Lesson was born at Rochefort, and at the age of sixteen he entered the Naval Medical School there. He served in the French navy during the Napoleonic Wars; in 1811 he was third surgeon on the frigate Saal, and in 1813 second surgeon on the Regulus.
He served as surgeon on the round-the-world voyage of La Coquille (1822-1825), and was also responsible for collecting natural history specimens with his fellow surgeon Prosper Garnot. He was the first naturalist to see live birds of paradise in the Moluccas and New Guinea.
On returning to Paris he spent seven years preparing the vertebrate zoological section of the official account of the expedition, Voyage au tour du monde sur La Coquille (1826-39). During this time he also produced Manuel d'Ornithologie (1828), Traité d'Ornithologie (1831), Centurie Zoologique (1830-32) and Illustrations de Zoologie (1832-35). He also produced several monographs on hummingbirds and one book on birds of paradise.
His experience as a ship's surgeon resulted in his two-volume Manuel d'Histoire Naturelle Médicale et de Pharmacologie (1833), intended as a handbook for all naval surgeons.
In 1832 Lesson was appointed pharmacist-in-chief of the French navy in Rochefort.
Categories: 1794 births | 1849 deaths | French Navy officers | French naturalists | French physicians
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