00:00
/
00:00
Wyck, Thomas
The Alchemist and Death The Alchemist and Death
1660s or 1670s 1660s or 1670s

Typically, Wyck created cluttered compositions showing alchemists surrounded by books and other scholarly attributes, with the tools of the profession present but not emphasized. These scenes, which are a development of the Dutch tradition of interiror genre scenes, carry only a touch of the negatively moralizing overtone originating with the famous print after Pieter Bruegel the Elder, which warned against the folly of alchemy and the impoverishment seen as its inevitable result. Here, many of Wyck’s usual elements are in place, including a still near the open door in the background. But the artist has added a curious scene of divination or necromancy at the lower right and, high above, a fantastic vision of dark clouds with shafts of light pouring in from the right. Apparently suspended in mid-air are an hourglass and a leather folio adorned with several seals at either end. In the centre, complementing this apparition, is a skeleton brandishing a trumpet. To the left, a figure seated at a desk reacts with an expression of shock that is mirrored in the face of the boy to the right, performing the ritual.

 
Wyck, Thomas
Beverwijk, Netherlands 1616-Haarlem, Netherlands 1677 Beverwijk, Netherlands 1616-Haarlem, Netherlands 1677
The Alchemist and Death The Alchemist and Death
1660s or 1670s 1660s or 1670s
Oil on panel Oil on panel
55.0 x 49.0 cm
Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2013 Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2013
56-003.32

Subscribe to our “This Week at Agnes” e-newsletter to stay abreast of events, news and opportunities at the art museum.