Biography of Antonio Martí y Franqués (1750-1832)

Spanish scientist born in Altafulla, Tarragona, in 1750 and died in Tarragona in 1832. He/She was born of a noble and wealthy Catalan family, which had spread their interests in different regions close to Tarragona. He/She made his early studies in his own home, until, at the age of fourteen, he/she entered the University of Cervera, following the custom of his ancestors; Although Martí stay is documented at the University, nothing is known about of how time was prolonged, although it seems to be able to make sure that did not obtain any title.

A well-known aspect of his training is its deep knowledge of latin, Greek, French, German, English and Italian, languages which allowed him to both the cultivation of classics such as continuous a day on the scientific issues of his time. The remains of your library catalog impresses by the presence of many authors highlighted in the disciplines that he/she cultivated and collections of scientific journals which came to accumulate.

In 1800, when he/she was already a well-known scientist, he/she made a trip to the end of the following year, during which he/she visited scientific institutions in Paris, London, the Hague, Amsterdam, Brussels and other major European cities. This was an exceptional event, since Martí was just abandoning their farms of Tarragona, busy as it was in its investigations, the administration of their estates and export businesses.

Marti is known for the precision of its studies on the composition of the air, but their fundamental interest focused on botany and especially in the plant physiology; in fact, his studies on gases were for it complementary to its core business character.

Chronologically, the first of his memoirs that remains is that with the title present "on some of the productions which result from the combination of various aeriformes substances" in 1787 at the Royal Academy of Sciences and arts of Barcelona. Certainly, Martí became interested in these themes played Jan Ingen-Housz experiences about the aires detached by plants. Memory is a sunset a day on research on gases, with special reference to the composition and decomposition of water. Against the opinion of Joseph Priestley, Marti is shown according to Lavoisier in the absence of the Phlogiston. This memory it is that presents a less personal contributions, but is it evidence of solid preparation of Marti and its ability to raise and resolve their experiences, well equipped laboratory which had mounted to the effect. In the same year a new memory presented Martí in the cited Academy, under the title "The vital air plants and particularly the pita", which is only preserved handwritten summary of the author. Priestley and Ingen-Housz methods outlined in it to collect and assess the oxygen released by plants and the experiences of Martí; the results obtained among the leaves of plants submerged in water and exposed to the Sun give off oxygen at any time of the year, the pita is distinguished for its high production of oxygen and release speed is a function of the intensity of the light.

Memory that was given to Marti as chemist is entitled "on the amount of vital air that is found in the atmospheric air and on several methods of meeting", read at the repeated Academy in 1790 and reproduced total or partially in various publications of Spanish and foreign; by the way, mutilation of some passages and the poor translation of others, prevented a proper valuation of Martí in some European circles, as it was revealed Jean-Baptiste Biot, after personally trying to Martí, in a famous letter to Claude Louis Berthollet. In this memory, Martí showed irrefutable way that the oxygen content of the atmosphere is 21 percent, without ever reaching 22; about the same time, Lavoisier argued that there was a 27 percent oxygen.

Martí made their checks in very different conditions and understood that the possible variations of the oxygen content of the air would be below the precision of the method used, which reached to the hundredths. About these variations, estimates that they will only be valued "when known media that relies on nature to regenerate oxygen constantly consumed by the combustion and breathing processes". All of this memory is full of sharp observations and original solutions to experimental problems; It is an ingenious artifice to reduce normal measurements of pressure and temperature of the gases. A capillary siphon of his invention is also notable to keep constant the humidity of the pots that cultivated plants.

In 1790, Martí entered as partner free in the Royal Academy Medico-practica of Barcelona, where in 1791 gave reading their "experiments and observations on the sexes and fertilisation of plants". He/She started Martí these investigations when Lázaro Spallanzani published in 1785 a work which was intended to have demonstrated that the theory of Linnaeus of the sexuality of plants was not applicable to all of these.

He chose Martí four species used (watermelon, pumpkin, spinach and hemp) and was able to show that in no case could be achieved fertilization without the competition of flowers of both sexes, venturing forms that fertilization could occur in little obvious circumstances. There are no more documents published by Martí, although Yes there are many of his annotations.

The destruction of much of their equipment and the loss of their notes during the French plundering of 1811 meant a hard loss for Martí, mature man at the time, which did not find a fruitful vein in its further investigations. In the field of Botany his interest shifted to the artificial production of plants, which was believed possible for a reordering of the inorganic matter; some of their comments refer also to the phototropism, with quantitative data.

Martí was very interested in other aspects of science, from archeology to meteorology and certain issues of physics. Thus, for example, studied variations which experiences the temperature of boiling water in a vacuum and also by the addition of hydrochloric acid; He/She also understood the importance of the wet thermometer temperature. In his notes contained amount of annotation of readings from barometers and thermometers that had lavishly installed in their farms.

Apart from the scientific societies that we have referred to, Marti was among the founders of the economic society of friends of the country of Tarragona (1787) and participated in the creation of the Academy of Arts of Tarragona (1801). His withdrawn life prevented him from personal contact with the scientific world, reduced to his friendship with Francisco Carbonell and Bravo, Agustín Yáñez and Girona, Francisco Sampots and Francisco Salva Campillo. The great influence that could have Martí on the botanical formation of Mariano Lagasca safe, with whom he/she coincided during this stay in Tarragona has signed up.



The memories that have been cited, fragments from the diary of Martí and other important documents were printed on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death: Antoni de Martí i Franquès, Memories originals. Estudi biogràfic documentary i [Memories of Academy of Ciències i Arts de Barcelona], Barcelona: López nephews Robert, 1935.


MOLES ORMELLA, e.: scientific moment Spanish 1775-1825 [discourse of admission to the Royal Academy of Sciences], Madrid: C. Bermejo, 1934.QUINTANA I MARI, a.: "Martí D'ardenya, Ciutadà i home of science", in science (Revista Catalana de Ciencia i Tecnologia), no. 7, 1932, pp. 100-111.FONT I QUER, p.: "Martí Franqués, botanic", Ibid., pp. 112-114.ESTALELLA, j.: "Martí Franqués, fisic i meteoroleg", Ibid., pp. 115-118.MOLES, e.: "the tasca d' Marti in the camp of chemistry", Ibid., pp. 119-123.

Eugenio PORTELA framework