Saint-Hilaire, Augustin François César Prouvençal (usually known as Auguste De)
SAINT-HILAIRE, AUGUSTIN FRANçOIS CéSAR PROUVENçAL (USUALLY KNOWN AS AUGUSTE DE)
(b. Orléans, France, 4 October 1779; d. La Turpinière, near Sennely, Loiret, France, 30 September 1853)
Saint-Hilaire was interested in entomology and botany from an early age; and despite his appointment as accountant in the civil service, in 1816 left for Rio de Janeiro, accompanying M. de Luxembourg, the French ambassador. He intensively surveyed the flora and fauna of Brazil from Jequitinhonha to the Río de la Plata for six years. In August 1822 Saint-Hilaire returned to Paris with 24,000 plants, 2,000 birds, 16,000 insects, 135 quadrupeds, and many reptiles, fishes, and minerals that he intended to classify. he fell seriously ill, however, lost his voice, and almost lost his sight while preparing the publication of the Brazilian flora. Under the care of Michel Dunal and Claude Lallemand at Montpellier, he recovered.
In 1830 Saint-Hilaire was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences and became professor at the Faculty of Sciences in Paris. On all his travels he made interesting anthropological, botanical, and pharmacognostic observations. His work on Brazilian botany, however, was superseded by that of Martius.
Saint-Hilaire’s first works appeared in the Bulletin des sciences physiques, médicales, et d’agriculture d’Orléans. Shortly after his return from Brazil he published “Aperçu d’un voyage dans l’intérieur du Brésil, la province cisplatine et les missions dites du Paraguay,” in Mémoires du Muséum d’histoire naturelle, 9 (1822), 307–380. Histoire des plantes les plus remarquables du Brésil et du Paraguay (Paris, 1824) and Plantes usuelles des brasiliens (Paris, 1824) were followed by his most important work, Flora Brasiliae meridionalis, 3 vols. (Paris, 1825–1833), written with A. de Jussieu and J. Cambessèdes. Saint-Hilaire published the diaries of his travels in Brazil as Voyage dans les provinces de Rio de Janeiro et de Minas Geraes (Paris, 1830); Voyage dans le district des diamants et sur le littoral du Brésil (Paris, 1833); Voyage aux sources du Rio de S. Francisco et dans la province de Goyaz. 2 vols, (Paris, 1847–1848); and Voyage dans les provinces de Saint Paul et de Sainte Catherine (Paris, 1851). Saint-Hilaire’s Voyage à Rio Grande do Sul (Brésil) (Orléans, 1887) was published posthumously, edited by R. de Dreuzy.
Anna Eliza Jenkins wrote an introductory essay to Saint-Hilaire’s “Esquisse de mes voyages au Brésil et Paraguay,” in Chronica botanica, 10 (1946), 1–62, with an interesting biographical study.