Auguste Ambroise Tardieu  

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Auguste Ambroise Tardieu (April 10, 1818 – January 12, 1879) was a French medical doctor and the pre-eminent forensic medical scientist of the mid-19th century.

Tardieu's specialties were forensic medicine and toxicology. His authoritative book on forensic toxicology (Étude médico-légale et clinique sur l'empoisonnement) has been called a model of clarity and clinical precision.

Over his 23-year career, Tardieu was asked to participate in 5,238 cases as a forensic expert, including many famous and notorious historical crimes. Using his cases as a statistical base, Tardieu wrote over a dozen volumes of forensic analysis, covering such diverse areas as abortion, drowning, hanging, insanity, poisoning, suffocation, syphilis, and tattoos (Labbé, 2005). Additionally -- and controversially during his lifetime -- Tardieu wrote what may be the first medical or scientific book on child sexual abuse. Far more successful were Tardieu's publications on the terrible working conditions of young boys and girls in mines and factories. For example, his study of copper workers (both child and adult) led to a radical improvement in their working conditions (Labbé, 2005).

Tardieu's ecchymoses, subpleural spots of ecchymosis that follow the death of a newborn child by strangulation or suffocation, were first described by Tardieu in 1859, and were so named in his honor.



The son of artist and mapmaker Ambroise Tardieu, he achieved his Doctorate in Medicine at the Faculté de Médecine of Paris. He was President of the French Academy of Medicine, as well as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Professor of Legal Medicine at the University of Paris.

Child sexual abuse

The first published work dedicated specifically to child sexual abuse appeared in France in 1857: Medical-Legal Studies of Sexual Assault (Etude Médico-Légale sur les Attentats aux Mœurs), by Auguste Ambroise Tardieu, the noted French pathologist and pioneer of forensic medicine (Masson, 1984, pp. 15–25).


The following is a list of his works:

  • 1843: De la morve et du farcin chronique chez l’homme.
  • 1849-50: Mémoire sur les modifications physiques et chimiques que détermine dans certaines parties du corps l’exercice des diverse professions, pour servir à la recherche médico-légale de l’identité.
  • 1852: Voiries et cimetières.
  • 1855: Études hygiéniques sur la profession de mouleur en cuivre, pour servir à l’histoire des professions exposées aux poussières inorganiques.
  • 1855: Étude médico-légale sur le tatouage considéré comme signe d’identité.
  • 1856: Étude médico-légale sur l’avortement, suivie d’observations et de recherches pour servir à l’histoire médico-légale des grossesses fausses et simulées.
  • 1856: Étude historique et médico-légale sur les sur la fabrication et l’emploi des alumettes chimiques.
  • 1857: Étude médico-légale sur les attentats aux moeurs.
  • 1852-54: Dictionnaire d’hygiène publique et de salubrité.
  • 1860: Etude médico-légale sur les sévices et mauvais traitements exercés sur des enfants <ref>published in Annales d'hygiène publique et de médecine légale</ref>
  • 1864: Étude médico-légale sur les maladies provoquées ou communiquées comprenant l’histoire médico-légale de la syphilis et de ses divers modes de ransmission.
  • 1867: Étude médico-légale et clinique sur l'empoisonnement.
  • 1868: Étude médico-légale sur l’infanticide.
  • 1870: Étude médico-légale sur la pendaison, la strangulation, les suffocations.
  • 1872: Étude médico-légale sur la folie.
  • 1879: Étude médico-légale sur les maladies produites accidentellement ou involontairement.
  • 1879: Étude sur les blessures.

See also

  • Jean Tardieu (1903-1995), was a French artist, musician, poet and dramatic author.

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