The Portrait of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his wife is a double portrait of the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier and his wife and collaborator Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, commissioned from the French painter Jacques-Louis David in 1788 by Marie-Anne (who had been taught drawing by David).
For years, this painting was listed simply as Portrait of M. Lavoisier in the Metropolitan Museum of Art files, neglecting the fact that the painter Jacques-Louis David placed Mme Lavoisier gloriously in the center of the canvas, staring directly at the viewer.
The omission might have been due to the fact that Antoine Lavoisier is an 18th century scientific superstar. Before getting beheaded in the French Revolution, he was the first to correctly explain the chemistry behind burning, rusting and respiration. He also studied infectious disease in urban zones, named the element oxygen and helped develop the metric system.
Meanwhile, Marie Anne Pierrette Paulze Lavoisier’s fascinating life and contributions to science have often been neglected.