Johann Nepomuk von Fuchs
Chemist and mineralogist; b. at Mattenzell, near Bremberg, Lower Bavaria, May 15, 1774; d. at Munich, March 5, 1856
Fuchs, JOHANN NEPOMUK VON, chemist and mineralogist; b. at Mattenzell, near Bremberg, Lower Bavaria, May 15, 1774; d. at Munich, March 5, 1856. He originally studied medicine, but after the year 1801 devoted himself to chemistry and mineralogy. Following the custom of his country, he pursued his studies at various universities: Heidelberg, Berlin, Freiburg, and Paris. In 1805 he taught chemistry and mineralogy at the University of Landshut, and at Munich in 1826. In 182.3 he was nominated a member of the Academy of Sciences, and in 1854 conservator of the Museum of Mineralogy of Munich; two years before his death, the honor of nobility was conferred upon him by the King of Bavaria. He received many other honors. His memoirs, which are numerous, and play an important part in the development of the sciences of mineralogy and chemistry, are given in the collections of the Munich Academy, in Kastner’s “Archives”, Poggendorff’s “Annalen”, Dingler’s “Journal”, and other publications.
He wrote several books, among others one “On the Present Influence of Chemistry and Mineralogy” (Munich, 1824); one on the “Theories of the Earth” (Munich, 1824); “Natural History of the Mineral Kingdom” (Kempten, 1842); and a work on the preparation, properties, and uses of soluble glass (Munich, 1857). His name is to this day associated with soluble glass, an alkaline silicate used in a special kind of fresco painting, called stereochromy, so much so that sometimes it is called Fuchs’s soluble glass. Today soluble glass is also used in the application of bandages in surgery. His discovery of water glass was published in 1823. He pursued his researches in other departments of technical knowledge, his work on cement being particularly valuable. He retired from active life in 1852.
His collected works, produced by the committee of the central administration of the polytechnic union in the Kingdom of Bavaria, were edited, with his necrology, by Kaiser (Munich, 1856). His work included investigations on the replacement of one chemical group by another in minerals; the discovery of the amorphic state of several bodies; the artificial production of ultramarine and improvements in the dyeing industry, in the manufacture of beet-root sugar, and in brewing. A variety of muscovite, containing nearly four per cent of chromium (chrome mica), is named “Fuchsite” after him. Fuchs, who owed his early education to Frauenzell and the suppressed Jesuits at Ratisbon, was throughout his life a practical and earnest Catholic.
T. O’CONOR SLOANE.