Chevreul, Michel Eugène

Chevreul, Michel Eugène

Chevreul, Michel Eugène (mēshĕlˈ özhĕnˈ shəvrölˈ), 1786–1889, French chemist. He studied under L. N. Vauquelin, was director of the Gobelin tapestry works, and from 1830 was professor, and from 1860 to 1879 director, at the natural history museum at Paris. Noted for his researches in the composition of animal fats (by which he contributed to the development of the soap and candle industry), he discovered and named olein and stearin and wrote Recherches sur les corps gras d'origine animale (1823). He also worked and wrote on color contrasts; the results of his studies influenced the painters Seurat and Signac.
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Chevreul, Michel Éugène


Born Aug. 31, 1786, in Angers; died Apr. 9, 1889, in Paris. French organic chemist. Member of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1826). Professor at the Lycée Charlemagne (from 1813) and the natural history museum in Paris (from 1830).

Chevreul’s main works deal with the chemistry of fats (1810–23). Chevreul established the chemical composition of fats and, by saponification, isolated stearic, oleic, palmitic, and other acids. He gave the name “glycerin” to the “sweet principle of oils and fats” discovered by K. Scheele. Chevreul derived a number of dyes from plants, including hematoxylin (1811), quercitrin (1831), morin (1831), and luteolin (1833); he also derived creatine from meat extract (1835). Chevreul proposed an efficient system of color classification. His research has found applications in the manufacture of soap, stearin, and certain dyes.

Chevreul was a foreign corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1853).


Resume d’une histoire de ia matière depuis les philosophes grecs jusqu’à Lavoisier inclusivement. Paris, 1878.
Recherches chimiques sur les corps gras d’origine animale. Paris, 1889.


Manolov, K. Velikie khimiki, vol. 1. [Moscow] 1976. Pages 294–313. (Translated from Bulgarian.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.