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adammclean
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Carl Lavoie recently alerted me to some images of alchemists in their

laboratories by the Scottish artist James Nasmyth. He was the son of

the well known artist Alexander Nasmyth 1758–1840. His son, though

an accomplished artist turned instead to engineering and was one of the major

figures in creating heavy industrial machinery in the mid 19th century in Scotland.

Carl found three paintings. I also have some photographs I obtained some years

ago of drawings, no doubt made in preparation for some similar themed paintings.

 

 

Attached Image (viewed 6782 times):

Nasmyth - Alchemist in his laboratory 1.jpg

adammclean
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Attached Image (viewed 4314 times):

Nasmyth - Alchemist in his laboratory 2.jpg

adammclean
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Attached Image (viewed 3018 times):

Nasmyth - Alchemist in his laboratory 3.jpg

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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Those are nice, especially the way the light changes through the day or seasons.  Although the last picture looks like it has been reversed into a mirror image. 

adammclean
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Why do you think it reversed ? The alchemist seems to be holding up a candle in his right hand. I do not see this as a reversed image.

 

Paul Ferguson
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There's an interesting reference to one of them in the Faraday correspondence, letter 2090:

http://books.google.com/books?id=vKesSblgySgC&pg=PA699&lpg=PA699&dq=%22James+Nasmyth%22+alchemy&source=bl&ots=IDIm1wqUca&sig=ZGkAQst-ESMTxxIz96PmOKbMFZU&hl=fr&sa=X&ei=jtfRT6ydJsXa0QWn-9yqBA&ved=0CE8Q6AEwAjg8#v=onepage&q&f=false


And here's a funny 'esoteric' one - what's all this about?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/etchingsplus/4140238229/in/set-72157622397555882

"It is very detailed, there is a fight breaking out by the left hand leg of the table!"

Carl Lavoie
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"James Naysmyth (1808 - 1890) [...] wrote is autobiography in 1883 ..."

 

Maybe he alludes in it for his interest in the alchemical themes.

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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Ach, never mind, looking closer it is a different laboratory compared to the first two.  I saw the three in a line and then wondered why the bottom one seemed to be looking back the other way compared to the top two.

Paul Ferguson
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Carl Lavoie wrote:
.

"James Naysmyth (1808 - 1890) [...] wrote is autobiography in 1883 ..."

 

Maybe he alludes in it for his interest in the alchemical themes.


Part of it is available on-line. He refers briefly to one of the alchemist drawings here:

http://books.google.com/books?id=rGGeUibT7vUC&pg=PA266&dq=%22james+nasmyth%22+alchemist&hl=fr&sa=X&ei=4_7RT66JPK3Y0QWo5_SZBA&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Paul Ferguson
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Carl Lavoie wrote:
.

"James Naysmyth (1808 - 1890) [...] wrote is autobiography in 1883 ..."

 

Maybe he alludes in it for his interest in the alchemical themes.


I wonder if the inspiration was Washington Irving, the early 19th century American writer and creator of Rip Van Winkle? Nasmyth seems to have greatly admired his writings. One of Irving's stories, The Student of Salamanca, features an alchemist:

http://books.google.com/books?id=IJkHThIKcS0C&pg=PA384&dq=%22washington+irving%22+salamanca+student&hl=fr&sa=X&ei=OgjST7fHFIGm0QXDz42DBA&ved=0CEQQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false

adammclean
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Paul, you are such a great researcher. This is great story. I will try and get a copy which I can print out to read through. The Google Books windows I find a bit limiting.

It does seem on a quick skim through that this resonates with the Nasmyth paintings.

Paul Ferguson
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adammclean wrote:
Paul, you are such a great researcher. This is great story. I will try and get a copy which I can print out to read through. The Google Books windows I find a bit limiting.

It does seem on a quick skim through that this resonates with the Nasmyth paintings.


<blushes>

I think you can download a free .pdf from here. It's part of the Bracebridge Hall volume:

http://www.ebooks-library.com/author.cfm/AuthorID/179

adammclean
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Great. I will reformat it for html and put it up on the alchemy website.

Paul Ferguson
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It's interesting to compare these with his purely 'industrial' paintings, like this one of a steamhammer.

Attached Image (viewed 2120 times):

steamhammer.jpg

Carl Lavoie
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Are the footnotes about the lampes perpétuelles really from W. Irving, or the editor ?

 

http://www.telelib.com/authors/I/IrvingWashington/prose/bracebridgehallvol1/bracebridgehall026.html

 

Last edited on Fri Jun 8th, 2012 07:23 pm by Carl Lavoie

Carl Lavoie
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For once, Humidity overcomes Calidity ...

 

.

Attached Image (viewed 1487 times):

steamhammer.jpg

Carl Lavoie
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What a life do I lead with my master; nothing but blowing of bellowes, beating of spirits, and scraping of croslets! It is a very secret science, for none almost can understand the language of it. Sublimation, almigation, calcination, rubification, albification, and fermentation; with as many termes unpossible to be uttered as the arte to be compassed.

—LILLY’S GALLATHEA.


 

And I confess that I had never heard before of the play Gallathea (1585), by John Lilly, from which Irving use the above quote as the epigraph of his tale.

.

Paul Ferguson
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Carl Lavoie wrote:
.

 

What a life do I lead with my master; nothing but blowing of bellowes, beating of spirits, and scraping of croslets! It is a very secret science, for none almost can understand the language of it. Sublimation, almigation, calcination, rubification, albification, and fermentation; with as many termes unpossible to be uttered as the arte to be compassed.

—LILLY’S GALLATHEA.


 

And I confess that I had never heard before of the play Gallathea (1585), by John Lilly, from which Irving use the above quote as the epigraph of his tale.

.




Seems to be the only one of his plays though that is still performed:

"An experimental performance was staged by Peter Lichtenfels in November 2010 at the University of California, Davis. The show featured a bare set, audience participation, and video projection... Modern commentators have praised the play's "harmonious variety" and "allegorical dramaturgy"."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallathea

Here's the Lego version for any 5-year-old infant prodigies on the forum:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugXDi692xUg

And a trailer for the Pleasaunce production:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJMCgSgRi_U

And here is the text:

http://www.letrs.indiana.edu/cgi-bin/eprosed/eprosed-idx?coll=eprosed;idno=P1.0161

Paul Ferguson
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Carl Lavoie wrote:
.

Are the footnotes about the lampes perpétuelles really from W. Irving, or the editor ?

 

http://www.telelib.com/authors/I/IrvingWashington/prose/bracebridgehallvol1/bracebridgehall026.html

 


It seems to be in all the on-line editions, so I assume it must be the author's own.

Paul Ferguson
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adammclean wrote:
Great. I will reformat it for html and put it up on the alchemy website.

The story mentions the lead tablets called 'plomos', allegedly containing alchemical knowledge but now apparently debunked as forgeries. This dissertation mentions them and gives a reference in a footnote:

http://digitalarchive.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1007&context=history_diss

"Regrettably, Irving’s descriptions did not extend to one of the most interesting local aspects of Granada’s church traditions, the place of the plomos, a series of mysterious lead tablets, purporting to detail the history of the Christian underground during the years of Islamic rule, that had been discovered in the late sixteenth century. The same impulse that led Enlightenment-era Spanish
antiquarians to begin the process of surveying the Moorish antiquities in the late eighteenth century had rekindled a close study of the plomos, now understood to be an early modern forgery. Irving must have known something of the lore of the plomos, because in his “Scholar of Salamanca,” from the 1820 Bracebridge Hall he describes “Arabian tablets of lead, which had recently been dug up in the neighborhood of Granada, which, it was confidently believed among adepts, contained the lost secrets of [alchemy].”

"For Spanish Enlightenment-era research on the plomos, see A. Katie Harris, From Muslim to Christian Granada: Inventing a City’s Past in Early Modern Spain (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007), 149-152."

Attached Image (viewed 713 times):

220px-Portrait_of_Washington_Irving_attr._to_Charles_Robert_Leslie.jpg

Carl Lavoie
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In an exhibition held in 1842, the Scottish painter Alexander Christie (1807-1860), a contemporary of James Nasmyth (b.1808), had his painting “An Alchemist visited by a Familiar of the Inquisition” displayed to the public.

http://archive.org/stream/royalscottishaca00royarich#page/74/mode/2up

Only the nineteenth century could have generated such a theme.

Anyway, as anyone seen that painting ?
.

Paul Ferguson
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Carl Lavoie wrote:
.
In an exhibition held in 1842, the Scottish painter Alexander Christie (1807-1860), a contemporary of James Nasmyth (b.1808), had his painting “An Alchemist visited by a Familiar of the Inquisition” displayed to the public.

http://archive.org/stream/royalscottishaca00royarich#page/74/mode/2up

Only the nineteenth century could have generated such a theme.

Anyway, as anyone seen that painting ?
.


I've had a good root around on the Internet and elsewhere and cannot find anything about it, except that it was priced at £60, quite a substantial sum, at the 8th AGM of the Scottish Art Union:

http://books.google.com/books?id=trTlAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA167&lpg=PA167&dq=%22visited+by+a+familiar+of+the+inquisition%22&source=bl&ots=rPU24s6Nif&sig=ICyqBJhLl88MVI31b6-bth3quNA&hl=fr&sa=X&ei=G5bVT5_rLYfE0QWA0_DzAw&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22visited%20by%20a%20familiar%20of%20the%20inquisition%22&f=false

Judging by some of the sardonic comments about his other paintings I imagine it may have ended up as firewood.

But surely it also was inspired by the same Washington Irving story? See page 133 here:

http://books.google.com/books?id=HDcZBfBTRNYC&pg=PA133&lpg=PA133&dq=%22familiars%22+%22the+inquisition%22+alchemists&source=bl&ots=aSF5UqGuvi&sig=AgHiYK1y5ZdBhJAvWwuD_gou_54&hl=fr&sa=X&ei=SJXVT__aO-G50QXwktiTBA&ved=0CEsQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22familiars%22%20%22the%20inquisition%22%20alchemists&f=false

I imagine he moved in the same circles as David Scott, who painted the famous picture of Paracelsus lecturing:

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/dscott.html

Last edited on Mon Jun 11th, 2012 07:59 am by Paul Ferguson

Carl Lavoie
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Regarding alchemical laboratories and the XIXth century, is there a review of this exhibition?


Huysmans n’aimait guère les médecins; (...)

Parmi ceux qui l’ont approché et qui sont devenus ses amis, il faut citer le docteur Michel de Lézinier d’Anglade, marquis de Corlieu (3), alchimiste et mathématicien, qui avait reconstitué un cabinet d’alchimie dans la galerie des Arts libéraux à l’Exposition de 1889 et à qui Huysmans doit beaucoup sur les questions d’occultisme (par certains gestes et propos il revit dans le docteur des Hermies de Là-Bas


http://huysmans.org/bibliophiletexts/jacquinot2.htm

.

Paul Ferguson
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Carl Lavoie wrote:
.
Regarding alchemical laboratories and the XIXth century, is there a review of this exhibition?


Huysmans n’aimait guère les médecins; (...)

Parmi ceux qui l’ont approché et qui sont devenus ses amis, il faut citer le docteur Michel de Lézinier d’Anglade, marquis de Corlieu (3), alchimiste et mathématicien, qui avait reconstitué un cabinet d’alchimie dans la galerie des Arts libéraux à l’Exposition de 1889 et à qui Huysmans doit beaucoup sur les questions d’occultisme (par certains gestes et propos il revit dans le docteur des Hermies de Là-Bas


http://huysmans.org/bibliophiletexts/jacquinot2.htm

.


The Marquis wrote a book about his friendship with Huysmans under an abbreviated name, but I haven't found a complete copy online.

http://tinyurl.com/nppkj3h

S/hand copy here:

http://tinyurl.com/nmrbwb6

Last edited on Sat Oct 19th, 2013 05:10 pm by Paul Ferguson

Carl Lavoie
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S/hand copy here:

Exept that this very copy from W&B has been mailed Wednesday. But Abebooks still have five or six available.

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?kn=michel&tn=avec+huysmans

The 'cabinet d'alchimie' at the Exposition of 1889 (talk about alchemy going mainstream) might have create some vocations.

But I would be curious to read even a description of it.
.

Paul Ferguson
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Carl Lavoie wrote:
.
S/hand copy here:

Exept that this very copy from W&B has been mailed Wednesday. But Abebooks still have five or six available.

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?kn=michel&tn=avec+huysmans

The 'cabinet d'alchimie' at the Exposition of 1889 (talk about alchemy going mainstream) might have create some vocations.

But I would be curious to read even a description of it.
.


Other copies available here:

http://tinyurl.com/nglep6r

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Another 'piste'?

"Théodore Tiffereau adressa plusieurs mémoires à l'Académie des Sciences. Et dans une autre lettre, d'ajouter : " L'or obtenu par moi à Guadalajara constitue un fait palpable que j'ai tenu toujours à la disposition des savants et dont l'existence réelle n'a pas pu être niée. Il a été analysé et reconnu comme un or vrai par M. Silva, ancien président de la Société chimique et professeur à l'Ecole Centrale. Cette analyse a été confirmée par celles d'autres chimistes, entre autres par celle de M. Itasse. " " /.../ Cet or a figuré à la grande Exposition de 1889, soumis aux membres de la Commission."

http://60gp.ovh.net/~alchymie/articles/rayonnement.htm


There was also an article in Mercure de France in 1926:

http://gallica.bnf.fr/searchInPeriodique?spe=Michel+de+L%C3%A9zinier+et+l%27alchimie&arkPress=cb34427363f%2Fdate&lang=EN

Last edited on Sat Oct 19th, 2013 05:34 pm by Paul Ferguson

Carl Lavoie
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Yes, page 458: "Leurs relations commencèrent en 1889, lors de l’ouverture de l’Exposition Universelle de Paris. M. de Lézinier y avait reconstitué un laboratoire d’alchimie qui « intéressa extrêmement Huysmans ». Cet intérêt fonda une grande amitié entre les deux hommes."
.

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http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/weltausstellung1889a/0128/image?sid=7cba955a6cf47f8700f0dd69de477322

........................................

And we learn here that the alchemist at work is Maier!

« M. Délézinier avait minutieusement reproduit l’aspect d’un laboratoire d’alchimiste au commencement du XVIIe siècle en y plaçant la figure du fameux alchimiste Michael Maier, fondateur de la véritable théorie de l’ébullition [?!]»

http://books.google.ca/books?id=raci5pxMeiEC&pg=PA304&lpg=PA304&dq=exposition+universelle+1889+laboratoire+alchimiste&source=bl&ots=yd8azWtmrm&sig=a-SC3UyLdXxM113IykMhP3dx_Oc&hl=fr&sa=X&ei=3D9jUsfRNbGyygHYpYFI&ved=0CDoQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=exposition%20universelle%201889%20laboratoire%20alchimiste&f=false

Last edited on Sun Oct 20th, 2013 03:49 am by Carl Lavoie

Carl Lavoie
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Following up on Lézinier’s Avec Huysmans (1928). On chapter IV, thinks that he deciphered the alchemical treatises of Maier by positing that ‘Mercure’ stands for Hg and ‘Soufre’ for S :




Makes one wonder what could be found in the pages of his other book published the same year as the Exposition :

- Michael Maïer et la vulgarisation scientifique,(!) Paris, Chamuel, 1889.

Beside his positivist/contemptuous views on alchemy, he also, on a few occasions, throws the blame for the national woes on "les empoisonneurs judéo-germaniques"(p. 161), and on freemasonry for his own setbacks; as in chapter XI, when he gets fired, but finds out later that his lab director was “un haut gradé de la Maçonnerie — il était chevalier kadosch” (p.196).

Yep, that kind of guy.
.

Last edited on Tue Oct 29th, 2013 07:22 am by Carl Lavoie




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