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Niceron, Jean-François

1. Dates
Born: Paris, 1613
Died: Aix-en-Provence, 22 Sept. 1646
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 33
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
We are told only that he was the eldest child of Claude Niceron and Renée Barbière.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: Religous Order
Niceron studied under Mersenne at the Collège de Nevers in Paris. (I have trouble reconciling that institution at that time, not to mention that place, with Mersenne's life. It does appear evident that Niceron was educated within the order.) There is no mention of a degree.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
In 1632 he entered the Order of the Minims.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Optics
In his short life he occupied himself with the study of optics. In 1638 he published his first work on optics, La Perspective curieuse. The latin version was published in 1646 under the title of Thaumaturgus opticus. Though Niceron was aware of the latest theoretical developments, he concentrated primarily on the practical applications of perspective, catoptrics, dioptrics and the illusory effects of optics mostly associated with natural magic.
On the two occasions that he was sent to Rome, Niceron conducted experiments with other scientists in Rome suggested by the works of Galileo. He shared the latest developments of French scientists with their counterparts in Italy and returned to France with the scientific news from Italy.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Church Life
1639, appointed professor of mathematics at Trinità dei Monti.
1640, served as an auxiliary visitor with P. Francois de la Noue, vicar general, for the Minim monasteries. He was charged to teach theology as well.
8. Patronage
Type: Eccesiastic Official
Obviously his order utilized Niceron, but I am not calling this patronage.
However, he dedicated his Perspective to the Papal nuncio Bologneti.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: None
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Lenoble, Robert, "Roberval 'editeur' de Mersenne et du P.
  2. Niceron," Revue d'histoire des Sciences, 10 (1957), 235-54.
  3. Q2.R45
  4. Correspondence de Mersenne, 8-12 passim, with a short biography in 10, 811. BX4705.M53A3 Hoefer, Nouvelle biographie générale, (Paris, 1857-66).
  5. Michaud, Biographie générale.
  6. Charles Adam and G.Milhaud, eds., Descartes-correspondance, 3, (Paris, 1931), 412-13. B1873 .A19
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Bonelli, Maria Luisa, "Una lettera di Evangelista Torricelli a Jean Francois Niceron," in Convegno di studi Torricelliani, (Faenza, 1959), pp. 37-41.
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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