alchemical art

Heavenly bodies are essential in alchemy, particularly the sun, moon, Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. Symbols of these planets are common in alchemical art along with their Greek god counterparts, and the success of operations were sometimes tied to zodiacal time. Beyond times of the month, day and hour, these heavenly bodies also corresponded to metals, parts of the body, cardinal sins, and cardinal virtues. Images: Clavis artis, Zoroaster, 17th century and De naturae…historia, Robert Fludd, 1680

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Ulrich Ruosch’s Alchemical Manual, 1680, is a pocket sized manuscript containing an overview of alchemy and the meaning of planets, numbers, letters, and elements. Alchemical implements, philosophy, and symbolism representing each stage of the process are also found inside.

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Emblems from Sammlung unterschiedlicher bewährter chymischer Schriften, Johannes Isaac Holladus & Michael Sendivogius, 1746, including The Hand of the Philosophers and a Globus cruciger. Source: Embassy of the Free Mind

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The title plate from Michael Maier’s Arcana Arcanissima, 1614. Above are three figures from the Egyptian myth of the dismemberment of Osiris by his brother Typhon, and reassembling by his sister Isis. The Greek gods Hercules and Dionysus flank the sides and below are the Egyptian mythological creatures of Ibis, Apis, and Cynocephalus.

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Emblems from a German Alchemical Manuscript, Fidelis Werner, 1794. Source: University of Freiburg

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Emblems from Sammlung Alchymistischer Schriften (Collection of Alchemical Writings), 18th Century. The different colors and symbolic images represent stages of the alchemical process, and the composition acts as a guide for the process as a whole. Source: John Rylands Library

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Diagram of an alchemist’s furnace, 17th Century. From Manly P. Hall’s collection of alchemical manuscripts, Box 18, MS 102, v. 6. Source: Getty Research Institute

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Based on the work of Paracelsus, Robert Fludd devised an alchemical theory of creation wherein god separated the materials of the universe out of a chaotic prima materia, in the same way that an alchemist in a laboratory would do. These engravings from the History of the Two Worlds, 1617, illustrated his wild theories. Source: archive.org


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Diagrams of Alchemical Processes from Das Buch mit Sieben Siegeln, Anonymous, ca. 1700. From Manly P Hall’s Collection of Alchemical Manuscripts, Box 4.MS 19.Vol 2

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Title page of De Arte divina & sacra, sine Aenigmate tradita & del praxin conscripta by Anonymous, ca. 1700. At the top of the painting you can see the Greek God Hermes, representing the element Mercury, the peacock representing the end of the Nigredo stage, and the element of air, represented by the faces blowing. From Manly P. Hall’s collection of alchemical manuscripts Box 3, MS 14

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Drawings from F. de La Rose-croix by Anonymous, circa 1700. Alchemy is sometimes referred to as ‘The Language of Birds’ due to different birds representing different stages in the alchemical process. Source: Manly P. Hall’s Collection of Alchemical Manuscripts Box 5

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Drawings and watercolor paintings of sacred geometry from Cabala, Unknown Author, 1700. The manuscript contains 13 images, a holy number that represents the oneness of God for the Jewish people, with no accompanying text, and prominently features a Star of David or hexagram. From: Manly P. Hall’s Collection of Alchemical Manuscripts, Box 17 MS 71

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