Rouelle, Hilaire-Marin

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(b. Mathieu, Calvados, France, February 1718; d. Paris, France, 7 April 1779) chemistry.

Known as Rouelle le jeune or le cadet, HilaireMarin was less famous, original, and influential than his older brother Guillaume-François; but their careers were parallel to such an extent that the two men are often confused. Hilaire-Marin learned chemistry from his brother and then assisted him in most of his activities, which ranged from the study of saltpeter to the delivery of lectures at the Jardin du Roi, where in 1768 the younger Rouelle became demonstrator in chemistry. As a result of this close collaboration the possible contributions of HilaireMarin to work credited to his brother remain unknown.

After the death of Guillaume-François in 1770, Hilaire-Marin began to teach private courses in chemistry and pharmacy at their shop on the rue Jacob. The chemistry lectures seem to have been patterned consciously on those of his brother, whose pedagogical methods he admired. As a teacher, Hilaire-Marin is said to have had more dexterity than his brother—he was certainly less flamboyant and less absentminded—and this may help to explain his ability to proceed still further with organic chemistry, adding to the work of his brother several fine analyses of animal material. Some indication of the content of his courses can be found in his Tableau de l’analyse chimique (1774). His other publications consist of articles, the most significant of which discuss fixed air and the combustion of the diamond (the latter in collaboration with D’Arcet).

During the period 1762–1775, Hilaire-Marin held a post of apothecary to Louis Philippe, Duc d’Orléans, eventually resigning in favor of his nephew. Never elected to the Académie Royale des Sciences, although he was at least twice a candidate, he was a member of the academies of Madrid and Erfurt and the Royal Society of Arts (London).


I. Original Works. Rouelle’s major work is Tableau de l’analyse chimique (Paris, 1774). Articles are in the Journal de médecine, chirurgie, pharmacie, &c. and in Observations sur la physique, sur l’histoire naturelle et sur les arts. His article “Observations … sur l’air fixe et sur ses effets dans certaines eaux minerales” was reprinted in Lavoisier, Opuscules physiques et chymiques (Paris, 1774), 154–170. Interfoliated notes in one copy of G.-F. Rouelle’s lectures often report the work of Hilaire-Marin, Bibliothèque Municipale de Bordeaux, MSS 564–565, pp. 558a–558d and passim.

II. Secondary Literature. On Rouelle and his work, see J.-P. Contant, L’Enseignement de la chimie au Jardin royal des plantes de Paris (Cahors, 1952); and [J.-A. Mongez?], “Eloge de M. Rouelle le jeune,” in Observations sur la physique, sur l’histoire naturelle et sur les arts, 16 (September 1780), 165–174.

A short eulogy by P.-J. Macquer, Hilaire-Marin’s colleague at the Jardin du Roi, is in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, MS fr. 9132, fols. 175–176. Most works on Guillaume-François also deal briefly with Hilaire-Marin.

Rhoda Rappaport