Famous 18th Century French Scientists

Find out more about the greatest 18th Century French Scientists, including Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, Antoine Lavoisier, Pierre-Simon Laplace, John James Audubon and Louis Daguerre.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite French

 1 Antoine Lavoisier

Antoine Lavoisier.
6
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: August 26, 1743
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 8, 1794

Antoine Lavoisier was a French chemist and nobleman. He played a crucial role during the chemical revolution of the 18th-century. Widely regarded as the father of modern chemistry, Lavoisier had a major influence on the history of biology as well as the history of chemistry. He also helped build the metric system. 

 2 Pierre-Simon Laplace

Pierre-Simon Laplace.
14
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: March 23, 1749
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Beaumont-en-Auge
Died: March 5, 1827

Though French scholar Pierre-Simon Laplace is primarily known for his work on the solar system, his research extended to areas such as mathematics and physics, apart from astronomy. Widely known as the Newton of France, he escaped being executed during the French Revolution, owing to his lack of political views.

Recommended Lists:

 3 Joseph Fourier

Joseph Fourier.
8
Famous As: Mathematician & Physicist
Birthdate: March 21, 1768
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Auxerre, Burgundy, Kingdom of France (now in Yonne, France)
Died: May 16, 1830

Joseph Fourier was a French physicist and mathematician best remembered for commencing the investigation of the Fourier series, which is used widely to solve problems of heat transfer and vibrations. Fourier's law of conduction and Fourier transform are named in his honor. Fourier is also said to have discovered the greenhouse effect.

 4 Joseph Louis Lagrange

Joseph Louis Lagrange.
4
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: January 25, 1736
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: April 10, 1813

Joseph Louis Lagrange was an Italian mathematician and astronomer who made significant contributions to the fields of number theory, analysis, and both classical and celestial mechanics. He served as the director of mathematics at the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin for over 20 years. He later moved to France and became a member of the French Academy of Sciences. 

 5 Adrien-Marie Legendre

Adrien-Marie Legendre.
7
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: September 18, 1752
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 10, 1833

Born into an affluent family, French mathematician Adrien-Marie Legendre probably never had to earn a living till the beginning of the French Revolution. Excelling in math and physics, he later contributed to areas such as elliptic functions, developed the least squares method, and lent his name to Legendre polynomials.

 6 Augustin-Louis Cauchy

Augustin-Louis Cauchy.
4
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: August 21, 1789
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris
Died: May 23, 1857

French mathematician Augustin-Louis Cauchy was initially a military engineer. In his early days, he and his family escaped the Reign of Terror and settled in Arcueil. He was one of the pioneers of mathematical analysis and made significant contributions to subjects such as error theory, calculus, and complex functions.

 7 Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac.
3
Famous As: Chemist and Physicist
Birthdate: December 6, 1778
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat
Died: May 9, 1850

Known for his pathbreaking Gay-Lussac's Law, French chemist-physicist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac was also the first, along with his colleague Alexander von Humboldt, to discover that water is composed of one part of oxygen and two parts of hydrogen. His name is one of the 72 that adorn the Eiffel Tower.

You May Like

 8 Giovanni Domenico Cassini

Giovanni Domenico Cassini.
3
Famous As: Astronomer and Mathematician
Birthdate: June 8, 1625
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Perinaldo, Italy
Died: September 14, 1712
Italian-French mathematician and astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini is best remembered for his discovery of four moons of Saturn, the computation of Jupiter’s rotational period, and the observation of the Cassini Division, or the gap between Saturn’s rings. King Louis XIV made him a member of the Académie des Sciences

 9 Jean-Paul Marat

Jean-Paul Marat.
7
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: May 24, 1743
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Boudry, Switzerland
Died: July 13, 1793

French political theorist, scientist, and physician Jean-Paul Marat was a key figure of the French Revolution. He published his radical views in pamphlets and newspapers, such as L'Ami du people. He was held responsible for the September massacres. His assassination by a Girondin supporter made him a Jacobin martyr.

 10 Jean-Baptiste Lamarck

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.
4
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: August 1, 1744
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bazentin, France
Died: December 18, 1829

French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck acquired his love for plants while serving as a soldier in the French army. Following an injury, he quit his military career but retained his love for botany. He later taught zoology, studied the classification of invertebrates, and also coined the term biology.

 11 Andre Marie Ampere

Andre Marie Ampere.
6
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: January 20, 1775
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Parish of St. Nizier, Lyon, France
Died: June 10, 1836

Andre Marie Ampere was a French physicist and mathematician. He is best known for being one of the founders of the science of classical electromagnetism. He was a professor at the École Polytechnique and the Collège de France and a member of the French Academy of Sciences. The base SI unit of electric current, the ampere, is named after him. 

 12 Charles Messier

Charles Messier.
4
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: June 26, 1730
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Badonviller
Died: April 12, 1817

French astronomer Charles Messier is remembered for his pioneering tabulation of nebulae, making it easier to differentiate between nebulae and comets. King Louis XV name him The Comet Ferret. He was drawn to astronomy when he witnessed a solar eclipse and the great six-tailed comet in childhood.

 13 Jacques Charles

Jacques Charles
3
Famous As: Physicist, Chemist, Inventor, Balloonist, Mathematician
Birthdate: November 12, 1746
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Beaugency
Died: April 7, 1823

Best known for developing the Charles’s law, which explains the expansion of gases when heated, Jacques Charles was a prominent French physicist. He was the first to ascend in a hydrogen-filled gas balloon, thus pioneering hot-air balloon flight. The Académie des Sciences member later became a professor of physics.

 14 Antoine-Augustin Parmentier

Antoine-Augustin Parmentier
7
Famous As: Botanist, Pharmacist, Physician, Agronomist, Nutritionist
Birthdate: August 12, 1737
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Montdidier
Died: December 17, 1813

While in prison, in the aftermath of the Seven Years’ War, army pharmacist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier was forced to eat potatoes, which were considered fit only for prison ration and animal feed back then. Parmentier later persuaded the Paris Faculty of Medicine to declare potatoes edible and popularized them in France.

 15 Sophie Germain

Sophie Germain.
5
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: April 1, 1776
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris
Died: June 27, 1831

French mathematician Sophie Germain had used the pseudonym M. Le Blanc to get hold of notes from the École Polytechnique, as being a woman, she was not allowed to attend the institute. She later contributed to the number theory and also pioneered the elasticity theory. She died of breast cancer.

 16 Georges Cuvier

Georges Cuvier.
4
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: August 23, 1769
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Montbéliard, France
Died: May 13, 1832

Georges Cuvier was a French zoologist and naturalist. A major figure in the early 19th century's research of natural sciences, Cuvier played an important role in establishing the fields of comparative paleontology and anatomy by comparing fossils with living animals, for which he is sometimes regarded as the founding father of paleontology.

 17 Marquis de Condorcet

Marquis de Condorcet.
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
Birthdate: September 17, 1743
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ribemont, France
Died: March 28, 1794

French mathematician and philosopher Marquis de Condorcet was a champion for liberal economy and women’s rights. He was a significant contributor of the Encyclopédie and was part of the Academy of Sciences. He is also remembered for his political activities in the wake of the French Revolution.

 18 Johann Heinrich Lambert

Johann Heinrich Lambert.
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist and Astronomer
Birthdate: August 26, 1728
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Republic of Mulhouse, Independent city-state
Died: September 25, 1777

Johann Heinrich Lambert was a Swiss polymath whose contributions to the fields of physics, mathematics, map projections, astronomy, and philosophy are considered important by many scholars. He is credited with introducing hyperbolic functions into trigonometry. He is also credited with inventing a hygrometer, which is used to measure the quantity of water vapor in soil and air.

 19 Charles Augustin De Coulomb

Charles Augustin De Coulomb.
3
Famous As: French physicist
Birthdate: June 14, 1736
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Angoulême, France
Died: August 23, 1806

French physicist Charles Augustin De Coulomb, remembered for laying down the Coulomb’s law, had previously been a military engineer in the West Indies. At the onset of the French Revolution, Coulomb, struggling with failing health, devoted himself to research. The unit of electric charge, coulomb, was named after him.

 20 Émilie du Châtelet

Émilie du Châtelet
5
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: December 17, 1706
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 10, 1749

 21 Sadi Carnot

Sadi Carnot.
3
Famous As: Physicist and Scientist
Birthdate: June 1, 1796
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Luxembourg Palace
Died: August 24, 1832

Son of French Revolutionary leader and mathematician Lazare Carnot, Sadi Carnot was an engineer in the French army. He later laid down the Carnot cycle of heat engines. Much of his works were buried with him when he died of cholera at 36, due to the contagiousness of the disease.

 22 Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon.
3
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: September 7, 1707
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Montbard, France
Died: April 16, 1788

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon was a French mathematician, encyclopédiste, cosmologist, and naturalist. He is best known for authoring and publishing Histoire Naturelle, an encyclopaedic collection of 36 volumes, which he worked on for 50 years. His work had a strong influence on two subsequent generations of naturalists, including popular French scientists like Georges Cuvier and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.

 23 Jean Le Rond d’Alembert

Jean Le Rond d’Alembert.
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
Birthdate: November 16, 1717
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 29, 1783

Jean le Rond d'Alembert was a French mathematician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist. He is credited with coming up with d'Alembert's formula, a solution to the one-dimensional wave equation, which is named after him. His life and work inspired Andrew Crumey's 1996 novel, D'Alembert's Principle.

 24 Joseph-Ignace Guillotin

Joseph-Ignace Guillotin
3
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: May 28, 1738
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saintes, France
Died: March 26, 1814

 25 Abraham de Moivre

Abraham de Moivre
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Statistician
Birthdate: May 26, 1667
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vitry-le-François
Died: November 27, 1754

 26 Siméon Denis Poisson

Siméon Denis Poisson
4
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: June 21, 1781
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Loiret, France
Died: April 25, 1840

 27 Augustin-Jean Fresnel

Augustin-Jean Fresnel.
3
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: May 10, 1788
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Broglie (Eure)
Died: July 14, 1827

Augustin-Jean Fresne, best remembered for his pioneering research on the wave theory of light, was a sickly child and was mostly homeschooled in his early days. The French physicist was a civil engineer, too. Unfortunately, most of his scientific work failed to receive public attention during his lifetime.

 28 Guillaume Le Gentil

Guillaume Le Gentil.
3
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: September 12, 1725
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Coutances, France
Died: October 22, 1792

Of French astronomer Guillaume Le Gentil’s discoveries, the most notable remain the Messier objects M32, M36, and M38. He waited for 8 years in India to observe the transit of Venus, but bad weather prevented his mission. He was mistakenly declared dead in France, but went back to reclaim his life.

 29 François Arago

François Arago
3
Famous As: Astronomer, Mathematician, Physicist, Politician, Scientist, University teacher
Birthdate: February 26, 1786
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Estagel
Died: October 2, 1853

French physicist and mathematician François Arago discovered rotatory magnetism, named Arago's rotations. He is also remembered for his research on the wave theory of light and for the reforms he introduced as the French minister of war and the navy. The Eiffel Tower has his name inscribed on it.

 30 Joseph Black

Joseph Black
3
Famous As: Chemist, Physicist, Scientist, University teacher
Birthdate: April 16, 1728
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bordeaux
Died: December 6, 1799

Joseph Black was an 18th-century Scottish physicist and chemist. He is remembered for his discoveries of magnesium, specific heat, latent heat, and carbon dioxide. He spent several years of his career as a professor of medicine and chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. In 1783, he became one of the founders of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 

 31 Lazare Carnot

Lazare Carnot
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Politician, Engineer, Officer, Physicist
Birthdate: May 13, 1753
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nolay
Died: August 2, 1823

Lazare Carnot was a French physicist, mathematician, and politician. His role in the Napoleonic Wars and French Revolutionary Wars earned him the sobriquet Organizer of Victory. Carnot is credited with developing innovative defensive designs for forts, such as the Carnot wall which served as a defensive mechanism against infantry and artillery attack.

 32 Joseph Proust

Joseph Proust
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: September 26, 1754
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Angers, France
Died: July 5, 1826

Initially training to be an apothecary like his father, Joseph Proust later deviated to pharmacy and then to chemistry. He is best remembered for developing the law of definite proportions, also known as the Proust's law, which states that pure chemical compounds always consist of constant proportions of constituent elements.

 33 Gaspard Monge

Gaspard Monge
3
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: May 9, 1746
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Beaune, France
Died: July 28, 1818

 34 Michel Eugène Chevreul

Michel Eugène Chevreul
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: August 31, 1786
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Angers, France
Died: April 9, 1889

Born into a family of surgeons, chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul naturally found an interest in science in his early days. His initial work involved separating colored substances from plant tissue and fats from animal tissue. His discoveries revolutionized color painting and also boosted the soap and candle industries.

 35 Claude-Louis Navier

Claude-Louis Navier
3
Famous As: physicist, economist, mathematician, engineer of roads and bridges
Birthdate: February 10, 1785
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Burlada
Died: August 21, 1836

 36 Pierre-André Latreille

Pierre-André Latreille
3
Famous As: Zoologist
Birthdate: November 29, 1762
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brive-la-Gaillarde, France
Died: February 6, 1833

 37 Jean Sylvain Bailly

Jean Sylvain Bailly
3
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: September 15, 1736
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 12, 1793

A major figure of the French Revolution, Jean Sylvain Bailly is remembered for leading the Tennis Court Oath. He also made a name for himself as an astronomer and studied the Halley’s Comet and the satellites of Jupiter extensively. As a mayor of Paris, he later defended Marie-Antoinette and was guillotined.

 38 Pierre Louis Maupertuis

Pierre Louis Maupertuis
2
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: September 28, 1698
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint-Malo, France
Died: July 27, 1759

Pierre Louis Maupertuis was a French mathematician and man of letters. He is credited with having invented the principle of least action; his version is known as Maupertuis's principle. He was also a philosopher and his work in natural history touched upon a range of topics. He was the first President of the Prussian Academy of Science. 

 39 Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier

Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier
2
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: January 20, 1758
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Montbrison, France
Died: February 10, 1836

At 13, Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier had married lawyer and chemist Antoine Lavoisier. Her mastery of English helped her assist her husband communicate with his collaborators. She also illustrated her husband’s books and eventually negotiated with Joseph Priestley, on his behalf, over the naming of oxygen, which Priestley had discovered.

 40 Guillaume Amontons

Guillaume Amontons
2
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 31, 1663
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 11, 1705

 41 Jean-Baptiste Biot

Jean-Baptiste Biot
2
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Astronomer, Civil engineer, Engineer, Professor
Birthdate: April 21, 1774
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris
Died: February 3, 1862

Jean-Baptiste Biot was a French physicist, mathematician, and astronomer. He was a co-discoverer of what became known as the Biot-Savart law of magnetostatics. He is also credited with establishing the reality of meteorites. He made major contributions to the fields of optics and magnetism as well. Cape Biot in eastern Greenland is named in his honor. 

 42 Antoine Laurent de Jussieu

Antoine Laurent de Jussieu
3
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: April 12, 1748
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: September 17, 1836

 43 Charles Marie de La Condamine

Charles Marie de La Condamine
2
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: January 28, 1701
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: February 4, 1774

 44 Alexis Clairaut

Alexis Clairaut
2
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: May 13, 1713
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 17, 1765

Born to a math teacher, French mathematician and physicist Alexis Clairaut had mastered calculus at 10. He is best remembered for devising the Clairaut’s equation and for validating the scientific claims of Sir Isaac Newton. He was part of an expedition to Lapland to ascertain a degree of the meridian arc.

 45 Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis

Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis
2
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: May 21, 1792
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 19, 1843

French mathematician and physicist Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis proposed what is now known as Coriolis force. While teaching at the École Polytechnique, Paris, he extended the scope of kinetic energy. His On the Calculation of Mechanical Action remains his most significant book. His name remains inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.

 46 René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur

René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur
2
Famous As: Entomologist
Birthdate: February 28, 1683
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Rochelle, La, France
Died: October 17, 1757

 47 Mathurin Jacques Brisson

Mathurin Jacques Brisson
2
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 30, 1723
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Fontenay-le-Comte, France
Died: June 23, 1806

 48 Bernard Germain de Lacépède

Bernard Germain de Lacépède
2
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: December 26, 1756
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Agen, France
Died: October 6, 1825

 49 Claude-Louis Berthollet

Claude-Louis Berthollet
2
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: December 9, 1748
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Talloires, France
Died: November 6, 1822

Savoyard-French chemist Claude Louis Berthollet is known for reorganising chemical nomenclature with his colleagues and for introducing the use of chlorine gas as a commercial bleach. He developed a solution of sodium hypochlorite as a modern bleaching agent, first ascertained the elemental composition of ammonia gas, and introduced the reversible reaction concept leading to development of the chemical equilibrium concept.

 50 Pierre Bouguer

Pierre Bouguer
2
Birthdate: 0000 AD