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Alchemy  

Laurinda Dixon

Ancient science from which modern chemistry evolved. Based on the concept of transmutation—the changing of substances at the elemental level—it was both a mechanical art and an exalted philosophy. Practitioners attempted to combine substances containing the four elements (fire, water, earth, and air) in perfect balance, ultimately perfecting them into a fifth, the quintessence (also known as the philosopher’s stone) via the chemical process of distillation. The ultimate result was a substance, the ‘philosopher’s stone’, or ‘elixir of life’, believed capable of perfecting, or healing, all material things. Chemists imitated the Christian life cycle in their operations, allegorically marrying their ingredients, multiplying them, and destroying them so that they could then be cleansed and ‘resurrected’. They viewed their work as a means of attaining salvation and as a solemn Christian duty. As such, spiritual alchemy was sanctioned, legitimized, and patronized by the Church. Its mundane laboratory procedures were also supported by secular rulers for material gain. Metallurgists employed chemical apparatus in their attempts to transmute base metals into gold, whereas physicians and apothecaries sought ultimately to distill a cure-all elixir of life. The manifold possibilities inherent in such an outcome caused Papal and secular authorities to limit and control the practice of alchemy by requiring licences and punishing those who worked without authorization....

Article

Mark Jones

French medallist, engraver and illustrator. He was first apprenticed to the medallist André Lavau (d 1808) and then attended the Académie de Peinture et de Sculpture in Bordeaux. In 1786 he travelled to Paris and entered the workshop of Nicolas-Marie Gatteaux. His first great success was a large, realistic and highly detailed medal representing the ...

Article

Antico  

Italian, 15th – 16th century, male.

Born c. 1460; died 1528, in Bózzolo.

Goldsmith, sculptor, medallist, copyist. Statues, statuettes.

Antico was from Mantua and went to Rome in 1495 and 1497. His first commission was in 1479, for a pair of medals commemorating the wedding of Gianfranceso Gonzaga to Antonia del Banzo. His first visit to Rome, in ...

Article

Philip Ward-Jackson

English sculptor, silversmith and illustrator. He was the son of a chaser and attended the Royal Academy Schools, London. At first he gave his attention equally to silverwork and to sculpture, exhibiting at the Royal Academy from 1851. An early bronze, St Michael and the Serpent...

Article

Italian, male.

Metal worker, engraver (burin).

On record as having worked on (bound or gilded) the choir books in Ferrara Cathedral.

Article

French, 20th century, male.

Born 1920, in Paris.

Painter, lithographer, illustrator. Animals. Medals.

The son of an architect, and a gifted student of chemical engineering, Jacques Birr discovered painting at a very young age. As a Bachelor of Science, he pursued a career in the printed fabrics sector of industry. In ...

Article

French, 19th – 20th century, male.

Born 25 November 1868, in Bordeaux; died 27 June 1947, in Paris.

Sculptor, illustrator. Statues, busts, medals.

Having chosen an artistic career, Léon Blanchot left university to train as a sculptor at the École des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux, then went to Paris and settled there. He regularly took part in the Salon des Artistes Français, and became a member of this society. His main works are ...

Article

British, 20th century, male.

Born 4 January 1887, in London; died 1941.

Painter, illustrator, metal worker, textile designer. Landscapes.

Gregory Brown designed posters for railway companies, the Empire Marketing Board and for the Underground Group from 1914 to 1940. He won a gold medal for textile design at the ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

American clockmaker and silversmith. After an apprenticeship in Norwich, CT, he established a business in East Windsor, CT. He made fine longcase clocks with brass works and faces of engraved silver. His day-books and ledgers survive, and show that he made and sold only 49 clocks in the course of 20 years....

Article

British, 20th century, male.

Born 14 August 1888, in London; died 14 February 1929, in London.

Painter, medallist, illustrator. Portraits, landscapes.

London Group.

Sydney Carline was the son of George Carline and brother of Richard and Hilda Carline. He studied from 1907 to 1910 at the Slade School of Art in London and then in Paris. During World War I he served the Royal Flying Corps with his brother Richard and was posted to Italy, the Western Front and in the Middle East. He was appointed official war artist with the R.A.F. in ...