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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

Einhard  

D. A. Bullough

[Eginhard; Einhart]

(b c. ad 770; d 837).

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 (c. 735–804) and others. His most notable product was the Life of his patron Charlemagne, written in the late 820s. It was after Charlemagne had died that his son Louis the Pious elevated Einhard to the post of private secretary. It was in this post and under Louis’s patronage that he wrote the Vita Karoli Magni, which is still one of the principal sources for much of our knowledge of Charlemagne. Contemporaries recorded his small stature and lively conduct, and his nickname Be(se)leel, after Bezaleel, the worker in precious metals in Exodus 31:2–5....

Article

Flemish, 16th century, male.

Born c. 1522, in Louvain; died 9 October 1556, in Louvain.

Writer, medallist, painter.

Louvain School, Flemish School.

Antoine Morillon worked as a librarian in the service of Cardinal Granvelle. He is known to have travelled to Rome in 1550. Morillon is remembered for his manuscript illustrations, examples of which are preserved in the libraries of Besançon and Tournai....

Article

Lon R. Shelby

[Hans]

(fl 1487; d after 1518).

German goldsmith. Because Schmuttermayer wrote a booklet on pinnacles (Fialenbüchlein), published in Nuremberg in the late 1480s, most scholars have assumed he was a master mason. But although in his prologue he mentioned ‘other great and famous masters, such as the Junkers of Prague’, by which he meant the Parler family of master masons, he did not state his own profession.

In the late 1480s Schmuttermayer’s name began to appear regularly in the court records of Nuremberg, and the first references to him intimated that he was a goldsmith. In 1487 he was sued by a woman who claimed that he had a silver cane that belonged to her. In the same year Hermann Laisner certified that he owed money to Albrecht Dürer and Hanns Schmuttermayer. This was probably Albrecht Dürer the elder, who was a goldsmith and father of the famous artist. In 1489 a financial agreement was recorded between Hanns Schmuttermayer, ...