The Dutch Chymist

In this engraving, a chemist (or alchemist) sits before a table, stirring a small pot on a fire. Two men in the background are reading a paper, perhaps a recipe. A woman, with a cloth over her face and a child in her arms, looks up toward empty money bags hanging from a string, in front of an inflated bladder, a reference to delusion. The signatures read: “J. Stein pinxt” and “J. Boydell Sculpt” and “Engraved from the Original Picture in the Collection of Mr. Leviez.”
Jan Steen (about 1626-1679) was a prolific Dutch genre painter with a keen sense of humor. His oil painting, “The Village Alchemist,” done in the 1660s, is now in the Wallace Collection, London.
John Boydell was a prominent engraver and print publisher in London who began in business in 1746 and specialized in reproductive prints. His biographer’s claim that he had all but discontinued producing plates himself by 1760 suggests that this image dates from around mid-century. The National Museum of Science and Industry in London dates this to 1780s, as do other sources.
Charles Leviez was a dancing master in London. Another Leviez was a print seller in Paris.
Ref: John Inganell, The Wallace Collection: Dutch and Flemish (London, 1992), pp. 359-360.
Sven Bruntjen, John Boydell (1719-1804). A Study of Art Patronage and Publishing in Georgian England (New York, 1985).
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1750
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 16 in x 11 1/2 in; 40.64 cm x 29.21 cm
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Prints from the Physical Sciences Collection
Science & Mathematics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Prints from the Physical Sciences Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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