University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science > Colour me alchemical, or: form, execution and function in alchemical illustrations

Colour me alchemical, or: form, execution and function in alchemical illustrations

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Illustrations in alchemical manuscripts have received some scholarly attention in recent years, often with a focus on the colourful and beautiful, and in exploration of a single author’s work, of a specific text and its illustrations, or of an individual manuscript. This talk will provide additional perspectives on alchemy and images through the lens of substantial collections such as those held in Cambridge archives: manuscripts not primarily selected for their artistic qualities, but by their original collectors’ miscellaneous interests, by institutions’ collection strategies and more or less successful attempts at preservation, and generally, by the chance of survival. I will offer an overview of the nature and extent of illustration in alchemical manuscripts, and then present a case study to investigate why, how and how successfully writers of manuscripts in the early modern period illustrated alchemical works. Particular emphasis will be placed on the concepts of movement in drawings and the connection between experimentation, illustration and perception.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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