Étienne de Laville-sur-Illon, comte de Lacépède (1756-1825), French naturalist and politician

Marble bust by Frédéric Etienne Leroux (1836-1906)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Bernard Germain Étienne de Laville-sur-Illon, comte de Lacépède (1756-1825), French naturalist and politician © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appointed subdemonstrator in the Cabinet du roi [King’s Cabinet] in 1785, he contributed to Buffon’s Histoire naturelle [Natural History]. In 1794, he became the new chair of reptiles and fish at the Museum, where he became the director. Admitted to the Institute the following year, he went on to publish Histoire naturelle des poissons [A Natural History of Fish] and then Histoire naturelle des cétacés [A Natural History of Cetaceans] (1804). He became a senator in 1799, then president of the Senate, he was appointed minister of the state in 1804, and he was also named grand chancellor of the Legion of Honour. He devoted his later years to writing and publishing Histoire naturelle de l’homme [Natural History of Man] (1821).

Édouard Lartet (1801-1871), French prehistorian and paleontologist

Marble bust by André de Manneville (1867-1928)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Édouard Lartet (1801-1871), French prehistorian and paleontologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trained as a lawyer, in 1834 Édouard Lartet discovered the paleontological site of Sansan and identified a number of mammal and reptile fossils, including the first monkey fossil (Pliopithecus). In 1863, along with English industrialist Henry Christy, he explored the major sites of Périgord, including the cave of Eyzies, Laugerie-Basse and le Moustier. He suggested one of the first Palaeolithic classifications, based on successive species of large dominant mammals. A Muséum correspondent from 1838, he became chair of paleontology in 1869.

Pierre-André Latreille (1762-1833), French entomologist

Marble bust by François Girardet (1852–19?))
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Pierre-André Latreille (1762-1833), French entomologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

The illegitimate son of a baron, Pierre-André Latreille became a priest and devoted himself to studying insects. During the revolution, he discovered an insect in jail, a discovery which, along with clemency from a revolutionary keen on natural history, prompted his release. Having abandoned priesthood, he was hired to look after the Museum’s entomological collections and became a member of the Académie des sciences (1814). In 1830, upon Lamarck’s death, the chair of invertebrate zoology is divided into two and Pierre-André Latreille was made chair of crustaceans and insects. He was the first honorary president of the Société entomologique de France [French Entomological Society].

Alfred Legrand des Cloizeaux (1817-1897), French mineralogist

Marble bust by Nicolas Grandmaison (1857–1931)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Alfred Legrand des Cloizeaux (1817-1897), French mineralogist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following his studies at the Collège de France, Alfred des Cloizeaux studied the crystals of a number of minerals, their optical characteristics and their polarization. He published his research in a selection of works, including Leçons de cristallographie [Lessons in Crystallography] (1861) and Manuel de minéralogie [Mineralogy Manual] (1862, 1847 and 1893). A professor at the Ecole normale supérieure, he became chair of mineralogy at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle in 1876 and president of the Académie des sciences in 1889.

Charles Alexandre Lesueur (1778-1846), French artist and naturalist

Marble bust by Jules André Méliodon (1867-19?)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Charles Alexandre Lesueur (1778-1846), French artist and naturalist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taken on as an assistant gunner in Baudin’s Expedition to the Southern Lands (1800-1804), he became one of the official artists of the voyage, working with zoologist Péron. Back in France, he devoted his time to drawing (watercolours on vellum) and contributed to the writing of Voyage aux terres australes [Voyage of Discovery to the Southern Lands] before leaving for the United States (1816-1837) where he sent many specimens to the Museum, including fish samples. Upon his return, he was appointed director of the Muséum d’histoire naturelle in Le Havre in 1845, where a large portion of his collections were housed.

Henri Milne-Edwards (1800-1885), French naturalist and zoologist

Marble bust by Alexis André (1858 –1935)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Henri Milne-Edwards (1800-1885), French naturalist and zoologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

After studying medicine, he developed an interest in natural history and taught at the École Centrale. He worked on the marine fauna of the coastline around Granville and from 1834 he was in charge of the section dedicated to zoology in the Annales des sciences naturelles [Annals of Natural Sciences]. In 1838 he was elected to the Académie des sciences and was then appointed chair of crustaceans and insects at the Museum (1841), which he left for the chair of mammals and birds in 1862. A prolific author, he wrote Histoire naturelle des crustacés [Natural History of Crustaceans] (1837-1841), and Leçons sur la physiologie et l’anatomie comparée de l’homme et des animaux [Lessons on the Comparative Anatomy and Physiology of Humans and Animals] (1857-1881)

Jean-André de Peyssonnel (1694-1759), French physician and naturalist

Marble bust by Daniel Bacqué (1874-1947)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Jean-André de Peyssonnel (1694-1759), French physician and naturalist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

A naturalist and correspondent of the Académie royale des sciences, Jean-André de Peyssonnel travelled to North America, the West Indies and North Africa, before being named the King’s Physician in Guadeloupe in 1726. His main naturalistic contribution involved the question of the nature of coral. He discovered its animal nature by exploring the coasts of the Regencies of Tunis and Algiers (1724-1725). Presented at the Académie royale des sciences in 1726, his observations were met with scepticism from Réaumur and Bernard de Jussieu, before being recognised twenty years later.

François Péron (1775-1810), French physician, naturalist and zoologist

Marble bust by Marius Léon Cladel (1883-1948)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

François Péron (1775-1810), French physician, naturalist and zoologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

After studying medicine, François Péron took part, as a zoologist, in the expedition commissioned by Baudin to the Southern Lands (1800-1804). Working with artist Lesueur, he collected more than 100,000 specimens, including 2,500 new species. His approach to collecting marine invertebrates, particularly jellyfish, appeared to be very innovative. Upon his return, he devoted his time to writing the account of the voyage and was elected a member of the Institute in 1806.

René Primevère Lesson (1794-1849), French pharmacist and ornithologist

Marble bust by Jean-Baptiste Malacan (1875-1958)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

René Primevère Lesson (1794-1849), French pharmacist and ornithologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

A pharmacist officer, in charge of the Rochefort Botanical Garden, in 1822 René Primevère Lesson embarked on Duperrey's round-the-world voyage on board La Coquille. A surgeon, pharmacist and botanist, he collected invertebrates and was the first to see birds of paradise in the Moluccas and New Guinea. Upon his return, he was elected as a correspondent of the Académie des sciences (1825). In 1830, he was appointed as a professor of botany at the naval school of Rochefort and wrote a number of natural history publications.

Achille Valenciennes (1794-1865), French naturalist and zoologist

Marble bust by Léon Roussel (1868-1943)
Collection of busts of scientists, state commission (1901-1909)

Achille Valenciennes (1794-1865), French naturalist and zoologist © MNHN - Bruno Jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

A student of Cuvier, Achille Valenciennes published a short description of South American fish in Voyage dans l’Amérique méridionale [Voyage to South America] (1835-1847) by Alcide d'Orbigny. It was with Cuvier, however, that he wrote Histoire naturelle des poissons [Natural History of Fish] (1828-1848), a true encyclopaedia with descriptions of more than 5,000 species, including 2,000 new ones. A professor at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle, he was appointed chair of annelids, molluscs and zoophytes in 1832. He joined the Académie des sciences in 1844.