Avogadro - the man
Lorenzo Romano Amedeo Carlo Avogadro, conte di Quaregna e di Cerreto (1776 - 1856), was born in Turin, Italy, on 9th August, 1776. He was the son of Count Filippo Avogadro and Anna Maria Vercellone. His father was a distinguished lawyer and civil servant, becoming a senator of Piedmont in 1768, and was appointed advocate general to the senate of Vittorio Amedeo III in 1777. Under the French rule of 1799 he was made president of the senate.
Amedeo Avogadro went to school in Turin. Coming from a family of well established ecclesiastical lawyers, Avogadro was guided toward a legal career, and became a bachelor of jurisprudence in 1792, at the ripe old age of just 16 years. Four years later he gained his doctorate in ecclesiastical law and began to practice. In 1801 he was appointed secretary to the prefecture of the department of Eridano.
In spite of his successful legal career, Avogadro also showed an interest in natural philosophy, and in 1800 he began private studies of mathematics and physics. His first scientific research in 1803, undertaken jointly with his brother Felice, was on electricity.
In 1806, Avogadro was appointed demonstrator at the Academy of Turin, and in 1809 became professor of natural philosophy at the college of Vercelli. In 1820, when the very first chair of mathematical physics in Italy was established at the University of Turin, Avogadro was appointed. Unfortunately, his post was short lived, since political changes suppressed the chair and Avogadro was out of a job by July, 1822. The chair was eventually reestablished in 1832, and Avogadro was reappointed to the position in 1834. Here he remained until his retirement in 1850.
Avogadro had succeeded to his father's title in 1787. He married Felicita Mazzé, and they had a total of six children. Avogadro led an industrious life, and was a modest man, working in isolation. This probably contributed to his relative obscurity, particularly outside Italy. Avogadro died on the 9th July, 1856. He was described as religious, but not a bigot.