Malouin, Paul-Jacques

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(b. Caen, France, 29 June 1701; d. Versailles, France, 3 January 1778)

medicine, chemistry.

Malouin was born into a venerable Caen family. His parents, N. Malouin and N. Poupart, wanted him to pursue a legal career. He was sent to Paris to study law, but turned instead to scientific pursuits and, after a brief return to his native city from 1730 to 1733, settled in the French capital to teach and practice medicine. A relative of Fontenella, permanent secretary of the Académie Royale des Sciences, Malouin quickly attracted a prominent clientele, which included members of the royal family. He emphasized the importance of hygiene and the comprehensive application of chemical remedies and theory to medicine, presenting his findings formally as professor of medicine at the Collège Royal from 1767 to 1775. In his will be provided for the establishment of an annual public meeting at the Faculty of Medicine in Paris to apprise the nation of the most recent medical discoveries and advances.

Malouin complemented his medical career with an active interest in the developing science of chemistry. Elected to the Academy as adjoint chimiste in 1742, he became pensionnaire chimiste in 1766 and director of the Academy for 1772; he was made a fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1753. Malouin’s chemical studies are relatively unimportant, although several memoirs read in 1742 and 1743 on zinc and tin were then useful. A contributor to the early volumes of Diderot’s Encyclopédie, Malouin wrote a number of competent articles on various chemical topics: “Alchimie,” “Antimoine,” “Acide,” and “Alkali.” He worked frequently with Bourdelin, professor of chemistry at the Jardin du Roi, and often lectured in his stead. He also contributed important articles on milling and baking in the Academy’s series Description des Arts et Métiers, applying chemical theory and method to those two trades, vital in the economic and social life of the ancien régime. Malouin’s methods for grinding wheat and mixing flour yielded bread of higher quality.


I. Original Works. Malouin’s major works are Traité de chimie, contenant la manière de préparer les remèdes qui sont les plus en usage dans la pratique de la mèdecine (Paris, 1734); and Chimie médicinale, contenant la manière de prédes les remèdes les plus usités, et la mèthode pour la guérison des maladies, 2 vols. (Paris, 1750; 2nd ed., 1755). His work on milling and baking, entitled Description et dètails des arts du meunier, du vermicelier et du boulanger, avec une histoire abrégée de la boulangerie et un dictionnaire de ces arts (Paris, 1767), appeared as a volume in the series Description des Arts et Métiers, faites ou approuvées par Messieurs de l’sAcadémie Royale des Sciences.

II. Secondary Literature. The best biographical source for Malouin is M. Condorcet, “Éloge de M. Malouin,” A. Condorcet O’Connor and M. F. Arago, eds., Oeuvres de Condorcet, II (Paris, 1847), 320–332. Consult also Jean-Charles Des Essartz, Éloge de Malouin (Paris, 1778); and F. Hoefer, ed., Nouvelle biographie Générale, XXXIII (Paris, 1860), 97–98. A brief assessment of Malouin’s chemical work is in J. R. Partington, A History of Chemistry, III (London, 1961), 72.

Martin Fichman