Scientist of the Day - Antoine-Joseph Dezallier d’Argenville
Antoine-Joseph Dezallier d'Argenville, a French lawyer, gardener, and collector of natural history objects, was born July 1, 1680. Dezallier achieved some renown as the author of the most widely read book on formal French gardens in the 18th century, but late in life, when he was well over 70, Dezallier published two illustrated natural history works, one on minerals and fossils, and the other on mollusks and their shells. The point of view is that of the collector of curiosities, rather than the zoologist or geologist, which is to say, the objects were chosen for their beauty or singularity rather than for their utility for taxonomy. The plates above are all from L'histoire naturelle éclaircie dans une de ses parties principales: L'oryctologie, qui traité des terres, des pierres, des métaux, des minéraux, et autres fossiles (1755), which we have in our History of Science Collection, and they show, in order: crystals; “pierres arborisées”, or dendritic stones; marine fossils; petrified wood; and a splendid piece of coral.
Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City. Comments or corrections are welcome; please direct to firstname.lastname@example.org.