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Chemistry On Canvas: A Revealing Portrait of Monsieur and Madame Lavoisier

Date & Time

Sunday, June 5, 2011
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
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Location

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall

When Antoine Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry, was beheaded during the French Revolution, he left behind a widow whom history has overlooked. Two Nobel prize-winning scientists and an art historian share a passion for a beguiling portrait of the Lavoisiers by Jacques-Louis David, painted just 6 years before the famed chemist was led to the guillotine. They’re not alone in this passion; the work now presides over a gallery at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. What is it about this depiction of the Lavoisiers that captures the imagination of both scientists and art lovers? A conversation among two esteemed scientists, both savvy politicians, and an art historian from the Met. The three explored their infatuation with this portrait and revealed all that is hinted at on the canvas—and all that is not.

Presented in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Note: Free with Metropolitan Museum admission

Moderator

  • Garrick Utley

    Garrick Utley served as founding president of the Levin Institute of the State University of New York from 2003 to 2011. More »

Participants

  • Kathryn Calley Galitz

    Curator, Art Historian Kathryn Calley Galitz is a scholar of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century French art. At The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Galitz has organized international exhibitions on artists including Chassériau, Girodet, and Turner. More »
  • Harold Varmus

    Nobel Laureate, Oncologist Harold Varmus received the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with Dr. J. Michael Bishop, his former colleague at the University of California, San Francisco, for their discovery of cellular genes that are progenitors of retroviral oncogenes. More »
  • Roald Hoffmann

    Chemist, Poet, Playwright, and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Roald Hoffmann is a professor of chemistry and the Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters Emeritus at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. An internationally respected researcher, he is also a committed teacher and proud to have taught the first-year chemistry course almost without interruption for his entire academic career. He is a graduate of both Columbia and Harvard Universities. More »