The Chymist

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This engraving depicts a humble chemist (or alchemist) sitting before a stove, operating a bellows to stoke the fire under an alembic. Another man, at a table at the back of the room, grinds something in a mortar and pestle. The text reads “D. Teniers Pinxt” and “T. Major sculpt” and “To Richard Mead, M.D. Physician in Ordinary to his Majesty F.R.S. / This Print Ingrav’d from an Original Paining of the same Size by David Teniers, / is humbly Dedicated by his most Obedient Servant Thos Major.” It also reads “Published May 7th, 1750. accord. To Act of Parliamt” and “London sold by the Author at the Golden Head in West Street the upper end of St. Martin’s Lane” and “No. 17.”
David Teniers the younger (1610-1690) was a genre painter in Antwerp. Perhaps influenced by his wife’s grandfather, Peter Brueghel, the elder, Teniers produced numerous alchemist scenes.
Thomas Major (1720-1799) studied engraving in Paris. He returned to London in 1749 and in 1753 was named engraver to George, the young Prince of Wales who became George III in 1760. The British Museum has a manuscript “Catalogue of Prints Engraved from the Finest Paintings of the Most Eminent Masters in the Collection of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales . . . The whole Collection are Printed on Grand Eagle paper; to be had either in Sheets or Bound fit for a Gentleman’s Libraries. London. Sold by T. Major, Engraver to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales . . . 1754.” This includes 26 prints after paintings by Teniers; No. 17 is “The Chymist,” which sold for 0.2.6.
Ref: Lawrence Principe and Lloyd DeWitt, eds., Transmutations. Alchemy in Art (Philadelphia, 2012).
Jacob Wamberg, ed., Art and Alchemy (Copenhagen, 2006).
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1750
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
overall in mat: 21 3/16 in x 16 in x 1/8 in; 53.81625 cm x 40.64 cm x .3175 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Science & Mathematics
Prints from the Physical Sciences Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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