The alchemist sits in a small side chamber, absorbed by his readings, as his family works to prepare a meal in the open kitchen. Household and alchemical materials merge: a distillation apparatus sits on the hearth at left, as the alchemist's wife cuts and peels vegetables at right. Though the room is cluttered with copper vessels, texts, and instruments, the scene is suffused with domestic warmth. A stuffed iguana hangs overhead, a common trope of alchemical workrooms, but it is accompanied by a taxidermied turtle: an animal which symbolizes the safety and comfort of home.


  • Title: An Alchemist and His Family
  • Creator: Thomas Wijck
  • Creator Lifespan: ca. 1616–1677
  • Creator Nationality: Dutch
  • Date Created: ca. 1660
  • Provenance: Gift of Roy Eddleman, Science History Institute
  • Subject Keywords: alchemy, alchemists, families
  • Rights: Public Domain Mark 1.0
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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