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adammclean
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Here is a rather fine emblem from Johann Theodor de Bry’s Proscenium vitæ humanæ sive Emblematum Secularium, which was published in Frankfurt, in 1627. This is Emblem LXV, the 'Doctor of Fools'. I spend this evening colouring it. It is obviously satirical, as are most of the emblems in de Bry's emblem book this "theatre of human life". De Bry's emblems are richly allegorical and he draws on Breughel and other paintings of that time. The de Bry family, of course, were responsible for publishing many of the great alchemical masterpieces of the opening three decades of the 17th century. This image shows a doctor holding up a urinal to inspect it. This was a common diagnostic technique in 17th century medicine. In the urine flask is a small homunculus. One of his patients is seated on the left and is being tended by the doctors assistant. His distended belly is being tapped and a stream of strange creatures spills out into a wooden tub. On the right another patient is being treated in heated bath. Here it appears that it is his head that is is infected with all sorts of dreams and obsessions. His head has become a still head or alchemical alembic and mice are being distilled off and fall to the floor.

I was drawn to this image, not only because of its delightfully humorous content and the strength of the imagery, but especially because this image is derived from an earlier alchemical manuscript. I will try and locate a copy of this and post it in a following message.

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Last edited on Thu Oct 18th, 2007 12:03 am by adammclean

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There is an "emblem"  reproduced in one of C G Jung's alchemical studies volumes, which is attributed to an "anonymous artist. However it looks like it was done by the same artist as the one above.

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Last edited on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 12:29 pm by alchemyd

adammclean
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It is rather interesting that here the patient of the right has his head is placed into the furnace, rather than forming a still-head. Also the patient on the left seated on a chair, does not have his stomach tapped, but is seen defecating the various animal and human forms. This is reminiscent of the Hell panel in Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, and though it is unlikely that de Bry would have seen this, he would have seen the engravings by Breughel and Hieronymous Cock which quote this image.

 

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Last edited on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 11:57 am by alchemyd

adammclean
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Here is the painting as reproduced in Canseliet. Somewhere I have seen a reproduction in colour of this painting, or one very similar.



 

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Last edited on Thu Feb 14th, 2008 03:22 pm by alchemyd

adammclean
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Here is a another emblem from Johann Theodor de Bry’s Proscenium vitæ humanæ sive Emblematum Secularium, Frankfurt, 1627, with an alchemical association. This image of Cupid seeingly distilling a love potion, is found in a number of emblem books.

 

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Carl Lavoie
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I would argue that this image from De Bry, the 'Doctor of Fools' (Emblem LXV of the Proscenium vit human sive Emblematum Secularium, 1627), beside its satirical aspect, also partakes to the Vanitas current, and that the ‘alchemical’ imagery, at least for the man with the ‘still-head’, is only incidental. His thoughts, depicted in the cloud above his head, don’t seems to have any link with alchemical researches; they seem quite worldly (vain).

It was done in the first half of the XVIIth century, the "golden age"of the Vanitas, and the objects depicted are typical symbols to be found in a Vanité painting (weapons, roemer, books, cards & games, flowers, lute, etc.)

Compare it with A.de Pereda (1611-1678), Le Songe du Chevalier [see second below].





adammclean
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What a wonderful vanitas painting by Pereda. It reminds me of the style of Juan de Valdes Leal (1622-1690), with whom he is contemporary.

Carl Lavoie
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It reminds me of the style of Juan de Valdes Leal...

 

...whose Finis gloriae mundi (Séville, c.1672), by the way, adorne the cover of two XXth century treatises on alchemy.

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Adam, could the Cupid on your picture, the one with the greenhouse (above, 5th message) possibly be symbolically ‘distilling tears’, rather than making a philtre?

 

Because we find this, in Le theatre des bons engins of Guillaume Le Perrière (1544) :

 

 

 

LXXIX.

Pour folle amour, les supostz de Venus,
Ont des dangers à milliers & à cents:
Les uns en sont malheureux devenus,
Aultres en ont du tout perdu les sens.
Plusieurs auteurs en termes condecents,
De c’ont escript exemples d’importance.
Gardons nous doncq’ de sa folle accointance,
Si ne voulons endurer grandz alarmes,
Car à la fin, soubz feu de repentance,
Voyez amour distiller eau de larmes.


http://www.emblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/french/emblem.php?id=FLPa079

 

 

-And here’s another alembic, as a symbol of shedding tears :

http://www.emblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/french/emblem.php?id=FSCa024

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adammclean
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could the Cupid../ possibly be symbolically ‘distilling tears’, rather than making a philtre?

Yes this could be so. In an emblem book one must consider the motto and verse as part of the intention. It is wrong to divorce images in emblem books from their context. Often there is some complex reworking of images between their appearance in emblem books and other sources.

Carl Lavoie
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This image of Cupid ... is found in a number of emblem books.

Another use of that device of an alembic distilling tears.

“Through the tears that I shed by thousands my sorrow must needs be distilled through my eyes from my heart, which has in it both sparks and tinder;”

http://books.google.ca/books?id=dyqRcvekY_QC&lpg=PA505&ots=h8kVpt5fMW&dq=viridarium%20chymicum&pg=PA90#v=onepage&q=viridarium%20chymicum&f=false
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adammclean
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I just found this 18th century painting of the image. It is in the Bridgeman Art Library. It is similar to, but not the same as, the painting I showed earlier, reproduced in Canseliet.

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Last edited on Thu Jul 17th, 2014 01:48 pm by adammclean

Carl Lavoie
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Another ‘still head’. From the XVII c. Figure di vasi e fornelli di fra Donato, eremita domenicano Napolitano.



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