On the refinement of substances and the soul: 22 full-page miniatures on the secret doctrine of alchemy in the Renaissance

Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy

Probably Nuremberg (Germany) — Around 1572

Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy

Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy

Probably Nuremberg (Germany) — Around 1572

  1. A masterpiece of the alchemical tradition concerning the refinement of substances and the soul

  2. The 22 miniatures, whose color play reflects the rules of alchemy, show a skillful interplay of ornamental frames, architectures, and perspective

  3. This specimen speaks to the resurgence of interest in alchemy during the Renaissance

Splendor Solis. Tratado de Alquimia

Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy

Hunting and Fishing Marginalia

Two men push a boat along with poles and drag a fishing net behind them, the barrels are for transporting fish alive. A woman bends over to fill a water jug and her reflection is seen in the water. Another fisherman in red sits with a fishing pole among the reeds. To his left, a hunter kneels with an arquebus and takes aim at a fat goose while his dog resembling a modern Labrador retriever is prepared to leap in the water. Two splendidly dressed noble falconers stand on the bank behind them.

Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy

Alternative Titles:
  • Splendor Solis. Tratado de Alquimia
  • Splendor Solis. Das Traktat der Alchemie
  • Splendor Solis. Traité d’Alchimie
  • Lo Splendor Solis. Trattato di Alchimia
  • Splendor Solis. Tratado de Alquimia
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The so-called Splendor Solis from the 16th century counts as one of the masterpieces of the alchemical tradition. Throughout the 100 pages, the manuscript contains 22 full-page miniatures and its entire appearance is modeled on a medieval illuminated manuscript. The impressive paintings derive from an outstanding Nuremberg artist of the 16th century in the style of Dürer. It shows its mysterious scenes of planets and various elements, but also figural scenes, like animals and floral ornamentation in wonderful compositions. The enthusiasm for the pseudo-science of alchemy, whose ultimate goal was the Philosopher’s Stone, is found within this valuably illustrated manuscript in impressive form.

Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy

The so-called Splendor Solis from the 16th century counts as one of the masterpieces of the alchemical tradition. Throughout the 100 pages, the manuscript contains 22 full-page miniatures and its entire appearance is modeled on a medieval illuminated manuscript. The impressive paintings derive from an outstanding Nuremberg artist of the 16th century in the style of Dürer. It shows its mysterious scenes of planets and various elements, but also figural scenes, like animals and floral ornamentation in wonderful compositions. The enthusiasm for the pseudo-science of alchemy, whose ultimate goal was the Philosopher’s Stone, is found within this valuably illustrated manuscript in impressive form.

Alchemical Mysteries in Bright Colors

The miniature pages of the Splendor Solis – “Gleaming of the Sun” – are paired with a mysterious text. Rendered in the style of a medieval manuscript, the text is adorned with golden initials and is preciously illustrated. Broad frames wrap around the actual miniatures in the middle of every page. In doing so, there are many different types of pictorial composition: some a great and rectangular, other like an arched window formed around a miniature field, all surrounded by splendid golden frames with floral and faunal depictions in the brightest of colors. Then there are lavishly ornamental frames from architectural forms, like an altar room prospectively depicted through an archway or circular form. Lastly, the miniature fields are worthy of mention, in which an alchemical process is shown in the middle of an architectural framework and the frame contains a figural representation all around. These are unbelievable in their composition, as they contain figurative scenes in the foreground in the limited space of the frame, which mix in the middle ground with grandiose landscapes and architectures and are topped with a representation of the sky. Ultimately the totality of the creative ideas are difficult to put into words. Every single page offers the eye a multitude of new discoveries. Next to explicitly recognizable motifs, there are enigmatic and wonderful motifs underneath the miniatures, with which research today is concerned. As for the artist of the miniatures, research points to Jörg Breu the Elder, as well as the famous manuscript painter Albrecht Glockendon. Both count among the most outstanding artists of Nuremburg in the time after Albrecht Dürer.

The Most Famous Alchemic Script of the 16th Century

The Splendor Solis concerns itself with alchemical scenes, mainly with the Philosopher’s Stone, and its fabrication and methodology. Alchemy as a science, which already was known to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, survived to see a new heyday in the 15th and 16th centuries. The main intent of alchemy was the metamorphosis of non-precious metals into precious ones, whereby gold was the most prized goal of all. The text of Splendor Solis was originally attributed to the legendary Salomon Trismosin, and is likely a translation of the mysterious Aurora consurgens, an alchemical text from the 15th century. Trismosin counts as one of the most famous German Alchemists of the 15th and 16th centuries, who even was alleged to have discovered the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone, and had published numerous texts himself. The Splendor Solis survives today in 20 specimens, many of which can be found in the collections of the Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin or the British Library inter alia. The specimen in the Bibliothèque Nationale of France is outstanding in its artistic form. A miniature of the manuscript is dated to the year 1577, which is the generally accepted placement of the manuscript’s origin.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Splendor Solis. Tratado de Alquimia
Splendor Solis. Das Traktat der Alchemie
Splendor Solis. Traité d’Alchimie
Lo Splendor Solis. Trattato di Alchimia
Splendor Solis. Tratado de Alquimia
Size / Format
100 pages / 30.0 x 21.0 cm
Date
Around 1572
Language
Illustrations
22 beautiful full-page miniatures, with ornamental borders depicting vegetation and architecture
Content
The Splendor Solis, an important treatise on alchemy written at the dawn of modern science, consists of text accompanied by a series of elaborate images set in ornamental borders and niches similar in style to the decorative borders used in book of hours
Splendor Solis. Tratado de Alquimia

Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy

Mars – The Three-Headed Bird

The Seven Flasks were one of the numerous themes of alchemy, the symbolic process showing the classical alchemical death and rebirth of the king with each flask associated with a planet. This miniature is associated with Mars and the deity is depicted riding a wheeled throne drawn by two horses through the sky armed with sword and shield.

Each of the birds is crowned, as is the flask itself, which is presented within a niche that is elaborately decorated with floral motifs. Scenes of war unfold in the surrounding miniature, including a burning city in the distance. A combat scene between armored knights and heavy infantry unfolds in the lower margin as more soldiers drive a herd of animals to supply the army.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy“

Splendor Solis. Tratado de Alquimia
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Splendor Solis - Treaty of Alchemy – Ms. All. 113 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
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Splendor Solis. Tratado de Alquimia

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia
Limited Edition
999 copies
Commentary
1 volume (114 pages) by Alejandro García Avilés and Carlos Espí Forcén
Languages: Spanish, Italian, English, German
Price Category: €€€
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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