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Argenville, Antoine-Joseph Dezalier d' [Dezalier d'Argenville]

1. Dates
Born: Paris, 1 July 1680
Died: Paris, 29 Nov. 1765
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 85
2. Father
Occupation: Pub
His father, Antoine Dezalier, was a parisian librarian-- i.e, the owner of a book store. The father owned the d'Argenville estate near Versailles. d'Argenville's grandfather was a merchant of lyonese linen.
Nothing is said explicitly, but in view of that estate and the life d'Argenville led they can scarcely have been less than affluent, which I will put down although I am convinced they were wealthy.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: No University
After studying at College du Plessis, he continued his studies under the engraver Bernard Picart, the painter Roger de Piles, and the architect Alexandre Le Blond.
Studied in Italy, 1713-16.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Natural History
In 1709 he published Traité sur la théorie et la pratique du jardinage. He republished this work in 1747 with an added section on hydraulics suitable for gardens.
After his return from Italy, he settled in Paris where he acquired a reputation as an expert collector of objects of art and curiosities of nature. His travels to Germany, Holland, and England widened his circle of acquaintance and enlarged his collection of objects.
In 1742 he published a work of natural history, L'Histoire naturelle, 2 vols., which contained information on minerology, fossils, and shells. The work was republished in 1755 and 1757.
D'Argenville is most well-known for his work on the life of artists, Abregé de la vie des plus fameux peintres (1745-52, 1762).
7. Means of Support
Primary: Personal Means, Government
After two years of travel in Italy, he purchased the post of secretary to the king in 1716, and became maitre des comptes in 1733 and counsellor to the king in 1748. The chancellor, d'Aguesseau, favored d'Argenville with an office of natural history. He was able to form one of the outstanding private collections of art and natural history in France.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Government Official
He was consulted on the selection of objects and their arrangement for a royal collection. After some hesitation, because it must have been objets d'art in question here, I am leaving this in.
He was favored by the chancellor of France who formed an office of natural history for him.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Hydraulics, Agriculture
That hydraulic system for gardens.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: Royal Society, 1750-1765
He became member of the Société Royale des Sciences de Montpellier in 1740, of the RS of London in 1750, and of the Académie de La Rochelle in 1758.
He entered into correspondence with a great number of savants of Europe primarily concerning objects for his natural history collection.
  1. Hoefer, Nouvelle biographie générale, (Paris, 1857-66), 14, 10-11 Michaud, Biographie générale, 11, 598-9.
  2. Dictionnaire de biographie francaise, 3, (Paris, 1939) cols., pp.581-583
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. de Ratte, "Eloge de M.Desallier d'Argenville" in d'Agenville's La conchyliologie, 3rd ed., (Paris, 1780) 1, ix-xxiv.
  2. Pierre Remy, Catalogue d'une collection de dessins . . . de feu M. d'Argenville, (Paris, 1778).
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University
Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.
©1995 Al Van Helden
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