PORTRAITS OF THE SCIENTISTS
The furnishings of the historical Mazzolini Giuseppucci pharmacy tell us the story of the scientific and technologic development during the XVIII and the XIX centuries, through the allegoric representation of discoveries, lab instruments and twenty five faithful portraits of famous scientists.
The portraits are arranged in two levels. They are made using different techniques based on the copies in circulation in those days.
In the foreground, on the pinnacle of the credenzas, fifteen well rounded busts resemble the faces of Amedeo Avogadro, Claude-Louis Berthollet, Stanislao Cannizzaro, Humphry Davy, Michael Faraday, Benjamin Franklin, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, Philipp Eduard Anton von Lenard, Raffaele Piria, Arnaldo Piutti, Sebastiano Purgotti, Victor Regnault, Wilhelm Konrad Röntgen, Francesco Selmi and Alessandro Volta.
On the wooden ceiling, in a symbolic position and in bas-relief carved tondos, you can find the portraits of ten European renowed physicians and pharmacists: Pietro Albertoni, Giovanni Campani, Arnaldo Cantani, August Wilhelm von Hofmann, Mathieu-Joseph-Bonaventura Orfila, Giuseppe Orosi, Silvio Plevani, Nestore Prota Giurleo, Francesco Ratti e Dioscoride Vitali.
(Gazoldo degli Ippoliti 1849 – Bologna 1933)
Graduated in Medicine in Padua and specialized in Physiology. He was a forerunner of forensic medicine and social physiology. In 1833, Albertoni together with Guareschi (a chemist) founded the publication “Chemical and Pharmacology Annals” which soon became the pre-eminent pharmacological and medical chemistry magazine.
AMEDEO AVOGADRO DI QUAREGNA
(Torino 1776 – 1856)
Accomplished in mathematics and physics (in particular specialized in atoms and molecules), he held several important public positions. In 1811, he formulated the famous Avogadro’s Law on the composition of molecular elements. He hypothesized that a molecular element could contain several atoms and that two equal volumes of gas contain the same number of molecules. In 1841, he published his work in “Fisica dei corpi ponderabili, ossia Trattato della costituzione materiale de’ corpi”.
(Talloire – 1748 Arcueil 1822)
Founder of contemporary chemistry and physics, he graduated from Turin University in Medicine, in 1770. Immediately afterwards he moved to Paris where he met Lavoiser and worked with him on the publishing “Méthode de nomenclature chimique” in 1787. In 1791, Berthollet published “Eléments de l’art de la teinture”, the most complete work on the chemistry of dyes of the time.
Professor of Pharmacology in Florence and Professor of Botanical and Natural Science at the University of Siena, where in 1860 he created the first Herbarium. In Siena, he directed the Museum of Natural History and the Botanical garden. In 1861, Campani founded the Academy of Physiocrats of Siena and in 1867 he completed the first catalogue for their mineral collection.
(Palermo 1826 – Roma 1910)
In his youth, Cannizzaro was an exemplary assistant chemist in Raffaele Piria’s laboratory at the University of Pisa. His contribution to the history of science is universally recognized. Following proven methodology and with Galilean insight, he discovered the atomic weights of the elements, enabling the atomic theory to become the foundation of chemistry, both organic and inorganic. A maestro, even by the standards of his illustrious generation of chemists, Cannizzaro was an academic of the Linceam Academy of France.
From 1901 until his death, he was president of the National Academy of Science, also known as XL.
(Hainsbach 1837 – Napoli 1893)
A graduate in Medicine from the University of Prague, Cantani was passionate about natural science. In Italy, he taught at the Universities of Pavia, Milan and Naples. He was a fierce promoter of “positivism in medicine” and a vocal advocate of the need for experimental observation when studying pathologies.
(Penzance 1778 – Ginevra 1829)
At the Medical Pneumatic Institution in Bristol, Davy stood out for his studies on Nitric oxide, discovering the physiological effects of Nitrous oxide. He is recognized as the founder of electro chemistry as he was the first to isolate the alkaline metals and subsequently other elements, using an electrolytic system. Furthermore he proved that diamonds are indeed made of pure carbon and from 1820 to 1827, he was president of the “Royal Chemical Society” in London.
(Newington Butts 1791 – Hampton Court 1867)
British chemist and physicist, in 1812 Faraday attended lectures by the eminent English chemist Humphry Davy and later became Mr Davy’s assistant. Faraday was the most distinguished experimental scientist of his time, achieving noteworthy results in the fields of electricity and magnetism. His inventions laid the foundation for the development of both generators (dynamos and alternators) and electrical motors.
(Boston 1706 – Filadelfia 1790)
Both a scientist and a man of letters, Franklin founded the prestigious American Philosophical Society. Amongst the many discoveries of his prodigious research, the most famous is the demonstration that lightning is simply a form of electricity. In particular, he conducted an experiment where a kite was flown during a storm to collect electrical charges from the storm clouds (so called “flying electrical deer”) which led to the invention of the lighting rod in 1752.
Due to his important political science writings, Franklin is considered the theorizer of the United States of America as a whole.
AUGUST WILHELM VON HOFMANN
(Giessen 1818 – Berlin 1892)
A researcher in organic chemistry, he studied under Justus von Liebig and later became his assistant. From 1861 to 1863, he was member of the Royal Chemical Society of London. Once back in Germany, he founded the “Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft” which was a fundamental institution for the reform of the European chemistry industry and changing the role of the chemist.
Despite being enrolled in Law he studied chemistry and natural science and is considered as the founder of modern chemistry. He postulated that the phlogiston theory was in fact wrong (that as the Earth is combustible therefore all other bodies were combustible). Lavoisier recognized the composition of air and discovered the role of oxygen in combustion, postulating the laws of conservation of mass and conservation of elements. His contribution to the creation of a systematic chemical nomenclature was fundamental.
PHILIPP EDUARD ANTON VON LENARD
(Presburgo 1862 – Messelhausen 1947)
A German physicist, he taught theoretical and experimental physics at Heidelberg and was the winner of the 1905 Nobel Prize for Physics for his research on cathode rays. He worked on the theory of phosphorescence and the measurement of magnetic fields using electrical resistance. A fierce nationalist, he was Hitler’s main scientific advisor during the Nazi years.
(Mahon 1787 – Paris 1853)
Both a doctor and a chemist, he studied in Valencia, Barcelona, Madrid and Paris. Due to the important research he conducted in the field, he is considered the founder of modern toxicology. After several years of teaching in Paris as the Dean of the University, he implemented several important reforms for the Medical School.
(Pisa 1816 – Livorno 1875)
While Orosi was a renowned chemist for his practical and experimental capacity, his publications also show a theoretical commitment to his empirical approach. He graduated from Pisa University and after participating in the 1848 unrest, he was appointed Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry in Florence. In 1860, he taught at the University of Pisa where he established a chemistry laboratory.
(Scilla di Calabria 1814 – Turin, 1865)
A Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pisa and founder of both “Antologia di scienze naturali” and “Nuovo Cimento”, some of the most important scientific publications in Italy. A maestro, even in a generation of pre-eminent scholars, his laboratory was a training ground for both the study and application of experimental methods. His commitment in the creation of the Italian chemical program was fundamental.
(Cividale del Friuli 1857 – Conegliano 1928)
A student of Ugo Schiff, he specialized in organic chemistry and distinguished himself in the study of asparagine. He taught at the University of Sassari and Naples, in the latter he founded the Institute of Pharmaceutical and Toxicological Chemistry which became a key centre of experimental research in Italy.
(Iseo 1853 – Pontevico 1905)
A graduate of Pharmaceutical Chemistry in Pavia, he was a pharmacist in Brescia and Milan. He became an inspector of the Fatebenefratelli Hospital’s pharmacies. In Milan he also directed a chemical analysis laboratory, concentrating his studies on enological applications.
NESTORE PROTA GIURLEO
(Caulonia 1831 – Napoli 1896)
He studied in Naples where he opened a pharmacy. As a pharmacist and a chemist he was known for his rigorous experimental approach. His laboratory was a fulcrum for practical experience in pharmaceuticals for many graduates in the south of Italy. He was Professor of Chemistry and Natural Science, as well as director of the “Il Farmacista Italiano ed il Medico Pratico” and “Il Piria” magazines. He also invented a device called a Termoleimeter for adulterated oil.
(Cagli 1799 – Perugia 1879)
He both studied and taught at the University of Perugia for many years and is considered one the greatest chemistry theorists, teachers and experimenters ever. He was a pioneer in the atomic theory and in the research on hydrology and was also the author of one of the most important chemical treatise of the 1800’s. His work in rationalizing several contemporary physical and chemical theories based in his experimental studies was fundamental.
(m. Roma 1886)
Ratti was a pharmacologist and a chemist. For 20 years he was the only professor of Chemistry at the University of Rome “La Sapienza” where in 1872 he was replaced by Stanislao Cannizzaro, one of his fiercest critics. In 1879 he became the President of the Rome Committee for the Reform of the Hospitals for the Poor. He was then nominated Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry from 1881 until 1886 and President of the National Institute of Health.
(Aix-la-Chapelle 1810 – Ginevra 1878)
A chemist and undisputed master of French experimental physic, Regnault replaced Gay-Lussac as Professor of Chemistry at the “École polytechinique” in Paris and then in 1840 he became a member of the “Académie des Sciences”. He was a pioneer in photography and designed a calorimeter named after him. Regnault carried on relentless research and experimental activities regarding the application of many mathematical principles.
WILHELM KONRAD RÖNTGEN
(Lennep 1845 – Monaco 1923)
He graduated in Zurich and became Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Wurzburg. In 1895 he accidentally discovered the existence of x-rays, during an experiment on cathode ray tubes where he detected the property of x-rays of passing through electrical and magnetic fields without any deviation. But the most interesting aspect of his discovery was linked to the application of x-rays in diagnostics due to the property of differing rates of absorption by various organic tissues. In recognition of these discoveries, he received the Rumfold Medal in 1896 from the Royal Chemical Society of London and then the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1901.
He studied chemistry at the University of Modena and due to the important research on toxicology, Selmi is considered the founder of colloid chemistry. His political activism in favour of the Unification of Italy barred him from teaching in Italian universities for many years and only after the Unification of Italy was he nominated Professor of Chemistry at the University of Bologna.
(Cortemaggiore 1832 – Venezia 1917)
Vitale studied pharmacy in Piacenza and in 1856, he moved to Turin where he worked in a pharmacy and attended classes by Raffaele Piria. For many years he directed the “Bollettino Chimico Farmaceutico” in Milan and he was one of the contributors to the Official Italian Pharmacopoeia, published in 1892.
Volta was an Italian physicist, renowned for his research on electricity and the chemistry of gases. He invented the electrophorus and the condenser electroscope. In 1800, his research and experiments on organic electricity led him to devise the battery, the first electrical generator ever which opened the way for the development of electrochemical reactions