Louis Albert Necker de Saussure HFRSE MWS FGS (April 10, 1786 – November 20, 1861) was a Swiss crystallographer and geographer.[1]

Necker cube on the left, impossible cube on the right.

He is best remembered for devising the optical illusion now known as the Necker cube.[2]


He was born in the Republic of Geneva, the son of botanist Professor Jacques Necker, nephew and namesake of statesman Jacques Necker, and Albertine Necker de Saussure.[3][4][5]

He was educated in Geneva, then sent to Edinburgh University in Scotland to study Sciences from 1806 to 1808.

He returned to Scotland in 1841 and settled on the Isle of Skye, lodging with the Cameron family at Bosville Terrace in Portree. His scientific interests turned to astronomy and a study of the aurora borealis. In 1843 and 1845, he was joined by his friend, James Forbes, a glaciologist. Together, they made the first accurate map of the Cuillins.[6]

He spent his later life mountaineering and collecting ornithological specimens. He died in Portree on 20 November 1861.[7] He is buried next to the Cameron family in the Portree churchyard.[8