The New International Encyclopædia/Gerhardt, Karl Friedrich

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GERHARDT, Karl Friedrich (1816-56). An eminent French chemist, born at Strassburg. At the age of fifteen he was sent to the Polytechnic School at Carlsruhe, where his attendance at Walchner's lectures first awakened in his mind a taste for chemistry. After two years he removed to Leipzig, where he attended the lectures of Erdmann, which seem to have developed in him a passion for questions of speculative chemistry. On his return home he reluctantly entered upon the business of his father, who was a manufacturer of chemical products, but in his twentieth year he enlisted in a regiment of chasseurs. He soon, however, found military life as insupportable as a commercial career. He therefore purchased his discharge and set out for the laboratory of Giessen, where he worked under Liebig's superintendence for eighteen months. In 1838 he arrived in Paris, and there was cordially welcomed by Dumas. In the laboratory of the Jardin des Plantes he soon commenced, jointly with Cahours, his important researches on the essential oils. In 1844 he was appointed professor of general chemistry in the faculty of sciences at Montpellier. About this time he published his Précis de chimie organique. In 1848 he resigned his chair and returned to Paris, in order to follow out uninterruptedly his special investigations, and in that city he established, between the years 1849 and 1855, in successive memoirs, his views of series and his theory of types. It was there, also, that he gave to the scientific world his researches upon the anhydrous acids and the oxides. In 1855 he was made professor of chemistry at Strassburg and corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of Paris. All his ideas and his discoveries are embodied in his Traité de chimie organique (4 vols., 1853-56). He had hardly completed the correction of the last proof of this great work, when, after an illness of only two days, he died at the very period when he seemed to be beginning to enjoy the fruits of his labor. See Chemistry; Avogadro's Rule.