1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Candolle, Augustin Pyrame de

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CANDOLLE, AUGUSTIN PYRAME DE (1778–1841), Swiss botanist, was born at Geneva on the 4th of February 1778. He was descended from one of the ancient families of Provence, whence his ancestors had been expatriated for their religion in the middle of the 16th century. Though a weakly boy he showed great aptitude for study, and distinguished himself at school by his rapid attainments in classical and general literature, and specially by a faculty for writing elegant verse. He began his scientific studies at the college of Geneva, where the teaching of J. P. E. Vaucher first inspired him with the determination to make botanical science the chief pursuit of his life. In 1796 he removed to Paris. His first productions, Historia Plantarum Succulentarum (4 vols., 1799) and Astragalogia (1802), introduced him to the notice of Cuvier, for whom he acted as deputy at the Collège de France in 1802, and to J. B. Lamarck, who afterwards confided to him the publication of the third edition of the Flore française (1803–1815). The Principes élémentaires de botanique, printed as the introduction to this work, contained the first exposition of his principle of classification according to the natural as opposed to the Linnean or artificial method. In 1804 he was granted the degree of doctor of medicine by the medical faculty of Paris, and published his Essai sur les propriétés médicales des plantes comparées avec leurs formes extérieures et leur classification naturelle, and soon after, in 1806, his Synopsis plantarum in flora Gallica descriptarum. At the desire of the French government he spent the summers of the following six years in making a botanical and agricultural survey of the whole kingdom, the results of which were published in 1813. In 1807 he was appointed professor of botany in the medical faculty of the university of Montpellier, and in 1810 he was transferred to the newly founded chair of botany of the faculty of sciences in the same university. From Montpellier, where he published his Théorie élémentaire de la botanique (1813), he removed to Geneva in 1816, and in the following year was invited by the now independent republic to fill the newly created chair of natural history. The rest of his life was spent in an attempt to elaborate and complete his “natural” system of botanical classification. The results of his labours in this department are to be found in his Regni vegetabilis systema naturale, of which two volumes only were completed (1821) when he found that it would be impossible for him to execute the whole work on so extensive a scale. Accordingly in 1824 he began a less extensive work of the same kind—his Prodromus systematis regni vegetabilis—but even of this he was able to finish only seven volumes, or two-thirds of the whole. He had been for several years in delicate health when he died on the 9th of September 1841 at Geneva.

His son, Alphonse Louis Pierre Pyrame de Candolle, born at Paris on the 28th of October 1806, at first devoted himself to the study of law, but gradually drifted to botany and finally succeeded to his father’s chair. He published a number of botanical works, including continuations of the Prodromus in collaboration with his son, Anne Casimir Pyrame de Candolle. He died at Geneva on the 4th of April 1893.