Fée, Antoine-Laurent-Apollinaire

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Fée, Antoine-Laurent-Apollinaire

(b. Ardentes, France, 7 November 1789; d. Paris, France, 21 May 1874)


From 1809 to 1815 Fée was a pharmacist with the French army, mostly in Spain. For about nine years he operated his own pharmacy in Paris, but in 1825 he resumed his military career and in succeeding years received appointments to the teaching staffs of military hospitals in Lille, Paris, and Strasbourg. While in Strasbourg, he earned an M.D. degree from the Faculty of Medicine in 1833 and shortly thereafter obtained a professorship of botany at that institution. Fée had many interests—literature and the humanities, natural history, pharmacy—but botany remained his chief preoccupation throughout his life. In 1824 he was elected to membership in the Paris Academy of Medicine, and in 1874 he became president of the Société Botanique de France.

Fée’s major contribution was to cryptogamic botany and, to a lesser extent, plant physiology. His most ambitious work was an extensive descriptive study of ferns published in eleven memoirs between 1844 and 1866. This investigation won praise from Adolphe Brongniart (1868), who characterized it as “un travail considerable,” although he felt that Fée had relied too heavily on veins in differentiating genera. In plant physiology Fée conducted research on movement in plants, especially as such movements were affected by light. Also noteworthy was his work on lichens and cryptogams occurring on medicinal barks imported into France, such as cinchona, angostura, and cascarilla. His early enthusiasm for classical literature prompted him to write about the plants mentioned by Vergil, Theocritus, Pliny, and other literary figures of antiquity.

Among Fée’s publications were a number of biographies of prominent botanists. During the last few years of his life, Fée’s botanical investigations were concerned mainly with the cryptogams of Brazil.


I. Original Works. Fée’s writings include Flore de Virgile... (Paris, 1822); Essai sur les cryptogames des écorces exotiques officinales (Paris, 1824; supp. and rev., 1837); Méthode lichénographique et genera... (Paris, 1824); Cours d’histoire naturelle pharmaceutique..., 2 vols. (Paris, 1828); Mémories sur le famile des fougères, 11 pts. (Strasbourg-Paris, 1844–1866), repr. as no. 52 of Historia Naturalis Classica (Codicote, England–New York, 1966); Cryptogames vasculaires du Brésil (Strasbourg, 1869; supp. and revs., Paris–Nancy, 1872–1873). For a comprehensive listing of Fée’s publications in botany and other fields, see Bulletin. Société botanique de France, 21 (1874), 173–178.

II. Secondary Literature. For an evaluation of Fée’s work on ferns, see A. T. Brongniart, Rapport sur les progrès de la botanique phytographique... (Paris, 1868), pp. 39–41; Fée’s research in plant physiology is described by P. E. S. Duchartre, Rapport sur les progrès de la botanique physiologique... (Paris, 1868), pp. 343 ff. Biographical material about Fée is in J. F. C. Hoefer, ed., Nouvelle biographie générale..., XVII (Paris, 1858), 255–259. See also A. Balland, Les pharmaciens militaries français (Paris, 1913), pp. 169–171, 302–304, and “Quelques pensées et quelques opinions littéraries de Fée,” in Bulletin de la Société d’histoire de la pharmacie, 4 (1926), 314–345; Bulletin. Société botanique de France, 21 (1874), 168–178; and P. Durrieu, “Les goûts archéologiques d’un pharmacien militaire de l’armée française en Espagne sous le Premier Empire,” in Journal des savants, n.s. 13 (1915), 364–373.

Alex Berman