International subscription Joseph Fourier Statue



The project

The objective of this project is to promote the work of Joseph Fourier and to solicit contributions for the creation of a statue of Joseph Fourier.

Although the scientific achievements of Joseph Fourier can be found in the most current technologies, such as mobile phones or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), his name remains largely unknown to the general public. His humaneness, imposed in his various social responsibilities is also unknown ; for example, thanks to Joseph Fourier, for the first time, a scientific woman was allowed to attend the French Academy of Sciences’ sessions.

Joseph Fourier was born in Auxerre. His work is of fundamental importance in today’s research and technology applications. His scientific legacy is still present in the research in his home town, Auxerre, with the Laboratoire Electronique, Informatique et Image (UMR CNRS 6306) as well as in other Burgundy sites such as le Creusot, Chalon and Dijon.
After previous public events dedicated to Joseph Fourier, it became obvious that Joseph Fourier and his legacy needed to be valorised. Furthmore the bronze statue erected in Auxerre in 1849 was destroyed during World War II, and so there is any statue of this illustrious mathematician in France. In light of this, we invite all the people and/or organisations willing to take part in this project to contribute to the realisation and erection of a monument in memory of Joseph Fourier in his home town, Auxerre.

The subscription sponsorship committee is currently under the presidency of Jean-Pierre Kahane (member of the French Academy of Sciences) and supported by Cédric Villani (the 2010 Fields Medal recipient). Some other support members : Emmanuel Candès (Stanford University, 2006 Waterman Award), Patrick Flandrin and Jean-Pierre Demailly (French Academy of Sciences), Mohamed Najim (TWAS Medal), Laure Blanc-Féraud (director GdR 720 ISIS – CNRS) …

Joseph Fourier in few words…
Why Joseph Fourier ?

In 1812, Joseph Fourier was awarded the prize of the French Academy of Sciences. Nowadays recognized as one of the greatest names in Science, member of the French Academy of Sciences, of the « Academie Française », and of the British Royal Society, Fourier is not only a scientist, but also a model we can be proud of ! Moreover, he has left a universal and omnipresent scientific legacy both in fundamental and applied science.
Fourier was born in a modest family. Orphan at the age of eight, he was raised by an organist. Then he studied at Auxerre high-school where he returned to become a teacher. He took a prominent active part in the French Revolution, notably among the popular society of Auxerre.

In 1795, he was admitted to the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris and later taught at the Ecole Polytechnique. As a prominent scientist, Fourier accompanied Napoléon Bonaparte in his Egyptian expedition in 1798 and was appointed Prefect of the department of Isère from 1802 to 1815. During this period, he published his « theory of heat ». The department of Isère honored him by giving his name to a University in Grenoble : Joseph Fourier University. He was elected to the French Academy of Sciences in1816 for his work on heat. He became the perpetual Secretary of the Academy in 1822 and worked on the theory of statistics. He died in Paris on May 16th, 1830. He was buried at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. His grave lies close to the grave of his friend François Champollion.

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One of the greatest names in Science

« Fourier’s Theory of Heat is one of the first examples of the application of mathematical analysis to physics (…). The results he obtained are interesting, but what is even more interesting is the method he used to obtain them, a method that will always serve as a model to those who will tackle some branch of mathematical physics. » Henri Poincaré
« For one of the first time in the history of physics, in this differential equation can be found several parameters of different nature, including temperature, time, length, specific heat, « density », heat conductivity, … The study of the general case led him to introduce the notion of transform (the Fourier Transform) that was named after him. » J. B Robert
« Fourier’s theorem is not only one of the most beautiful result of modern analysis, but it is said to furnish an indispensable instrument in the treatment of nearly every recondite question in modern physics…Fourier is a mathematical poem. » Lord Kelvin

See also about Fourier and the Greenhouse effect !

Today : modernity and universality of Fourier

Extracts from Le Retour de Fourier de J.P. Kahane (Académie des Sciences)

« From natural phenomena (…), to bring out general methods, and to conclude by giving methods of numerical calculus (…) »
« However, the comeback of Fourier was imminent (…) within the development of pure mathematics (…) Fourier was the first to correctly and completely understand the nature of trigonometric series. » « The true impact of Fourier’s formulae appears more clearly today : they constitute a program. The meaning attributed to functions, series and integrals may vary (…). It is the task of mathematicians to introduce the concepts and the tools that validate the formulae. »
« The title (…) of the book written by Dhombres and Robert is Fourier -Créateur de la physique mathematique. The notion of flux (…) is so often used that its origin can be almost forgotten, the flux of heat. The equation of heat, with the equation of vibrating ropes and the equation of potential, are the trinity of the partial derivatives equations, fundamental in physics. The theory of the Brownian movement and the study of all the diffusion phenomena have emphasized their interest. Fourier series and Fourier
integrals are fundamental in the signal theory and in its variations (…) ».

The human dimension

Fourier served the public good, not only in Auxerre where he joined the revolutionary cause, but also as Prefect in Isère, where his actions had profound impact on the department, even nowadays.

He acted as a righteous and courageous man in the department of Yonne where he defended the Revolution even if it meant disobeying for saving lives at his own peril.

His science and personality must be used to promote and develop science,
technical innovation and industry.

The subscription

An emblematic homage to promote a better recognition of Fourier’s stature : Fourier – international subscription – 4 pages (pdf)

It has already obtained the support of the Mayor and the Deputy.

All these information are extracted from « compte rendu des journees Fourier du 5 avril 2011 » available at : Plaquette Journée Fourier 20-22 juin 2012 (pdf)

If you want to know more about Joseph Fourier, please read our bibliography at

If you want to know more about the Fourier Day, an event that has been organised for 3 years, in order to pay homage to the illustrious Auxerre native, ex : Plaquette Journée Fourier 20-22 juin 2012 (pdf)