Monsieur Ripamonti, ca. 1790 - ca. 1850
Grégoire-Lucien Ripamonti, ca. 1820 - ca. 1890

by Brian Stevenson
last updated January, 2020

Only a single microscope is known that bears the Ripamonti name, to the best of my knowledge (Figure 1). It is almost certain that Ripamonti did not manufacture that microscope. Nonetheless, that business is included in this series because the microscope that they sold provides information on the person who probably did make it: Marie-François Kruines (1799-1866), of Paris. A review of the lives and works of the Ripamonti father and son also gives insights on scientific instrument manufacture and retail in provincial France.

Figure 1. A ca. 1830s microscope that is signed “Ripamonti à Bordeaux” on the foot. The customized case is lined with fine leather, with metallic thread outlining each compartment. Three other, essentially identical microscopes and cases are known, two labeled as sold by Kruines and the other by Pixii (Figure 2). The Ripamonti business was known as makers of barometers, compasses and other nautical apparatus, while the Pixii family primarily manufactured instruments for examining physical phenomena. In contrast, the Kruines family were well-known for their microscopes. In 1834, Marie-François Kruines was awarded a Bronze Medal at the Exposition of French Industry for “microscopes d'une construction particulière dont il est inventeur” (“microscopes of a particular construction of which he is an inventor”), of which “il a simplifié la monture et a conservé rigoureusement les soins voulus dans la partie de l'optique” (“he simplified the frame and rigorously maintained the necessary care with the optics”). Images adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from an internet auction site.


Figure 2. Three microscopes that are essentially identical to the instrument shown in Figure 1, differing only in the designs of the feet. Microscopes A and B carry paper labels from Kruines, Paris, and microscope C is engraved with “Pixii à Paris”. The bulk of evidence indicates that all of these microscopes, and that shown in Figure 1, were manufactured ca. 1830s by Marie-François Kruines. Images adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from internet sale/auction sites.


A Monsieur Ripamonti is known to have been located in Gironde, Bordeaux, in 1820, manufacturing ‘baromètres, ist. de physique”. He was not listed in the 1817 trade directory, suggesting that Ripamonti established his business during the late 1810s.

In 1860 and 1861, Grégoire-Lucien Ripamonti of Gironde, “Optician to the Imperial Navy”, was awarded patents for improvements to nautical compasses. Another patent was issued in 1873 to “Lucien Ripamonti and Daniel Ripamonti, Opticians, of Caudéran, near Bordeaux, France”.

That 1873 patent record provides important familial information. Philippe Daniel Ripamonti was born on May 10, 1846, in Gironde, Bordeaux. He later became a notable photographer. A biography of Daniel Ripamonti states that he was a “fils d’un opticien” (“son of an optician”).

Logically, Daniel Ripamonti’s father was Grégoire-Lucien Ripamonti. It is reasonable to guess that Daniel’s father would have been in his mid-20s to early 30s at the time of the son’s birth, suggesting that Grégoire-Lucien was probably born around 1820. The Ripamonti listed in the 1820 trade directory of Gironde was, therefore, likely to have been Grégoire-Lucien’s father. A ca. 1820 birth date for Grégoire-Lucien would also be consistent for the elder Ripamonti establishing his shop during the late 1810s, as the independence of owning his own business would provide the finances necessary to raise a family.

No further information has been found on the Monsieur Ripamonti who founded the business ca. 1820. The microscope shown in Figure 1 was probably produced during the 1830s, so it is most likely that the elder Ripamonti was the retailer.

Little more is known about his son, Grégoire-Lucien Ripamonti. An 1857 guide book of Bordeaux stated that he sold eyeglasses and “tient en outre la spécialité de tous instruments de marine et d’observatoires” (“also has a specialty of all marine instruments and observatories”). Trade directories indicate that Ripamonti also manufactured barometers.

Figure 3. Two nautical compasses, both signed ‘Ripamonti, Opticien de la Marine, Bordeaux”. Grégoire-Lucien Ripamonti specialized in the manufacture of nautical apparatus such as these. Adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from internet auction sites.



Thank you to Joe Zeligs for numerous insightful conversations.



Almanach du Commerce de Paris, des Départments de la France, et des Principales Villes du Monde (1817 onward) accessed through

Bulletin des lois de la Republique Francaise (1862) “Le brevet d'inveution de quinze ans, dont la demande a été déposée, le 26 nevembre 1860, au secrétariat de la préfecture du département de la Gironde, par le sieur Ripamonti (Grégoire-Lucien), fossés du Chapeau-Rouge, n° 10, à Bordeaux, poarun système de boussole”, page 838

Guide-poche de l'Étranger à Bordeaux et dans la Gironde (1857) “Opticiens: M. Ripamonti”, page 187

Portrait Sépia (accessed January, 2020) Daniel Ripamonti (1846-1934),