ÉMILE DESMAISONS Portrait of Jean-Sylvain Bailly (1736-1793) ca. 1860 [R/V] - x +
DesE1860bail


CN: DesE1860bail

MT: albumen print on paper mounted on card (9x6 / C:10x6)

TX: embossed at lower right of picture <ED>, printed at lower left of margin in French <Collection E. DESMAISONS>, inscribed with fountain pen at lower center of margin <Bailly>, inscribed with pencil at rear upper left <Bailly>, printed at center <E. DESMAISONS / 22, Rue de l'Arbre-Sec / PRÈS LE PONT NEUF / PARIS / Ci devant Rue des Grands Augustine, 5 / Copyright Secured for England>, stamped below <MAISON / ALPH. GIROUX>

PR: Maison Alphonse Giroux, Paris

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos - 2009

CM: Jean-Sylvain Bailly (15 September 1736 Paris - 12 November 1793 Paris) was a French astronomer and orator, one of the leaders of the early part of the French Revolution. He was ultimately guillotined during the Reign of Terror. § Born in Paris, he was originally intended for the profession of a painter, but preferred writing tragedies, until attracted to science by the influence of Nicolas de Lacaille. He calculated an orbit for Halley's Comet when it appeared in 1759, reduced Lacaille's observations of 515 zodiacal stars, and was elected a member of the French Academy of Sciences in 1763. His Essai sur la theorie des satellites de Jupiter (Essay on the theory of the satellites of Jupiter, 1766), an expansion of a memoir presented to the Academy in 1763, showed much original power; and it was followed up in 1771 by a noteworthy dissertation Sur les inegalites de la lumiere des satellites de Jupiter (On the inequalities of light of the satellites of Jupiter). In 1778, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He gained a high literary reputation by his Éloges of King Charles V of France, Lacaille, Molière, Pierre Corneille and Gottfried Leibniz, which were issued in collected form in 1770 and 1790; he was admitted to the Académie française on 26 February 1784, and to the Académie des Inscriptions in 1785, when Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle's simultaneous membership of all three Academies was renewed in him. From then on, he devoted himself to the history of science, publishing successively: Histoire de l'astronomie ancienne (A history of ancient astronomy, 1775); Histoire de l'astronomie moderne (A history of modern astronomy, 3 vols., 1779-1782); Lettres sur l'origine des sciences (Letters on the origin of the sciences, 1777); Lettres sur l' Atlantide de Platon (Letters on Plato's Atlantide , 1779); and Traite de l'astronomie indienne et orientale (A treatise on Indian and Oriental astronomy, 1787). The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica remarks that "Their erudition was... marred by speculative extravagances." § The Revolution interrupted his studies. Elected deputy from Paris to the Estates-General, he was elected president of the Third Estate (5 May 1789), led the famous proceedings in the Tennis Court (20 June), and - immediately after the storming of the Bastille - became the first mayor of Paris under the newly adopted system of the Commune (15 July, 1789 to 16 November 1791). One of his actions in this position was to secure, with others, and in the face of threats and ridicule, the passage of a decree of Sept. 27, 1791 (confirmed Nov. 30 of the same year), which declared Jews to be French citizens, with all rights and privileges. This decree repealed the special taxes that had been imposed on the Jews, as well as all the ordinances existing against them. § The dispersal by the National Guard, under his orders, of the riotous assembly in the Champ de Mars (17 July 1791) made him unpopular, and he retired to Nantes, where he composed his Mémoires d'un témoin (published in 3 vols. by MM. Berville and Barrière, 1821-1822), an incomplete narrative of the extraordinary events of his public life. Late in 1793, Bailly left Nantes to join his friend Pierre Simon Laplace at Melun, but was there recognized, arrested and brought (10 November) before the Revolutionary Tribunal at Paris. On 12 November he was guillotined amid the insults of a howling mob. In the words of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, "He met his death with patient dignity; having, indeed, disastrously shared the enthusiasms of his age, but taken no share in its crimes." The lunar crater Bailly was named in his honor. [Megakles Rogakos 12/2009]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
CHAPIN, SEYMOUR L. Bailly, Jean-Sylvain in Dictionary of Scientific Biography 1970 Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, p.400-402
BAILLY, JEAN SYLVAIN 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.)
ARAGO, FRANÇOIS Memoir read on 26 February 1844 before the Academie des Sciences 1852 Notices Biographiques, v.ii.
DELAMBRE Histoire de l'Astronomie au 18me siecle, p.735
DE LALANDE, JEROME Bibliographie Astronomique, p.730

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