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ACS News

October 23, 2006
Volume 84, Number 43
p. 64

Bader Lectures on Rembrandt

Cofounder of Aldrich Chemical has a 'fierce' reputation in the art world

Rachel Petkewich

Alfred Bader was working on a Ph.D. in chemistry at Harvard University in the late 1940s when he learned about Rembrandt. As he dashed to a lecture about the Dutch painter, his adviser asked, "Have you made up your mind about being a chemist or an artist?"

"Sixty years later, I still haven't decided," he told a crowd at the Royal Netherlands Embassy, in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 5.

Rachel Petkewich/C&EN
Going Dutch Jacobs (from left), Alfred and Isabel Bader, and Wheelock.

Bader cofounded Aldrich Chemical, which later became Sigma-Aldrich, the world's largest supplier of research chemicals. One way this self-proclaimed "chemist collector" combined his passions for art and chemistry was to put paintings from his collection on the company's catalog covers.

In the preceding two days, Bader had spoken about chemical history and given advice to young scientists at the University of Maryland, College Park, and the National Institutes of Health. He shared his expertise in art as he spoke at the embassy about the Rembrandt Research Project, an ongoing effort with the goal of determining—once and for all—which paintings were painted by Rembrandt himself and which could be attributed to others. Rembrandt was born 400 years ago this year.

Bader is accomplished in the chemistry community, and "his reputation in the art world is fierce," said Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., curator of northern baroque painting at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., as he introduced Bader.

The American Chemical Society and the Chemical Society of Washington sponsored the event. In closing remarks, Madeleine Jacobs, ACS executive director and chief executive officer, thanked Bader and his wife, Isabel, for their contributions to science, art, and culture and for their generous support of ACS awards and scholarships.

Chemical & Engineering News
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