The Alchemy web site on
Alchemy Academy archive
August 2001

Back to alchemy academy archives.

Subject: ACADEMY : Book - A Chemical History Tour
From: Adam McLean
Date: 2 August 2001

Has anyone seen this book ?
Does it have substantial alchemical content?

Arthur Greenberg
A Chemical History Tour: Picturing Chemistry from Alchemy to Modern Molecular Science
Hardcover - 320 pages (February 25, 2000)
John Wiley & Sons; ISBN: 0471354082

Subject: ACADEMY : Dali's L'Alchimie des Philosophes
From: Adam McLean
Date: 25th August 2001

I recently saw the 10 prints of Dali's 'L'Alchimie des Philosophes'
in an exhibition. While the imagery is pure Dali, he uses a few
alchemical symbols, King and Queen, ouroboros, and so on.
The titles are evocative of the stages of the classical alchemical
process and seem to indicate that he had looked at some alchemical
material when making this series. Unfortunately, I neglected to
note down or remember the titles of the series. I have access to
the images in a book but not to the titles.

Can anyone priovide me with the titles in their proper sequence
so I can associate them with the images?

Or is there any source, say in a book, from which Dali drew on
to make this series?

Adam McLean

Subject: ACADEMY : Dali's L'Alchimie des Philosophes
Date: Sat, 25 Aug 2001
From: Catherine Fox-Anderson

Dear Adam- while I can't answer this directly, one
clue may be Nicolas Flamel. The art historian Whitney
Chadwick, in "Women Artists and the Surrealist
Movement" writes in reference to influences in the
second Surrealist Manifesto (1929):

"Bruised by love and frustrated by the political
conflicts that had arisen in response to Surrealism's
attempt to accommodate itself successfully to the
Communist struggle, Breton (Andres) turned to the
hermetic tradition, invoking the figure of the
fourteenth century Gnostic Nicolas Flamel, welcoming
the occult in Surrealism and calling for the
exaltation of love." (p.36)

Dali's connections to the hermetic tradition via his
relationships with the philosophical explorations of
the Surrealist movement (and Breton)seems logical by

While Chadwick's focus is not on the influence of the
hermetic traditon on surrealist artists and writers
(such as Dali, Breton, Cocteau, Carrington, Varo- very
much influenced by alchemy in her art, which is also
influenced by Sufi mysticism) per se, she makes
frequent references to these influences, as well as
conflicting political ideologies (Communism-fascism)
in this work. In this book she dedicates an entire
chapter to "Women Artists and the Hermetic Tradition"
(181-218) It is a theme that is of great interest to
me, so I will keep you posted if I find what you're
looking for. What is the date on these prints, and
where did Dali make them? Spain?

Best of luck,
Catherine Fox-Anderson

Subject: ACADEMY : Oyl of Rignum
From: Steve Chapman
Date: 27 August 2001

I wanted to ask the group the following:

I am going through a journal (dated early 1760s) that contains a
number of folk remedies. The page that I am working on has me
stumped in one place.

Here is the url for the page:

The part that I am having trouble with is at the bottom of the page:

for powl evil [inflammation of the bursa in a horse's neck] take
Akea furtos [likely Aqua fortis] 3 peneworth
oyl of Rignum [spelling - can't ID] 12d
Spirits of Nitre 12d

Anyone know what oyl of Rignum may be?

Subject: ACADEMY : Oyl of Rignum
From: Michael Brosse
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001

Could it be Huile de Ricin ??

Michael Brosse

Subject: ACADEMY : Oyl of Rignum
From: Adam McLean
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001

>Anyone know what oyl of Rignum may be?

Perhaps it may be oil of lignum i.e. wood. This could well
be methyl alcohol also known as wood alcohol, made by
distilling wood chips.

Alcohol (even methyl alcohol) could be a key ingredient
of a linament such as would be needed for treating an

Adam McLean