Champollion, Jean François

BORN 23 Dec 1790, Figeac, Lot - DIED 4 Mar 1832, Paris
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Père Lachaise, Rue du Repos 16 (division 18, ligne 01, U, 24)

Jean François Champollion was known as the decipherer of Egyptian hieroglyphs and a founder of Egyptology. He was the son of the booktrader Jacques Champollion, who was known as a drunkard. In 1801 he went from Figeac to Grenoble to join his elder brother Jaques-Joseph. He attended the school of Abbé Dussert until 1804 and his gift for languages became clear at that time. He was noticed by Joseph Fourier, who had accompanied Napoleon to Egypt, where the Rosetta Stone had been discovered. By 1806 he was strongly interested in old Egypt and from 1807 to 1809 he studied in Pairs under silvestre de Sacy and Louis-Mathieu Langlès. In 1808 he started studying the Rosetta Stone.

In 1807 he fell in live with his sister in law Pauline Berriat. She didn't love him and he had an affair with a married woman named Louise Deschamps. In 1810 he was appointed assistant professor of Ancient History in Grenoble at the newly opened university. In 1815 Napoleon returned to France and on his way to Paris he met with Champollion in Grenoble. He requested Champollion to send his manuscripts to Paris for publication. At the end of the Hundred Days the Champollion brothers sheltered general Drouet d'Erlon who had been sentenced to death and they helped him escape to Munich. Champollion lost his position in Grenoble and was exiled to Figeac with his brother.

In 1818 he married Rosine Blanc (1794-1871), who came from a family of glovemakers from Grenoble. They had a daughter, Zoraïde Chéronnet-Champollion (1824-1889). In 1821 he led an uprising, storming the citadel in Greboble. He was charged with treason but pardoned afterwards. During a visit to Livorno he became infatuated with the poet Angelica Pailli. They corresponded between 1826 and 1829 but they didn't become lovers.

In 1822 he published part of his decipherment of the Rosetta Stone in a letter to Bon-Joseph Dacier, the secretary of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. He read his letter before the assembled Académie in the presence of his competitor Thomas Young. They met and parted on friendly terms, but later Young felt that he hadn't received the credit that was due to him for his own first stepts in the decipherment.

In 1826 he was appointed curator of the Egyptian collections of the Louvre. In 1827 he went on an expedition to Egypt with his follower Ippolito Rosellini. Back in Paris he became professor of Egyptian history and archaeology at the Collège de France in 1831. But is health was failing and he died of a stroke in Paris in 1832.

Related persons
• was sculpted by Bartholdi, Auguste
• was painted by Cogniet, Léon


The grave of Jean François Champollion at Père Lachaise, Paris.
Picture by Androom (02 Nov 2018)


Jean-François Champollion - Wikipedia

Chanel, Coco

Published: 10 Jan 2021
Last update: 10 Jan 2021