Alchemical symbolism, 1657.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Woodcut. Alchemical imagery is full of rich and complex symbolism. Each of these four scenes represents an important alchemical concept. Mars is represented by the metal iron and Venus by the metal copper; men are working with the metals, grinding or beating them. The scenes representing antimony and mercury are rather more obscure, but probably represent the medicinal uses of these metals. Illustration from 'Le Vray et Methodique Cours de la Physique Resolutive Vulgairement dite Chymie' ('The True and Methodical Course in Resolutive Physick, Commonly called Chemistry'), by Annibal Barlet, 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.