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Title A Philosopher in His Cabinet
Alternative Title The Alchemist
Collection Wellcome Library
Artist Attributed to Helmont, Mattheus van (Flemish painter, 1623- ca.1674)
Previously attributed to school of Bretschneider, Johann Michael (Bohemian painter, 1656-1727)
Previously attributed to Mieris, Frans van (Dutch painter and draftsman, 1635-1681)
Date Earliest possibly 1650
Date Latest possibly 1900
Description Paintings on alchemist and philosopher themes were popular in seventeenth-century Flemish and Dutch art. It is not known who initiated this interest but both Teniers and Ryckaert took up the theme in earnest around 1648. It is unclear whether this interior scene is of a philosopher or an alchemist as he is shown in his cabinet studying books which is usually associated with the depiction of a philosopher but he is also surrounded by bottles which indicate an alchemist.
Current Accession Number 45124i
Former Accession Number P 116/1947
Subject figure; interior; still life; animal (bird); landscape; everyday life
Measurements 64.0 x 76.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Henry Solomon Wellcome 1936.
Provenance Sale, Robinson, Fisher & Harding, London, 23 December 1920, lot 174, 26 guineas, as The Alchemist by 'Mieris'; in the collection of Henry Solomon Wellcome, December 1920.
Notes The words 'lot 92' are inscribed on the reverse. William Schupbach of the Wellcome Library believes that the work of the Polish artist Johan Michael Bretschneider (1656-1727) is similar in style and composition to this work. The face of the central figure and a number of other items have been repainted so it is difficult to judge the quality of this work.
Rights Owner (c) The Wellcome Trust
Author Dr Madeleine Korn



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