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Glenn Adamson
The American Arcanum: Porcelain and the Alchemical Tradition

Ceramics in America 2007

Full Article
Contents
  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

    Pickle stand, American China Manufactory, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1770–1772. Soft-paste porcelain. H. 5 1/2". (Courtesy, Kaufman Americana Collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) 

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    Detail of the pickle stand illustrated in fig. 1. 

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    Bottle, Medici porcelain factory, Florence, Italy, ca. 1575–1587. Soft-paste porcelain. H. 6 13/16". (© V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London, www.vam.ac.uk.)

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Teapot, Meissen porcelain factory, Germany, ca. 1715. Red stoneware. H. 3 3/4". (© V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London, www.vam.ac.uk.) 

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    Jug and cover, attributed to the Meissen porcelain factory, Germany, 1725–1730. Porcelain. H. 5 9/16". (© V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London, www.vam.ac.uk.)

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Christoph Weigel (1654–1725), The Alchemist, or Goldmaker, 1698. Engraving on paper, 3 3/8" x 3 1/8". (Courtesy, Wellcome Library, London.)

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    J. Zoffany, David Garrick as Abel Drugger in Ben Jonson’s “The Alchemist,” 1770. (Courtesy, Sotheby’s Picture Library.) 

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Thomas Frye, Self-Portrait, 1760. Mezzotint. 18 5/8" x 12 9/16". (© V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London, www.vam.ac.uk.)

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Sauceboat, Derby Porcelain Factory, England, ca. 1753. Soft-paste porcelain. L. 7 1/4". (© V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London, www.vam.ac.uk.)

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Dish, attributed to the workshop of Bernard Palissy, 1565–1585. Earthenware with colored glazes. L. 21". (© V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London, www.vam.ac.uk.)

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    Tazza and cover, attributed to the workshop of Bernard Palissy, third quarter of the sixteenth century. Lead-glazed earthenware. H. 6 1/2". (© V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London, www.vam.ac.uk.)

  • Figure 12
    Figure 12

    Crucibles, John Dwight pottery, Fulham, England, ca. 1680. High-fired stoneware. H. of tallest approx. 3 1/2". (Courtesy, Museum of London; photo, Hilary Young.)

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    Adriaen van Ostade (1610–1685), An Alchemist, 1661. Oil on oak. 13 3/8 x 17 13/16". (Courtesy, National Gallery, London.) The crucibles are in the center foreground.

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    A personification of Alchemy, from A Collection of Treatises and Poems on Alchymy, Netherlands, seventeenth century. (Courtesy, British Library.) The crucibles are in the lower left foreground. 

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Sauceboat, American China Manufactory, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1770–1772. Soft-paste porcelain. H. overall 4", L. 8". (Courtesy, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Daniel Berry Austin; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)