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A Christ-like figure seated in a boiling vat while a man works a bellows beneath it; representing the process of self-destruction in order to attain the elixir of life. Watercolour painting.

Reference
38811i
Part of
Splendor solis
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view A Christ-like figure seated in a boiling vat while a man works a bellows beneath it; representing the process of self-destruction in order to attain the elixir of life. Watercolour painting.

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Credit: A Christ-like figure seated in a boiling vat while a man works a bellows beneath it; representing the process of self-destruction in order to attain the elixir of life. Watercolour painting. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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About this work

Description

Lennep claims that this image is related to a text by the ancient alchemist Zosimos of Panoplis, who writes: "These old sages voluntarily dismembered themselves and boiled the pieces until a perfect decoction took place, in order to change their feeble old age into a state of force and vigour". The image here also has Christian resonances of baptism and resurrection. In alchemy the dove represented the volatile spirit of putrefying matter (Lennep, p. 122)

Physical description

1 painting : watercolour ; image 36.9 x 25.3 cm.

Contributors

References note

J. van Lennep, L'alchimie, Brussels 1984, pp. 110-129

Reference

Wellcome Library no. 38811i

Reproduction note

After: Salomon Trismosin, Splendor solis, 1582, British Library, Harley ms. 3469

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