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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

British, 20th century, male.

Born 13 November 1914, in Fulham, London; died 12 June 2000, in Aberdeen.

Painter, lithographer, wood engraver, poet. Still-lifes, landscapes, portraits.

Leonard Appelbee studied under Clive Gardiner at Goldsmiths College from 1931 to 1934, and under Barnett Freedman at the Royal College of Art ...

Article

Alan Crawford

English designer, writer, architect and social reformer . He was educated at King’s College, Cambridge. As a young man he was deeply influenced by the teachings of John Ruskin and William Morris, and particularly by their vision of creative workmanship in the Middle Ages; such a vision made work in modern times seem like mechanical drudgery. Ashbee played many parts and might be thought a dilettante; but his purpose was always to give a practical expression to what he had learnt from Ruskin and Morris. An intense and rather isolated figure, he found security in a life dedicated to making the world a better place....

Article

Swiss, 19th – 20th century, male.

Active in Germany.

Born 31 December 1849, in St Gall; died 1921, in Planegg.

Architect, painter, decorative designer, theorist. Designs (furniture/fabrics/metal objects/ceramics).

Jugendstil.

From 1868 to 1871 Hans Eduard von Berlepsch-Valendas was a student of architecture with Gottfried Sempers in Zurich. After graduating he abandoned architecture while he was living in Frankfurt, to go and train as a painter in Munich (...

Article

Hans Frei

Swiss architect, sculptor, painter, industrial designer, graphic designer and writer. He attended silversmithing classes at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich from 1924 to 1927. Then, inspired by the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925), Paris, by the works of Le Corbusier and by a competition entry (...

Article

Erich G. Ranfft

German medallist, sculptor and writer. He trained in medal arts and sculpture at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Frankfurt am Main (1891–7) and in Paris (1897–9) at the Académie Julian. He dedicated himself to making medals and assimilated the naturalistic and Impressionist styles current in French art, as in his baptismal medal ...

Article

Alessandro Nova

Italian goldsmith, medallist, sculptor and writer. He was one of the foremost Italian Mannerist artists of the 16th century, working in Rome for successive popes, in France for Francis I and in Florence for Cosimo I de’ Medici. Among his most famous works are the elaborate gold figural salt made for ...

Article

Tadeusz Chrzanowski

Polish goldsmith, engraver and writer. He produced engraved frontispieces for J. Liberius’s book The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Sea Star (1670) and his own work St Elegius’s Life … (1687). He is noted in the guild records from 1689. Few of his silver pieces have been identified, as he did not use name marks. The impressive monstrance in St Mary’s church in Kraków is attributed to him. Works that are certainly by him include the ‘robes’ on the painting of the ...

Article

French, 19th – 20th century, male.

Born 1867, in Annecy; died after 1926.

Painter, watercolourist, engraver, medallist, illustrator, art writer. Portraits, scenes with figures.

André Charles Coppier exhibited in Paris at the Salon des Artistes Français and at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, of which he was a member. He was awarded silver at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in ...

Article

Anna Szinyei Merse

Hungarian painter, printmaker and writer. After a difficult childhood and military service during World War I, he learnt silversmithing and drawing in Dés (now Dej, Romania). From 1921 he worked in a factory in Budapest. He studied drawing in the evenings at the School of Applied Arts, then at the Free School of ...

Article

Francesco Paolo Fiore and Pietro C. Marani

Italian architect, engineer, painter, illuminator, sculptor, medallist, theorist and writer. He was the most outstanding artistic personality from Siena in the second half of the 15th century. His activities as a diplomat led to his employment at the courts of Naples, Milan and Urbino, as well as in Siena, and while most of his paintings and miniatures date from before ...

Article

Rosamond Allwood

Scottish designer, Botanist and writer. He trained at the Government School of Design, Somerset House, London, between 1847 and 1854, during which time he was strongly influenced by the design reform efforts of Henry Cole, Richard Redgrave and Owen Jones. In 1854 he began to lecture at the school on botany and in ...

Article

Einhard  

D. A. Bullough

German patron, writer, and possibly metalworker. He married Emma, sister of Bernharius, Bishop of Worms, and they possibly had a son, Hussin. He received his early education at Fulda Abbey, where he wrote documents between 788 and 791, although he was not ordained or professed as a monk. He then moved to the court at Aachen, which had recently been established, to continue his studies under Alcuin (...

Article

German, 20th century, male.

Active in England.

Born 2 December 1877, in Dortmund; died 10 January 1960, in London.

Sculptor, medallist, painter, draughtsman, writer. Portraits. Busts, medallions, monuments.

Jugendstil.

Benno Elkan was the son of a tailor who had been given Jewish religious instruction. He initially began training for a career in business, but gave it up to study painting in Munich. He studied with Walter Thor and Johann Caspar Herterich, the director of the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, and later with Nicolas Gysis. Later, he worked with Friedrich Fehr at the Karlsruhe academy in ...

Article

Marie-Therese Thibierge

French goldsmith, sculptor and museum curator. He studied in Paris, first at the Ecole Gratuite de Dessin and from 1831 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he was a pupil of David d’Angers and James Pradier. He worked principally as a goldsmith until 1848 but then devoted himself to the study of medieval sculpture. Throughout his career he collaborated on the restoration of many important Gothic buildings in France, notably with ...

Article

Annie Scottez-De Wambrechies

French painter, draughtsman, sculptor, medallist and writer. He first trained under Claude Arnulphy at Aix, leaving for Rome c. 1761. He remained in Italy for ten years, studying the works of Raphael and other Old Masters (see fig.) as well as Polidoro da Caravaggio, whose monochrome frescoes Gibelin later imitated in France. In ...

Article

Pascal Griener

French sculptor and writer. He worked for a goldsmith in Paris before devoting himself to sculpture, in which he was self-taught. Thanks to an allowance from an uncle who had adopted him, he was able to study sculpture in Italy in the early 1780s; there he struck up a friendship with Jacques-Louis David. On his return he was approved (...

Article

Tadeusz Chrzanowski

Polish painter, illustrator, metalworker, designer and writer. From 1924 to 1929 he studied at the Warsaw School of Fine Arts, where he was later an assistant professor (1927–30, 1933–5). From 1929 to 1930 he studied in France. He exhibited his works from 1928...

Article

M. J. C. Otten

Dutch etcher, draughtsman, painter, sculptor, medallist and writer. He is best known for his political caricatures of Louis XIV of France and for his prints glorifying William III, Stadholder of the Netherlands and King of England. De Hooghe is an important representative of the late Dutch Baroque. His style is characterized by strong contrasts of lights and darks and an expressive composition. In his prints he combined contemporary personalities with allegorical figures. His prints are numerous, but few of his drawings survive and his paintings are rarer still. De Hooghe’s first commission for an etching probably came from ...

Article

Danielle Derrey-Capon

Belgian sculptor, medallist and critic. After secondary education with the Jesuits at Namur and Brussels, he studied law at the Université Catholique in Leuven. He later enrolled at the Institut Saint-Luc in Brussels and then from 1899 to 1903 studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels under ...