The Alchemist Discovering Phosphorus

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A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery
Artist Joseph Wright of Derby
Year ca. 1771
Dimensions 127 cm × 101.6 cm (50 in × 40 in)
Location Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Derby, England

The Alchemist Discovering Phosphorus is a painting by Joseph Wright of Derby which was finished in 1771, then redone 1795.[1] The full title of the painting is "The Alchymist, in Search of the Philosopher’s Stone, Discovers Phosphorus, and prays for the successful Conclusion of his operation, as was the custom of the Ancient Chymical Astrologers".[2] It is currently on show at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

The picture shows an alchemist trying to produce the rare philosopher’s stone, which could turn metal into gold, but instead, to his surprise, he finds phosphorus.[3] The picture has provoked many different understandings. The picture moved with Wright to Italy in 1773-1775, came back to England, was redone in 1795, but was only sold four years after his death.[1] A story was often printed in popular chemical books in Wright’s lifetime, and was widely known.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Vertesi, Janet. "Light and Enlightenment in Joseph Wright of Derby’s The Alchymist". ReoCities. http://www.reocities.com/jvertesi/wright/#_ftn11. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  2. "The Alchymist in Search of the Philosopher’s Stone (Exhibited 1771)". Revolutionary Players. http://www.search.revolutionaryplayers.org.uk/engine/resource/exhibition/standard/child.asp?txtKeywords=&lstContext=&lstResourceType=&lstExhibitionType=&chkPurchaseVisible=&txtDateFrom=&txtDateTo=&x1=&y1=&x2=&y2=&scale=&theme=&album=&viewpage=%2Fengine%2Fresource%2Fexhibition%2Fstandard%2Fchild.asp&originator=&page=&records=&direction=&pointer=&text=&resource=5230&exhibition=1654&offset=0. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  3. Nicolson, Benedict (1968). Joseph Wright of Derby: painter of light, Volume 1. Taylor & Francis. p. 118. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ms09AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA52&dq=alchemist+wright+joseph&hl=en&ei=kp6-Tf2RIMeLhQfH-7XaBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=alchemist%20wright%20joseph&f=false.