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#119 - Charles Minard

Sent the August 23rd
Author face
Article written by
Juan Jesús Millo

Writing of the week

Charles Joseph Minard (1781 -1870) was a prominent French civil engineer recognized for his remarkable work in the field of information graphics.

Minard pioneered the use of statistical and technical graphics. He is generally recognized for his Carte figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l'Armée Française dans la campagne de Russie 1812-1813, a chart published in 1869 on the disastrous Russian campaign of the Napoleonic army of 1812. The chart shows different variables in a single two-dimensional image:

  • the situation and direction of the troops, showing how the units are divided and regrouped
  • the surge of the troops (note for example the crossing of the Bereziná river in the retreat)
  • the decline of temperatures and how this influences the casualties.

Edward Tufte called it "the best statistical graph ever drawn" using it as a paradigm in his work The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Howard Wainer would also qualify it as a gem of information graphics, nominating it in his World's Champion Graph.

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