Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743–1794) and His Wife (Marie-Anne-Pierrette Paulze, 1758–1836)

Artist: Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels)

Date: 1788

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 102 1/4 x 76 5/8 in. (259.7 x 194.6 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman Gift, in honor of Everett Fahy, 1977

Accession Number: 1977.10


This great double portrait was painted when the artist, at the peak of his powers, had become the standard-bearer of French Neoclassicism. Lavoisier is known for his pioneering studies of oxygen, gunpowder, and the chemical composition of water. In 1789 he published a treatise on chemistry illustrated by his wife, who is believed to have been David's pupil. Lavoisier was involved in a political scandal which led him to withdraw the present painting from the 1789 Salon. Despite his service to the revolutionary regime, he was guillotined.