Laboratoire et table des Raports

The upper part of this engraving represents a well-stocked chemical laboratory with two well-dressed men (identified in the accompanying text as a physician and a chemist) and four workers. The lower part is an affinity table-showing the relative disposition of various substances to unite with one another-that was copied almost directly from the table that the French chemist Étienne-François Geoffroy had published in 1718. While the chemical symbols used in this table would soon be displaced by those introduced by Antoine Lavoisier and his collaborators, this image indicates the robust tradition of systematically studying the relationships among chemical substances that was well established in France, and elsewhere, by the early 18th century.
This engraving was the first of the “Chimie” plates in vol. 3 of the Recueil de Planches, sur les sciences, les arts libéraux, et les arts méchaniques (Paris, 1763). The illustrations formed a key part of the Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers organized by Denis Diderot and other philosophes. This image is unnumbered and, unlike the other plates in this series, it extends over two pages.
The signatures at the bottom of the image read “Goussier del” and “Prevost fecit.” Jacques-Louis Goussier (1722-1729) drew more than 900 plates for the Encyclopédie. Benoit Louis Prevost engraved many plates for this work.
Ref: Charles C. Gillispie, ed., A Diderot Pictorial Encyclopedia of Trades and Industry (New York, 1993).
Mi Gyung Kim, Affinity, That Elusive Dream (Cambridge, Mass., 2003), p. 136.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 15 3/4 in x 19 in; 40.005 cm x 48.26 cm
place made
France: Île-de-France, Paris
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Prints from the Physical Sciences Collection
Science & Mathematics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Prints from the Physical Sciences Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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