Breda, Jacob Gijsbertus Samuël van
Head of Teylers Palaeontological and Mineralogical Cabinet (1839 – 1864) (1788 - 1867)
The son of a well known physicist, Van Breda was born in Delft. He studied medicine and natural
sciences in Leiden,
where he graduated in 1811.
Five years later he became professor at the athenaeum in Franeker where Adriaan Gilles Camper, Petrus Camper's son, was curator. There Van Breda quickly became one of the family, and in 1821 he married Camper's daughter. Shortly afterwards he became professor at the University of Ghent, where he began to make a geological map. Unable to complete this work due to the Belgians' struggle for independence, he returned to the Netherlands in 1830, becoming professor of geology in Leiden a year later. In 1834 his wife died; he remarried in 1836.
In 1839 Van Breda moved to Haarlem, where he was appointed secretary to the Dutch Academy of Sciences, and succeeded Van Marum as head of the Palaeontological and Mineralogical Cabinet and Physics Cabinet at Teylers Museum. He also maintained his professorship in Leiden until 1857. At Teylers, Van Breda did research in the field of electricity and magnetism, mainly in collaboration with instrument-maker W.M. Logeman. He bought many fossils from Oehningen and Solnhofen for the Palaeontological and Mineralogical Cabinet. He also had a large private collection of fossils, most of which ended up in London and Cambridge after his death.
From 1852 to 1855 he was the chairman of the commission that had been set up by Prime Minister Thorbecke to create a geological map of the Netherlands. However, disagreements within this commission led to its early dissolution. In 1864 he laid down his duties in Haarlem, and three years later died after a stroke.