Louis Pasteur

L. Pasteur Superb Signed Image with Great Epidemiology Association



L. Pasteur Superb Signed Image with Great Epidemiology Association

 

An etching of French scientist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) inscribed in French and signed by him on the mount as: "Au docteur Rochard / de l'Académie de Médecine / Très affectueux souvenir / L. Pasteur" [trans: "To Doctor Rochard / of the Academy of Medicine / Very affectionate remembrance / L. Pasteur"]. The etching, by Eugene André Champollion, is signed in stone by the artist at lower left, and renders the subject--a bearded mature Pasteur in frock coat and bowtie--in extraordinary detail. Pasteur's signature in facsimile appears at lower left. Isolated foxing to mat, else near fine. Matted and framed behind glass in a striking gilt frame. Not examined out of frame. The etching measures 4.625" x 6.5" while the overall frame measures 13.75" x 17.25".

 

The dedicatee of Pasteur's signed etching was Jules Rochard (1819-1896), a naval doctor and member of the French Academy of Medicine since 1875. Rochard is best known for his work on beriberi, a vitamin deficiency affecting the nervous and circulatory systems.

 

In the late 1870s, an outbreak of plague in Russia had piqued Pasteur's attention. As described in Patrice Debré's definitive biography Louis Pasteur: "The previous year [1878], the Academy [of Medicine] had appointed a commission to carry out a program of research after an outbreak of disease in Russia on the left bank of the Volga, in the Astrakhan district, and Pasteur felt compelled to intervene in the debate" [Patrice Debré, Louis Pasteur (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, English translation published in 1998) p. 341.]

 

Pasteur authored a paper on the subject in which he postulated that the disease might be caused by a microbe. He suggested ways in which the microbe could be isolated. He wrote: "If I were called upon to study the plague in the places where it holds sway, I would begin by supposing…that plague is due to the presence or the development of a microphyte or a microzoan. On that assumption, I would concentrate all my efforts on culturing blood and diverse humors of the body, using blood and humors collected at the end of life or immediately after it with the aim and the hope of isolating and purifying the infectious organism…" (As quoted in ibid.)

 

As part of the same 1878 commission, Pasteur's colleague (as well as the recipient of our etching) Dr. Jules Rochard weighed in by recalling how a similar plague had affected sailors in Marseille in 1720; the disease had ceased infecting new patients after two months. [As mentioned in René Vallery-Radot's biography The Life of Pasteur (New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1923), p. 301.]

 

Fifteen years after Pasteur's paper on the subject, the bubonic plague-causing bacillus was discovered by Alexandre Yersin, proving Pasteur's initial theory correct.

 

Pasteur, a chemist and microbiologist, discovered that bacteria in liquids are destroyed by heating, a process thereafter called pasteurization. Pasteur also developed a vaccine for rabies. Beginning in 1880, he successfully inoculated animals for chicken cholera and anthrax and paved the way for mass immunizations. The Pasteur Institute was established in 1888 in Paris; Pasteur remained head of the research facility until his death in 1895.

 



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Louis Pasteur
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