A few weeks ago I was able, at great expense (£100, $200) to obtain a copy of a book for which I had been looking for over 10 years. This is an Italian book presented by the art historian Bruno Nardini entitled Zoroaster Ermetismo e Alchimia which contains reproductions of 38 coloured drawings in an 18th century German manuscript Zoroaster: Clavis Artis. This manuscript is in three volumes and was bought by Nino Rota, the Italian film composer, who worked with the director Fellini and is best known for his music for the Godfather trilogy of films. Rota was able to collect a substantial library of alchemical books and manuscripts and this was ultimately given to the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome.
Nardini wrote a introductory commentary to the set of images. This is rather poor and displays his lack of understanding of alchemical imagery. Indeed he is, obviously, unaware of other similar alchemical emblems, and instead waffles on in a tiresome way with inappropriate explanations and psychological interpretations that just display his ignorance of the alchemical context. He also misdates this work to the 17th century when it is 18th, and misses the key clue to its origins, as the phrase 'R. et A. C.' appears on one of the opening folios. This locates it to the circle of the Rosae et Aurea Crucis, the mid to late 18th century Masonic-Alchemical ritual group. Anyone with any grasp of alchemical imagery will immediately see in the images in the second volume references to the Nicolas Flamel series in Abraham Eleazar, Uraltes chymisches Werck, Erfurt, 1735. The third book has many images of dragons/snakes and I look forward to working to understand the structure of this complex sequence. I am so pleased to have this work in my hand after 10 years of trying to find it.
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Last edited on Tue Oct 9th, 2007 11:51 am by adammclean