- Reference number
- Teniers, David (Flemish)
- The Alchemist
- 32 cm x 25 cm
- Género y sociedad
- On display
- Colección Real (Real Alcázar, Madrid, pieza que cae al parque a la entrada de la galería del Cierzo, 1700, nº 163; Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, pinturas recogidas de la casa de Bedmar, 1747, nº 1027; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, paso de tribuna y trascuartos, 1772, nº 1027; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, retrete [1º], 1794, nº 127; Palacio Real, Madrid, retrete a la inglesa, 1814-1818, s.n.).
And alchemist, recognizable by his characteristic cap, fans the fire in his laboratory. The presence of books, flasks and other instruments in the foreground reveal his pseudo-scientific activity. In the background, a group of three figures of a certain social standing appear to be discussing the subject from a theoretical standpoint.
This work is paired with The Surgical Operation (P1803) and both offer Tenier's critical view of these activities halfway between science and trickery.
Here, Teniers follows the traditional treatment of this subject visible in the works of Pieter Brueghel. As in many of Teniers' works, the scene is set indoors. The use of color and oppressive atmosphere tie this to the work of his teacher, Adriaen Brouwer, although Teniers gives light a greater presence, and the colors are brighter. The depiction of objects and utensils, which is habitual in his work, shows his skill at rendering reality meticulously.
This work was documented at Madrid's Alcázar Palace since at least 1734.