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Core Record

Title A Philosopher in His Study
Alternative Title An Alchemist in His Laboratory
Collection Wellcome Library
Artist Attributed to after Thomas, Gerard (Flemish artist, 1663-1720)
Previously attributed to after Bossche, Balthasar van den (Flemish painter, 1681-1715)
Date Earliest possibly 1650
Date Latest about 1900
Description A philosopher is shown in his study reading a book of Galen. Paintings on philosophy and alchemy 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. The themes are used as an illustration of human folly involving futile searches. This painting is by a Flemish artist and is by or after Gerard Thomas.
Current Accession Number 45112i
Former Accession Number P 204/1974
Inscription front cr 'LIBERPRI/ MVSGALENI'
Subject figure; interior; everyday life; still life; animal (dog; scorpion; reptile (?)); allegory (folly; vanitas)
Measurements 70.5 x 87.4 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Henry Solomon Wellcome 1936.
Notes The inscription 'Liber Primus Galeni' is the first book of Galen. Most of Galen's books were on philosophy, medicine and theology. This work is based on a picture by Gerard Thomas Het atelier van een beeldhouwer met bezoekers, ref. no. 0000135747 at the RKD. The composition is identical but a number of the faces and figures have been changed stylistically. It is also very close in style and layout to a painting by Gerard Thomas, The Quack, Sale, Bonham's, London, 9-10 July 2002, lot 321. A number of the items in the Wellcome Library painting are identical to those in the Bonhams work. The same group of figures found front lower left are also identical to a work by Balthasar van den Bossche (;) at the Witt Library.
Rights Owner (c) The Wellcome Trust
Author Dr Madeleine Korn



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