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Dragons and griffins around a lone flowering tree in a landscape on the outskirts of a town; representing a stage in the alchemical process. Coloured etching after etching, ca. 17th century.

  • Flamel, Nicolas, -1418.
Reference
38032i
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view Dragons and griffins around a lone flowering tree in a landscape on the outskirts of a town; representing a stage in the alchemical process. Coloured etching after etching, ca. 17th century.

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Credit: Dragons and griffins around a lone flowering tree in a landscape on the outskirts of a town; representing a stage in the alchemical process. Coloured etching after etching, ca. 17th century. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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About this work

Description

Flamel writes that on this page was "painted a faire flowre on the top of a very high mountaine, which was sore shaken by the north wind; it had the foot blew [blue], the flowers white and red, the leaves shining like fine gold: And round about it the dragons and griffins of the north made their nests and abode" (ibid. p. 9) Dixon (ibid, p. xxx) comments that "Poisson and Grillot de Givry interpret this image respectively as an allegory of the 'two sperms, sulfur and mercury', and as the sublimation of mercury". She goes on to suggest other possible meanings: the tree is the "golden flower", symbol of the womb of the Virgin Mary; symbol of the stage of the 'lapis' in alchemy; and "the precarious situation of the alchemical flower as it is buffeted by north winds and menaced by monsters"

Publication/Creation

[Place of publication not identified] : [publisher not identified]

Physical description

1 print : etching, with watercolour ; platemark 20.3 x 15 cm

References note

Jacques van Lennep, Alchimie, Brussels 1984, pp. 134-144

Lettering note

Bears number: 4

Reference

Wellcome Library no. 38032i

Reproduction note

The Livre takes its inspiration from a text by Nicolas Flamel (ca. 1330-1417) first published in France in 1612, then in England in 1624. Flamel tells of how a book written by one Abraham the Jew fell into his hands and goes on to describe its illustrations, which he does not attempt to reproduce. Only in 1672, in W. Salmon's edition of the book, did the images come to be actualised. See: Nicolas Flamel, His exposition of the hieroglyphicall figures (1624), ed. Laurinda Dixon, London 1994, p. 8ff.

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