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Graaf, Regnier de

1. Dates
Born: Schoonhoven, Netherlands, 30 July 1641
Died: Delft, 21 August 1673
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 32
2. Father
Occupation: An Architect In Schoonhoven (Eng)
Barge insists on the father's accomplishments and on the wealth of the mother's family.
De Graaf was able to pay for the publication of his 90 page dissertation and to include three plates.
I do not see how one can question that the family was at least affluent.
3. Nationality
Birth: Dutch
Career: Dutch
Death: Dutch
4. Education
Schooling: Louvain, Utrecht, Leiden, Angers; M.D.
As a Catholic, de Graaf went to Louvain, 1658-61. Began medical studies in 1661 at Utrecht, stayed there two years. Moved to Leiden (1663-5), where he was the student of Sylvius and van Horne.
M.D. Angers, 1665.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
This largely explains why de Graaf never held a university position in the Netherlands.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Physiology, Anatomy, Embryology
He published on pancreatic juice in 1664, a work that was translated into French and much reprinted.
He is considered one of the creators of experimental physiology.
He identified the Graafian follicle, and also published on male reproductive organs.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medical Practice
He supported himself by a medical practice in Delft, beginning in 1666.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Aristrocrat, Government Official, Physician
He dedicated his tract on male organs of reproduction (1668) to Habert de Montmor.
He dedicated his tract on female organs of reproduction (1671) to Cosimo III.
He dedicated the French translation of his doctoral treatise on pancreatic juice (1664) to Jean Capelain, councillor to Louis XIV, as also its new Latin edition of 1669.
He dedicated his brief tract on the use of the syringe in anatomy (1669) to Vopiscus Plempius, Professor of Medicine at Louvain.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Instrumentation, Medical Practice
He used a technique of injecting dye into organs in order to be able to observe them better. It was on this technique that the bitter priority dispute with Swammerdam developed. Beek says that he invented the syringe.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Friendship with Swammerdam until the dispute.
In France he attended the weekly assemblies at the home of Bourdelot which appear to have been influential in his career. And here he made the acquaintance of an important part of the French medical community.
Friendship with Leeuwenhoek, whom de Graaf introduced to the Royal Society.
  1. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biographisch Woordenboek.
  2. J.A.J. Barge, "Regnier de Graaf, 1641 - 1941," Mededeeligen der Nederlandsche Akad. der Wetenschappen, Afdeling Letterkunde, 5, #5 (1942), 257-81.
  3. C.E. Daniels, "De Graaf," in A. Hirsch, Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Aerzte aller Zeiten und Vokler, 3rd ed. (Munich, 1962), 2, 616.
  4. J.P. Niceron, Memoires pour servir a l'histoire des hommes illustres (1700s).
  5. G.A. Lindeboom, Dutch Medical Biography.
  6. G. A. Lindeboom, Reinier de Graaf, (Delft: Elmar, 1973).
  7. Not consulted and mostly not available: A. Portal, Histoire de l'anatomie et de la chirurgie, 3 (Paris, 1770), 214-35. J. Roger, Les sciences de la vie, p. 842.
  8. A. Rey, De Sylvius Regnier de Graaf, (Bordeaux, 1930).
  9. A sketch of his life in de Graaf's Verzamelde werken, (Dutch translation). This is not in the Latin edition, I find. M.J. van Lieburg, "Reinier de Graaf en zijn plaats in het fysiologisch onderzoek van de zeventiede eeuw," Gewina, 15 (1992), 73-84.
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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