GALLE, Philip
(b. 1537, Haarlem, d. 1612, Antwerpen)

The Alchemist

c. 1558
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Pieter Bruegel the Elder provided the design for this engraving that comically illustrated the vain pursuits of the alchemist and its calamitous repercussions for his impoverished family. The print includes a scholar who gestures broadly at the frenzied scene before him while pointing at a book inscribed "Alghe Mist" a clever pun on the term for practitioners of alchemy as well as the words "al ghemist," meaning everything is ruined or foul.