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Legend in Galle's "The Alchemist"
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Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Sat Dec 13th, 2008 10:54 am
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I am currently transcribing Bonacina's manuscript "Compendiolum de praeparatione auri potabilis veri" with a view to translating it. He quotes the following lines:

Debent ignari res ferre et post operari
Ius lapidis cari vilis sed denique rari
Unica res certa vilis sed ubique reperta
Quatuor inserta naturis in nube reperta
Nulla mineralis res est ubi principalis
Sed talis qualis reperitur ubique localis

...obscure lines which have been rendered as:

"The ignorant should suffer things and labour accordingly. The law of the precious, cheap but at the same time rare stone is the only certain, worthless but everywhere discovered thing. With four natures stuffed into the cloud it is no mineral that is unique somewhere but is of such a kind as to be found everywhere."

These lines are also found in Philip Galle's engraving after Pieter Bruegel the Elder entitled "The Alchemist", dated to c. 1558, which is shown below.

There are some interesting comments by Susan Fargo Gilchrist on the later states of the engraving here:
http://el-bosco-notes.blogspot.com/2006/08/2-alchemist.html

I was wondering if anyone can shed any light on the origin of these lines?

TIA

Paul

Attached Image (viewed 1449 times):

Galle - Alchemist.jpg

Last edited on Sat Dec 13th, 2008 10:41 pm by Paul Ferguson

adammclean
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 Posted: Sun Dec 14th, 2008 07:00 pm
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There is a short though excellent article (in English) in

A.A.A.M. Brinkman,  De alchemist in de Prentkunst, Amsterdam 1982.

dealing with this print.

The original drawing by Breughel is dated 1558 and is in the Kupferstichkabinnet in Berlin. A number of prints were made by different engravers - Hieronymus Cock, Pieter Cool, Pieter van der Borcht, Theodoor Galle, Jan Galle, Claes Jansz and a few others.

The article indicated that

F.W.H. Hollstein, Dutch and Flemish Etchings... Amsterdam, 1949, gives some description, but I don't know if it uncovers the sources of the text.

The Pieter Cool engraving (about 1570) has some French and Dutch text engraved below the image, with much the same  satirical sentiments. I will scan this in later and post it here.

 

 

Last edited on Sun Dec 14th, 2008 07:04 pm by adammclean

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Sun Dec 14th, 2008 11:44 pm
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Thanks Adam.

The Bonacina text would seem to date from about 1620. It was discussed in an earlier thread on this forum:

http://www.alchemydiscussion.com/view_topic.php?id=102&forum_id=2

adammclean
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 Posted: Mon Dec 15th, 2008 10:10 am
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Here is the footnote from the article relating to the engraving


----------------------------------------------------
F.W.H. Hollstein, Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts, Amsterdam 1949 ff., Vol. Ill, p. 296 gives the following details: States with the size of 34.2 x 44.9 cm:

I       Before any letters in the lower plate-margin, before the address of Cock and before the word "lospital" on the house to the right; very scarce.

II      With three lines of latin verses, with the address of Cock (COCK EXCUD  CUM  PRIVILEGIO) and with  the word "lospital". Before the address of T. Galle. The verses read:

DEBENT IGNARI RES FERRE ET POST OPERARI
JVS LAPIDIS CARI VILIS SED DENIQUE RARI
VNICA RES CERTA VILIS SED VBIQUE REPERTA
QVATVOR INSERTA NATVRIS IN NVBE REFERTA
NVLLA MINERALIS RES EST VBI PRINCIPALS
SED TALIS QVALIS REPERTITVR VBIQUE LOCALIS.

II     Four lines of french and four lines of dutch verse added in the lower plate-margin. With the address: T. GALLE ESCUD CVM PRIVILEGIO. The verses read:

Voy comme ce solastre en ses fioles distille
Le sang de ses enfans, ses tresors, et ses sens;
Voy comme il cherche apres la recherche inutile
u Mercvre son pain auecque ses enfans.

Den Alcomist" seer veel verquist" aen goet en tyt
Ghelt, goet, en schat" heeft hy ghehat" maer ist nu quyt
Hy vint int vier" gans niet een sier" dan syn bederuen
In d'eynde dan" moet hy erm man" int gasthuys steruen.

(The alchemist wastes many a thing, his goods and time,
He possessed money, goods and treasure, but has lost it all,
He finds in the fire no glamour, only his undoing
And in the end, he, a poor man, is to die in the infirmary.)

Attached Image (viewed 1238 times):

Pieter_Cool.jpg

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Mon Dec 15th, 2008 12:13 pm
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A couple more references:

1. The Printed World of Pieter Bruegel, the Elder: The Saint Louis Art Museum, April 4-June 25, 1995; Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, September 2-November 12, 1995
By Barbara Butts, Joseph Leo Koerner, Suzanne Tausz, Betha Whitlow, St. Louis Art Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum
Published by Saint Louis Art Museum, 1995
ISBN 0891780424, 9780891780427
page 110

2. Janus 1968
Journal of the Nederlandsche Vereeniging voor Geschiedenis der Genees-, Natur- en Wiskunde
Published by Janus, 1968
page 142

I doubt if either of these references would shed any light on the origin of the verses.

There also seems to be a reference to it in A. De Pascalis, "Alchimia - Arte d'Orata", mentioned here:

http://es.artxworld.com/recensioni_arte.aspx?opera=fea9812e-a286-428e-a712-3680cae732c4

Carl Lavoie
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 Posted: Mon Sep 10th, 2012 02:27 pm
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.

Here are the prints about alchemy/chemistry collected by Arthur Brinkman (1938-1977), the author of the paper cited above, by Adam (open the thumbnails and click again to magnify):

http://www.len.dds.nl/alchemisten/index.htm

 
.

 

Last edited on Mon Sep 10th, 2012 02:34 pm by Carl Lavoie

Carl Lavoie
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 Posted: Mon Sep 2nd, 2013 09:04 am
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.

A rather amusing depiction of ‘Puffers’ (spelled out by the artist by having everybody smoking pipes).

 

http://vd18.de/de-bsb-vd18/content/pageview/26643280

 

.

Last edited on Mon Sep 2nd, 2013 09:05 am by Carl Lavoie


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