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Thread: Favourite piece of Alchemical art ?

  1. #1
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    Favourite piece of Alchemical art ?

    What's your favourite piece of Alchemical art and why?

    Probably my favourite would be this Engraving from Sabine Stuart de Chevalier Discours philosophique, Paris, 1781.



    You see the Alchemist shown in two different time frames. Sitting crying because he has been unsuccessful. He is old and looking at his book shelves you can see they are full of large books no doubt on Alchmey. He has spent a long time diligently studying this art. Outside the window we can see a maze in the distance which tells us this Art is difficult and one can easily get lost in confusion.

    But look now, standing upon the furnace within the glass alembic can be seen a chemical wedding. Outside the tree bares fruit and mother nature appears to place a crown on this old philosophers head. He holds his hand out as to object but she insists and it can only be that he is a most humble man.

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    Interesting. I see a different interpretation. In her right hand, she holds a very fancy and colorful crown, which he is not rejecting. Instead, he is rejecting the other arm, which holds a most simple crown, and a golden wand. A silver key is hanging on that arm - actual and symbolic.

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    I like it, though I see it as the woman offering him everything he already has in his flask: the Crown, and the three principles it's composed of (symbolically).

    The duality of the image is interesting. The alchemist with the cloth in his lab, and the alchemist interacting with the woman (perhaps the representation of an inner world).

    There is also the alchemist in his laboratory, and the apple tree, maze and bird outside. Another duality.
    Art is Nature in the flask; Nature is a vial thing.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luxus View Post
    What's your favourite piece of Alchemical art and why?

    Probably my favourite would be this Engraving from Sabine Stuart de Chevalier Discours philosophique, Paris, 1781.

    You see the Alchemist shown in two different time frames. Sitting crying because he has been unsuccessful. He is old and looking at his book shelves you can see they are full of large books no doubt on Alchmey. He has spent a long time diligently studying this art. Outside the window we can see a maze in the distance which tells us this Art is difficult and one can easily get lost in confusion.

    But look now, standing upon the furnace within the glass alembic can be seen a chemical wedding. Outside the tree bares fruit and mother nature appears to place a crown on this old philosophers head. He holds his hand out as to object but she insists and it can only be that he is a most humble man.
    Quote Originally Posted by Illen A. Cluf View Post
    Interesting. I see a different interpretation. In her right hand, she holds a very fancy and colorful crown, which he is not rejecting. Instead, he is rejecting the other arm, which holds a most simple crown, and a golden wand. A silver key is hanging on that arm - actual and symbolic.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kiorionis View Post
    I like it, though I see it as the woman offering him everything he already has in his flask: the Crown, and the three principles it's composed of (symbolically).

    The duality of the image is interesting. The alchemist with the cloth in his lab, and the alchemist interacting with the woman (perhaps the representation of an inner world).

    There is also the alchemist in his laboratory, and the apple tree, maze and bird outside. Another duality.
    Adam Mclean's (modern) version has color. The original (old) engraving does not. Here is the original "Discours Philosophique" woodcut from 1781


    Did you know Sabine Stuart is a female Alchemist?

    I do not read French, but it appears there is a follow-up image to this engraving. So much symbolism in this second engraving too!


    I love hearing everyone's interpretation of the image! All of our eyes see things differently. We can all learn from reading each other's perspectives.

    Interpreting woodcuts is most definitely not my thing, but the way I see it is as follows; the woman is the real Alchemist and the man is being taught and shown the secrets of the Universe (contained within her flask). The man is sad because he has walked the labyrinth of Alchemy yet never succeeded. He is weary and the woman is showing the man the Way. Notice where her left hand is pointing. Her left hand is directing our attention towards the flask representing completion of our whole Art. The man is sitting down without headdress and the woman is standing up with headdress; the woman is in power here. The man can be viewed symbolically as the black, terrestrial, Earth element below and the woman can be viewed symbolically as the white, celestial, Air element above. They are separated by space but united by touch. Exactly between them is the Key we all seek.


    My favorite piece of Alchemical art has to be the "Ripley Scroll". It is marvelous!



    Last edited by Schmuldvich; 08-08-2017 at 05:14 AM.

  5. #5
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    I believe this woman is mother nature because I have seen similar depictions of mother nature in alchemical art.

    The crown she is trying to place on his head is the more fancy one.

    We must remember that the stone does not exist within nature. We are told in almost every alchemical text that mother nature can produce the first matter but she cannot perfect it into the philosophers stone. Taking this into account mother nature cannot be instructing the alchemist in this image. She is putting a crown on his head because he has done what she could not.

    The second image, I interpreter this as an angel putting a wreath on this warriors head for succeeding in killing this three headed creature. Where his sword enters the beast worms comes out suggesting decomposition. He therefore represents the solvent destroying the old dragon and causing its inner nature to spill out. He stands on top of the beast because he has vanquished it.
    Last edited by Luxus; 08-08-2017 at 12:27 PM.

  6. #6
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    I had the chance of seeing the Ripley Scroll "face to face" quite recently and it's truly beautiful (I was also surprised by its size, I had assumed that it was smaller).

    My favorite is probably not a specific image, but a whole book: "Atalanta Fugiens". I like how Maier managed to unite the written text with its images and its music. I like it a lot how he was very concerned with the edition of the book and somehow wanted it to be what we nowadays call an "artist's book".

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