Tag Archives: alchemy

Call for Papers: Colouring and Making in Alchemy and Chemistry (7th SHAC Postgraduate Workshop)

It’s been eerily quiet around here for too long! Many things have happened since I ceased posting more regularly, and perhaps I’ll find time to dwell on some of them in the future. Among other things, I have devoted much of my time to intensive manuscript research, which has come to be defining for my PhD thesis. But for now, I would like to advertise the all-new call for papers for this year’s postgraduate workshop of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry (SHAC). I’m particularly thrilled about the keynote lecturers and the collaboration with ARTECHNE at Utrecht University…

Continue reading


Art and alchemy in Düsseldorf’s Museum Kunstpalast

Marieke Hendriksen (University of Groningen), my blogging colleague from The Medicine Chest, also stopped by at the alchemy exhibition in Düsseldorf, filling you in on the modern section of the exhibition I had missed…

Marieke Hendriksen - The Medicine Chest

May and June have a lot of bank holidays in the Netherlands, and this year we decided to use one of the bank holiday weekends for a short road trip to Germany. It gave me to opportunity to visit the exhibition Art and Alchemy at the Düsseldorf Museum Kunstpalast, which alone was worth the trip. This extremely well-researched exhibition brings together unique documents and objects, like the Ripley Scrolls, the Leiden Papyri, porcelain, glass, distillation apparatus and historical and contemporary art works.

Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

As I have discussed before on this blog, alchemy was strongly connected to medicine in the early modern era, so this was an exhibition I definitely wanted to see. The curators have done a great job, visualizing the connections between early modern art, alchemy and medicine through intelligent matching of objects, images and texts.

The exhibition is divided over two spaces: one focuses…

View original post 211 more words


Art and Alchemy. The Mystery of Transformation (April 5 to August 10, 2014)

Introductory remarks by Lawrence M. Principe and Sven Dupré

Before entering the exhibition, Lawrence M. Principe gave a very brief introduction on alchemy, while art historian Sven Dupré and curator Dedo von Kerssenbrock-Krosigk (right to left) expected their turns in the background.

Yesterday I went on a pilgrimage to Düsseldorf to see the alchemy exhibition currently running at the Museum Kunstpalast. I chose this particular date because of an event announced as a book launch that actually turned out to be a guided tour through the exhibition. A handful of attendees had the privilege of being guided through the marvels of pre-modern alchemy by Sven Dupré and Lawrence M. Principe, who had himself contributed some exhibition pieces.

Continue reading


In memoriam: Joachim Telle (1939-2013)

Martin Mulsow and Joachim Telle (right) convened the research workshop on alchemy at the Forschungsbibliothek Gotha. Barely visible on the far left, there is a laptop screen behind which I was furiously typing away to transcribe relevant passages out of Kriegsmann's works. (Thüringischer Landesanzeiger, 14 September 2012.)

Martin Mulsow and Joachim Telle (right) convened the research workshop on alchemy at the Forschungsbibliothek Gotha. Barely visible on the far left, there is a laptop screen behind which I was furiously typing away to transcribe relevant passages out of Kriegsmann’s works. (© Thüringischer Landesanzeiger, 14 September 2012.)

On 12 December 2013, the world lost the scholar most knowledgeable about all things pertaining to German alchemy from the late middle ages to the twentieth century: Joachim Telle. While this sad event already took place half a year ago, I learnt about it at a staff meeting a few months ago and have only now been able to read a complete eulogy in the new issue of Ambix, released online this morning. I had the pleasure of meeting Telle in September 2012, at a research workshop on alchemy at the Forschungsbibliothek Gotha, and remember him as a passionate teacher and true character with rough edges, as very helpful, sociable and lively. As Telle exclusively wrote in German and blazed many trails for my own research, I’d like to introduce my readers to some of his pioneering work and dedicate this post to his memory.

Continue reading


Wilhelm Christoph Kriegsmann and the Secrets of Alchemical Symbolism

The eagerly expected second issue of the young, open-access journal Correspondences was released this past Saturday. Yours truly also contributed a substantial article on Wilhelm Christoph Kriegsmann (1635–79). Even so, there are several things that had to be cut out. For instance, while I devote a fair amount of attention to his philological reconstruction of the Tabula Smaragdina (1657) and his Epistola (1669) arguing that Plato was a noteworthy chymist and, moreover, taught much that agrees with the Gospel of John, Taaut (1665) received short shrift. As this work on ‘the interpretation of the chymical signs’ (Fig. 1) was actually the one due to which I first became interested in Kriegsmann, I thought I’d share some outtakes, as it were, with my readers.

Continue reading


Call for Papers: Geographies of Alchemy and Chemistry (5th SHAC Postgraduate Workshop)

As the international student representative of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry and lead organizer of this year’s postgraduate workshop, I would like to draw my readers’ attention to the following call for papers. It would have been a great opportunity for the reblog feature but, alas, it doesn’t work for ambix.org where I’ve also posted a few minutes ago. Anyway, as Judith Mawer (University of Exeter) and myself penned it, with a lot of insightful and patient advice from our predecessor Jo Hedesan (Oxford University), I feel few qualms about also posting it on my personal blog. Without further ado:  Continue reading


A Sound Dutch Beating for Fraudulent German Alchemy

Writing for the Amsterdam stage, David Lingelbach (b. 1641)—himself the son of a German expatriate and artist—published a play entitled The Converted Alchemist, or: The Betrayed Fraud in 1680. It is but one out of eleven plays he wrote under the banner of Nil Volentibus Arduum (‘Nothing is arduous for the willing’), a literary society active between 1669 and 1687 to spread the ideals of French classicist theatre in the Low Countries and otherwise known primarily for lack of talent. Thirty-four years later (1714), the self-appointed literary heir to Nil Volentibus Arduum, Ysbrand Vincent (d. 1718), published an improved, second edition that added greater poignancy to an intriguing intercultural encounter less explicit in the original printing: it tells the story of a Dutch widower, Govert, ‘naïve and unskilled in alchemy’, and his encounter with Squire Goudschalk (literally, ‘gold jester’), ‘a German, fraud and pretended alchemist of great experience’.[1] And by the same token it provides us with a glimpse of some associations alchemy carried in early eighteenth-century Amsterdam.

De bekeerde alchimist_web

While not exactly on a par with Molière (d. 1673), The Converted Alchemist (1680/1714) is a brief, entertaining comedy that culminates in a sound beating for the fraudulent German alchemist. In the background, a well-stocked alchemical laboratory can be seen. Author’s photograph; courtesy of University of Amsterdam, Special Collections (OTM: O 63-5575).

Continue reading