The Alchemist

Mattheus van Helmont1600s

Science History Institute

Science History Institute
Philadelphia, United States

This scene depicts tools and materials used both in alchemy and in art—most notably the large écorché figure placed on the alchemist's table, which was used by artists and students of human anatomy. A human skull, books, candles, a globe, and glassware rest alongside it. The alchemist himself studies a flask held in his left hand, likely performing a uroscopy, as his young assistant tends a distillation apparatus over a fire in a small furnace at left. To the rear of the chamber other assistants gather near a larger furnace. Tongs, an anvil, and other tools suggest they are working with metals.


  • Title: The Alchemist
  • Creator: Mattheus van Helmont
  • Creator Nationality: Flemish
  • Date Created: 1600s
  • Provenance: Gift of Fisher Scientific International, Science History Institute
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Public Domain Mark 1.0
  • External Link: View our digital collections
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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