Fine & Antiquarian
Published by Thames and Hudson, London, 1988
Hardbound, 320 pages with 553 b/w illustrations
Alchemy, the quest for the Philosopher's Stone, has been an "alternative" strand in the development European culture since antiquity. By the 17th century, the complex pictorial language of symbols which encoded its theories and secrets had reached a highpoint of elaboration and sophistication. With the spread of printing, the iconography of alchemy began to flower as never before. This text presents a selection of alchemical illustrations reproduced from originals contained in obscure works from the shelves of research libraries around the world. The author (son of the artist Balthus), investigates the origins of this visual tradition, interprets the symbols and provides information on the authors, publishers, patrons and engravers of these "hermetick emblems" and "hieroglyphicall figures".