Zodiacal being, 1738.

Zodiacal being, 1738.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 25cm x 32cm


Allegorical frontispiece with alchemical imagery, showing the Sun and Moon as givers of all terrestrial and subterrestrial life. In the bowels of Mother Earth the metals mature towards their perfection. The two hands parting the curtain signify 'Reason' and 'Experience'. The hermaphrodite 'Cosmic Man', itself symbolising the alchemist, holds a lyre representing 'Harmony' and a triangle, representing 'Symmetry'. Illustration from the 1738 edition of 'Physica subterranea' ('The Physics of Things beneath the Earth') by Johann Joachim Becher (1635-1682). This edition of the work which was originally published in 1667, includes Becher's alchemical ideas and experiments on the nature of minerals and other substances.

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© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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