The pneumatic machine served to create a vacuum by sucking out the air in a glass bell. In the Age of Enlightenment it was used for various experiments, especially on the nature of air. Investigators observed that candles went out in a vacuum and that small animals could not survive without air. The abbé Nollet, an eminent natural philosopher recognised for the quality of his work, used this machine, which is lavishly decorated in red and black with gold highlights. Nollet made science understandable to the layman, and high society flocked to his famous lectures on experimental physics at the Collège de Navarre in Paris. His spectacular experiments entertained and educated the audience at the same time.


  • Title: Pneumatic machine
  • Creator: Jean Antoine Nollet
  • Date: Middle of the 18th century
  • Date Created: Middle of the 18th century
  • Location: France
  • Provenance: Musée des arts et métiers
  • Type: Bois, bronze, laiton, verre, fer
  • Contributor: Author : Lionel Dufaux
  • Inventory number: Inv. 06923
  • Credits: © Musée des arts et métiers-Cnam/photo Michèle Favareille

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