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Title A Chemist in his Laboratory
Collection Victoria and Albert Museum
Artist Manner of Teniers, David, II (Flemish painter, 1610-1690)
Date Earliest about 1800
Date Latest 1870
Description An alchemist is seated at a desk in his laboratory holding aloft a glass beaker containing an amber liquid, surrounded by books and glass and earthenware vessels. David Teniers II was apprenticed to his father, David Teniers I, with whom he also collaborated. After his peasant scenes, alchemy was the artist's favourite theme. Alchemist's activities were of interest to many artists in the seventeenth century as the pigments and glazes artists used were produced by similar methods. As seen here, Teniers often depicted his alchemists studying or devising experiments in their laboratories, surrounded by crucibles, alembics (distillation flasks) or athanors (large metal furnaces), books, hourglasses and globes. The V&A picture appears to be a later work by an artist who had looked at several of Teniers' paintings such as The Alchemist now in Leipzig.
Current Accession Number 525-1870
Subject interior; figure; still life (vessels; books); trade and industry
Measurements 25.5 x 38cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel (hardwood {oak})
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by John M. Parsons 1870.
Publications Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, pp. 268-269, cat. no. 336.

The primary figure in the V&A picture looks much like The Alchemist now in the Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig (1.1065) and similar to Teniers' 1680 self-portrait as an alchemist now in Schleissheim Gallery, Munich.

John Meeson Parsons (1798-1870), art collector, was born in Newport, Shropshire. He later settled in London, and became a member of the stock exchange. His interest in railways led to his election as an associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1839, and he was director or chairman of two railway companies between 1843 and 1848. Much of his time however was spent collecting pictures and works of art. In his will he offered his collection of mostly German and Dutch schools to the National Gallery (which selected only three works) and to the Department of Science and Art at South Kensington, later the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Museum acquired ninety-two oil paintings and forty-seven watercolours. A number of engravings were also left to the British Museum.

Rights Owner © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Author Jennifer Sliwka



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