Gaultier De Claubry, Henri-François

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Gaultier De Claubry, Henri-François

(b. Paris, France, 21 July 1792; d. Paris, 4 July 1878), chemistry, toxicology, public health.

Gaultier de Claubry’s father, Charles-Daniel, and his older brother, Charles-Emmanuel-Simon, were prominent surgeons and physicians. Following their example, Henri-François first embarked on a medical career but subsequently decided to devote his efforts to scientific pursuits. He served as a répétiteur at the École Polytechnique and in 1835 was named assistant professor of chemistry at the École de Pharmacie, a post he held until 1859, when he succeeded J. -B. Caventou as professor of toxicology. In 1825 he was appointed to the Council of Health of the Department of the Seine, and in 1848 he was elected to the Academy of Medicine (Paris).

A prolific author, Gaultier de Claubry is remembered largely for his discovery with J. -J. Colin of the blue color imparted to starch by free iodine (1814). In 1812 he translated into French William Henry’s popular textbook, Elements of Experimental Chemistry. His investigation of the presence of iodine in seawater and in seaweed was published in 1815, as was his description of the properties of inulin. In succeeding years Gaultier de Claubry dealt with a great variety of subjects and worked in such fields as chemistry, toxicology, public health, medicine, and meteorology. This versatility, which extended to a multiplicity of largely unrelated projects, tended to make his work diffuse.

Nevertheless, Gaultier de Claubry was considered an able scientist by his contemporaries. Particularly noteworthy were his researches on the coloring matter in madder, carried out with J. -F. Persoz and published in 1831. A significant contribution to toxicology was his treatise on legal chemistry, which was incorporated in several editions of J. Briand and E. Chaudé’s Manuel complet de médecine légale, one of the most authoritative textbooks on legal medicine in nineteenth-century France. The bulk of Gaultier de Claubry’s writings on public health—dealing with food adulteration, environmental health, disinfection, industrial hygiene, and related topics—appeared in the Annales d’hygiène publique et de médecine légale.


I. Original Works. Some of Gaultier de Claubry’s most important work is embodied in the following publications: “Mémoire sur les combinaisons de l’iode avec les substances végétales et animales . . .,” in Annales de chimie, 90 (1814), 87–100; “Des recherches sur l’existence de l’iode dans l’eau de la mer et dans les plantes qui produisent la soude de varecks, et analyse de plusieurs plantes de la famille des algues,” ibid., 93 (1815), 75–110, 113–137; “Note sur une substance à laquelle on a donné le nom d’inuline,” ibid., 94 (1815), 200–208; and “Mémoire sur les matières colorantes de la garance,” ibid., 2nd ser., 48 (1831), 69–79.

A partial listing of Gaultier de Claubry’s articles is in the Royal Society of London, Catalogue of Scientific Papers (1800–1863), II (London, 1867), 787–788; VII (London, 1877), 746; IX (London, 1891), 974. Most of his articles dealing with various aspects of public health that were published in the Annales d’hygiène publique et de médecine légale can be located in two separate index vols., covering the periods 1829–1855 and 1854–1878, respectively. His Traité élémentaire de chimie légale was included in J. Briand and E. Chaudé, Manuel complet de médecine légale, 4th ed. (Paris, 1846), and several later eds. For additional works, see Catalogue général des livres imprimés de la Bibliothèque nationale, LVIII (Paris, 1914), 42–46.

II. Secondary Literature. See Centenaire de l’École supérieure de Pharmacié de l’Université de Paris, 1803–1903 (Paris, 1904), pp. 330–331; Fritz Ferchl, Chemisch-Pharmazeutisches Bio- und Bibliographikon (Mittenwald, 1937), p. 173; and G. Vapereau, Dictionnaire universel des contemporains, 5th ed. (Paris, 1880), 785. See also J. C. F. Hoefer, ed., Nouvelle biographic générale (Paris, 1867), 679; and Pierre Larousse, ed., Grand dictionnaire universel, 15 vols. (Paris, 1866–1876), VIII, 1086.

Alex Berman