The soul being refined like metal in a crucible by an angel, Satan, Venus and Death; representing a test of faith. Etching by C. Murer, ca. 1600-1614.
- Murer, Christoph, 1558-1614.
Selected images from this work
About this work
In Murer's play this etching accompanies a speech about purification through martyrdom. It shows allegorically how the human soul is tested by life's tribulations. The soul is refined in an ironworks (the universe) by a team of metalworkers: a good angel ("bonus angelus"), Satan, Venus, and Death. The soul ("Anima") is placed inside a crucible ("Homo", man) and heated in the fires (Tribulations) of a brazier ("Mundus", the physical world). On the left the good angel cools the soul with sanctity by sprinkling holy water (marked "spiritus sanctus", the Holy Ghost) on to it with an aspergillum. The angel's work is countered by the evil forces on the right, who try to make it as hot (sinful) as possible: the devil at the back blows vanity and temptation ("vanitas", "tentationes") at the fire with his bellows, while Venus (a nude woman, representing the flesh, "caro"), adds a burning coal marked "cupiditates" (desires). In the background Death stands by to smash it with a hammer labelled "finis" (end). An hour-glass sits on the floor as an attribute of Death