The four cosmic elements, 1657.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 21cm x 32cm

The four cosmic elements, 1657.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Woodcut. Annibal Barlet proposed a number of cosmological arguments that included elements of alchemy and astrology. This is the fourth example, showing the four elements - Fire, Air, Water and Earth - made up of different combinations of heat, cold, dryness and humidity. Illustration from Barlet's 'Le Vray et Methodique Cours de la Physique Resolutive Vulgairement dite Chymie' ('The True and Methodical Course in Resolutive Physick, Commonly called Chemistry'), published in Paris in 1657. Although the book contains a great deal of alchemical jargon, it is for the most part good practical pharmaceutical chemistry. Barlet gave regular chemical courses in Paris, attended by the diarist John Evelyn (1620-1706) amongst others.

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