Johannes Scheffer, Lappland, 1675

Special Collections

Jean-Jacques Ampère

700 documents
Printed books, manuscripts

Jean-Jacques Ampère (1800-1864), the son of the famous physicist, was more interested in Romantic literature. He taught foreign literature and literary history, German and Scandinavian in particular, in Marseilles (1830) and then in Paris, at the Sorbonne (1831-1832) and obtained the literature chair at the Collège de France in 1833. A member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (1842) then the Académie française (1847), he became curator of the Bibliothèque Mazarine after Sainte-Beuve in 1848. In 1850, after resigning from this position, he gave part of his private library to the Mazarine. He was a great traveller all his life: Italy (1823), Germany and Sweden (1826-1827) – meeting Goethe, and the Grimm brothers – Greece and Asia (1841), Egypt (1844-1845), Spain (1849), the United States and Mexico, a tour of Europe (1852), Rome (1853). He studied several European languages as well as Chinese and Sanskrit.
Although his collection is often described as a set of books on the "Scandinavian and Germanic civilisations" it is in fact much richer and more diversified, because Ampère also studied medieval French literature, and Roman and Asian history and literature. The literary texts and works dealing with language (dictionaries, grammar books), philology and literary criticism are in the majority, but there are also monographs on the civilisation, history, law and famous men of various countries and regions outside the Germanic cultural area: France, Italy, Central Europe and Russia, the United States, Asia (often in original language editions seldom found in French libraries today) as well as a few periodicals and two manuscripts.
Jean-Jacques Ampère's manuscripts, particularly his correspondence with his father and his personal papers, are kept in the library of the Institut de France.