The Chemistry Institute at the Old University site (1850-1878)

The chemistry institute was placed in the building at Bürgergasse 2, the former College of Jesuits

jesuits college place of the old university
Engraving of the Old University ......... Photograph of this site nowadays

Time Chairmen, coworkers, events Portraits, photos and links

The first head of the chemistry institute was Franz HRUSCHAUER (born 1807 in Vienna, +1858 in Graz). He was professor of preclinical studies and gave lectures in analytical chemistry since 1845. Since 1836 he was professor of the medical school of the university of Graz and in 1850 appointed as professor of chemistry at the faculty of philosophy. Due to his efforts the foundation of the chemical institute at the faculty of philosophy in 1851 was performed by emperor Ferdinand I.

Hruschauer was a student of Jacquin and Liebig, however, he was not a chemist from his education: he had studied medicine in Vienna, and written his thesis (1931, Vienna) in latin about a medical subject.

Chemistry had developed in the beginning of the 19th century from a trade and an auxiliary branch of medicine, biology and pharmacy to an individual science. It was Liebig in Giessen (1926) who began with a systematical teaching of chemists in laboratories and his student Hruschauer followed these ideas. His research interest and teaching was mainly directed to analytical, medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry. However there are no publications of Hruschauer known from his time as head of the chemistry institute. His earlier work about proteins lacked because of the missing theoretical requirements: Inorganic compounds and inorganic analytics, together with a large number of physico-chemical laws were already known to the chemists in that time, however, the principles of organic chemistry were unknown at this time (Kekule´s methane formula: 1857, benzene formula: 1865).

In 1853 the study of pharmacy was introduced at the university of Graz. The first scientist who got the venia legendi for chemistry (in 1855, for "theoretical chemistry") at the faculty of philosophy of the University of Graz, was Leopold von PEBAL, later head of this institute. His studies however had been done at the university of technology of Graz.
Unfortunately the conditions and equipment for teaching and research at the university were not as well as at the Joanneum (the later University of Technology of Graz). There was also only a very small number of students who worked in practical laboratory courses.


After Hruschauer's death, Franz KLINGER, assistant of Hruschauer, and then Johann GOTTLIEB (born 1815 in Brünn, +1875 in Graz), professor of chemistry at the Joanneum (the later university of technology of Graz) were temporary heads of the institute. Gottlieb had studied pharmacy and was student of Redtenbacher. He did research work already in organic chemistry and discovered propionic acid by degradation of .

In this time the chemistry institute was merely a school for students of pharmacy; after Klinger had left the university of Graz, there could no student of Hruschauer be found as follower of Klinger as assistant.

Johann Gottlieb

The next professor of chemistry and head was Theodor WERTHEIM (born 1820 in Vienna, +1864 in Vienna). First Wertheim studied philology in Vienna, then he began to study chemistry. He was student of Mitscherlich (Berlin), Redtenbacher (Prag) and Gottlieb (Graz) and Bunsen (Heidelberg), however he did never obtain a doctoral degree. In 1850 he got his venia in Vienna. He was professor of chemistry in Pest until 1860 but he had to leave Hungary because since 1860 all lectures had to be held in Latin and not in German (in this manner a large number of german speaking scientists left Hungary). His publications dealt with allylisothiocyanates and the isolation of alkaloids (Conhydrin).

Wertheim tried to improve the laboratory equipment, but his time as head of the institute was too short to achieve better conditions. Under Wertheims guidance, a small number of chemistry students (below 10) studied in Graz. Wertheim did his research in the labs (mainly investigations on coniin). However also in this era, the labs of the university of technology had a better equipment and more funds which attracted chemistry students.

In this era Richard MALY (born 1839 in Graz, +1891 in Prag, student of Gottlieb) got in 1864 the venia legendi for chemistry, although his studies again were performed at the faculty of medicine and at the university of technology. His research fields were physiological and medicinal chemistry


After Wertheim's early death (probably caused because the apartments of the chemistry head were in neighbourship to his laboratory, so that he was exhibited to all vapors and gases of poisonous alkaloids of his research), again Johann GOTTLIEB was temporary head of the chemistry institute; Richard MALY was assistant and did the practical work.


Beginning from 1865 Leopold von PEBAL (born 1826 in Seckau/Styria, +1887 in Graz) (see also next page) was the head of the chemistry institute. He studied jurisprudence and then chemistry at the university of technology in Graz as student of Gottlieb. In 1851 he got there his doctoral degree, and in 1955 he got his venia at the university of Graz. Later Pebal was student of Bunsen, Kekule, Landolt and Lothar Meyer. He visited at several journeys all important chemists in Germany and England and studied the laboratories at these places. He was the first chemist of the university of Graz who shifted the chemical education from the lecture room to the laboratories. The labs of the chemistry institute were bad equipped, but he started to improve the conditions. He planned a new chemistry institute at the university place and moved 1878 into the new chemistry building.

It was Pebal who founded in Graz a "chemical school" and improved the quality of the education of the students. He personified a new type of scientist: he was not a socalled "Privatgelehrter" (independent scholar), but he formed a team of scientists.

Pebal´s era in the new chemistry building (together with many photos) is described on the next page