Employed in 1807 in the manuscript department of the imperial library, he passed to the chair of Greek in Rouen in 1809, entered the Academy of Inscriptions in 1815, taught Hebrew and Aramaic in the Collège de France from 1819, and finally in 1827 became professor of Persian in the School of Living Oriental Languages.
Quatremère's first work was Recherches ... sur la langue et la littérature de l'Egypte (1808), showing that the language of ancient Egypt must be sought in Coptic. His translation of Al-Makrizi's Arabic history of the Mameluke sultans (2 vols., 1837-41) shows his erudition at the best. He published among other works Mémoires sur les Nabatéens (1835); a translation of Rashid al-Din's Hist. des Mongols de la Perse (1836); Mém. géog. et hist. sur l'Egypte (1810); the text of Ibn Khaldun's Prolegomena; and a vast number of useful memoirs in the Journal asiatique. His numerous reviews in the Journal des savants should also be mentioned.
Quatremère made great lexicographic collections in Oriental languages, fragments of which appear in the notes to his various works. His manuscript material for Syriac has been utilized in Payne Smith's Thesaurus; of the slips he collected for a projected Arabic, Persian and Turkish lexicon some account is given in the preface to Dozy, Supp. aux dict. arabés. They are now in the Munich library.
A biographical notice by M Barthélemy Sainte-Hilaire is prefixed to Quatremère's Mélanges d'histoire et de philologie orientale (1861).