Relief portrait on the Werner building in Freiberg
He was born in Probstzella. He received his doctorate at the Universities of Jena and Marburg. He studied under Abraham Gottlob Werner at the Freiberg Mining Academy where he received an appointment in 1813 as teacher and lapidary, and became professor of mineralogy after the departure of Friedrich Mohs in 1826. He held that position until 1866.
He is credited with the discovery of 47 valid mineral species. The mineral breithauptite was named in his honor. His work included important contributions to crystallography and the physical and chemical properties of minerals. He developed the concept of mineral paragenesis.
His publications include:
- Ueber die Echtheit der Krystalle (1815, on pseudomorphs)
- Characteristik des Mineral Systems (1820; 3d improved ed., 1832)
- Vollständiges Handbuch der Mineralogie (1841)
- Die Bergstadt Freiberg (1825; 2d ed., 1847)
- Die Paragenesis der Mineralien (1849)
- Bruno Sauer (1955), "Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in German) (Berlin: Duncker & Humblo) 2: 577–577",
- Cornu, F. (1909). "A. Breithaupt, seine Bedeutung für Kolloidchemie und Mineralogie". Zeitschrift für Chemie und Industrie der Kolloide 4 (6): 300. doi:10.1007/BF01468181.
- Martin Guntau, Sieglinde Hach (1974). Friedrich August Breithaupt: 1791 - 1873, Professor für Mineralogie an der Bergakademie Freiberg. Bergakademie.
- "Breithaupt, Johann August Friedrich". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.