Draparnaud, Jacques-Philippe-Raymond

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Draparnaud, Jacques-Philippe-Raymond

(b. Montpellier, France, 3 June 1772; d. Montpellier, 2 February 1804)

zoology, botany.

The son of Jacques Draparnaud, a merchant, and Marie-Hélène Toulouse, Draparnaud received his master of arts at the age of fifteen from the École de Droit; his thesis was entitled De universa philosophia. After graduating in 1790, he turned to the study of medicine. The Revolution, in which he took an active part, interrupted his studies, sent him to jail, and ruined him financially. He also narrowly escaped the scaffold. Freed in 1794, he withdrew to the École de Sorèze, where he taught physics and chemistry. In 1796 he was assigned the chair of grammaire générale at the Écoles Centrales, but he remained there only a short time. In 1802 Chaptal appointed him curator of collections at the Faculté de Médecine of the University of Montpellier and associate to Antoine Gouan, who was then director of the Jardin des Plantes. However, the intrigues of some of his colleagues led Draparnaud to resign in November 1803. He died shortly thereafter of pulmonary tuberculosis, from which he had suffered for many years.

During a scientific career of only fifteen years and despite the obstacles imposed by the Revolution and his illness, Draparnaud published at least forty-five works on politics, philosophy, grammar, physics, mineralogy, zoology (principally malacology), and botany. Besides his observations, he reached certain conclusions in biology and physiology that were remarkably ahead of his time. He introduced in a few words the idea of vital phenomena common to animal and plant life, and attempted to reduce these phenomena to physical and chemical laws.

At his death Draparnaud left numerous manuscripts in various stages of completion. Only one was published: Histoire naturelle des mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles de la France (1805); the others have been lost. Among them was one on the history of confervae, to which he attached great importance and on which he had worked for ten years. This work marks him as one of the first algologists. All that is left of it is the herbal of algae, now kept in the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris.


I. Original Works. A complete list of Draparnaud’s works is in Dulieu (1956) and Motte (1964) (see below). The most important include Discours sur les avantages de l’histoire naturelle (Montpellier, an IX); Tableau des mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles de France (Montpellier, an IX); Discours sur les moeurs et la manière de vivre des plantes (Montpellier, an IX); Discours sur la vie et les fonctions vitales, ou précis de physiologie comparée (Montpellier-Paris, an X); Discours sur la philosophie des sciences (Montpellier-Paris, an X); Dissertation sur l’utitité de l’histoire naturelle dans la médecine présentée à l’École de Médecine de Montpellier pour obtenir le titre de médecin (Montpellier, an XI); and Histoire naturelle des mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles de la France (Paris–Montpellier 1805).

II. Secondary Literature. On Draparnaud and his work, see J. B. Baumes, Éloge de Draparnaud (Montpellier, an XII); L. Dulieu, “Jacques-Philippe-Raymond Draparnaud,” in Revue d’histoire des sciences et de leurs applications, 9 , no. 3 (1956), 236–358; G. Laissac, “Notes sur la vie et les écrits de Draparnaud,” in Revue du midi, 2 (1843), 81–112, 239–256; J. Motte, “Vie de Draparnaud,” in Opuscula botanica necnon alia, 7 (1964), 1–79; and J. Poitevin, Notice sur la vie et les ouvrages de M. Draparnaud, lue á l’assemblée publique de la Société libre des sciences et belles-lettres de Montpellier, le 13 floréal an XII (Montpellier, an XIII).

Jean Motte