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Virtueller Public Launch!

Am Donnerstag, 06. Mai, um 12.00 Uhr, gehen wir online. Anmeldung zum Launch per E-Mail.

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Please note: The opening of the exhibition has been postponed to the beginning of 2021 (due to corona).

News: In the virtual exhibition room VI Material Culture of Alchemy the connection between material or practical and philosophical alchemy will be explained. The most modern digital teaching methods will be used – especially the Digital Story to explain the iconography of a painting. In order to give an introduction to the material culture of practical alchemy by means of a contemporary representation, we have chosen the painting by David Teniers the Younger The Alchemist (1643/45) from the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum Braunschweig. Samuel Fickinger first annotated the painting with segments of text and then transferred them into a digital story using the editor Storiiiesdeveloped by Cogapp. The Storiiies editor works in the background with the new image standard IIIF. 

An online workshop developed by the Städel Cooperative Professorship shows how to begin creating a digital story and how it can ultimately be technically implemented. This online offer from the Städel Cooperative Professorship at the Art History Institute of the Goethe University (Samuel Fickinger and Leslie Zimmermann with the support of Prof. Dr. Jochen Sander) is available free of charge to all interested parties and takes users by the hand every step of the way towards creating their own digital story. See https://leszimmermann.github.io/digitales-storytelling/

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We are pleased to announce that further (international) contributors and specialists for the project and the ‚knowledge platform‘ will be added. These include Sebastian Cöllen (Uppsala), Peter Forshaw (Amsterdam), Sarah Lang (Graz), Ute Frietsch (Wolfenbüttel) and Matthias Ohm (Stuttgart). 

Leslie Zimmermann, the scientific internet editor in the project, is currently working on the texts for the homepage. There will be seven virtual rooms for the objects and related texts, a large common bibliography with a good search function and many helpful links. We plan to go online in December at the latest (somewhat delayed due to Corona). But even after that the site will continue to grow with further projects, courses and catalogue entries resulting from them. Scientists from different disciplines are cordially invited for adequate guest contributions.

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Most of the exhibition texts have now been completed and are being edited by Katja Lehnert and Berit Wagner. The planned date for the publication of the virtual exhibition is October 2020. In addition to contributions by students, there will be individual guest contributions by young scientists and specialists in the field of the connection between art and alchemy. These include Corinna Gannon (Frankfurt), Sonja Gehrisch (Frankfurt), Katja Lehnert (Frankfurt) and Sergei Zotov (Berlin/Moscow). 

There are many individual results and equally connectable reflections that bring the picture together. In the course of our research work, we have, for example, looked into the ‘Stammbuch’ – album amicorum – of Stoltzius von Stoltzenberg (1599-after 1644), a pupil of the alchemist Michael Maier and author of the alchemical anthology Chymisches Lustgärtlein (Frankfurt: Jennis 1624). The album amicorum, which is well prepared for research and kept at Uppsala University Library (from where it is available online), has been relatively well known in historical alchemy research since the 1990s at the latest. One of our innovative questions, however, was in what context the artist Matthäus Merian the Elder signed the friendship book of a fervent follower of alchemy. Another discovery is the elaborately designed entry by the Frankfurt painter Philipp Uffenbach (1566-1636), which the Uffenbach expert Ursula Opitz will discuss for the first time in the upcoming virtual exhibition. In deciphering Uffenbach’s handwritten dedication, Ursula Opitz has kindly received support and also an expression of interest in the Alchemica Illustrataproject from Daniel Solling, the online editor of the album amicorum in Uppsala (now research archivist at the Institutet för språk och folkminnen in Uppsala).

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In an extraordinary economic boom, Frankfurt publishers produced a variety of illustrated alchemical publications within only a few years. It is no coincidence that this production phase coincided with the zenith of alchemical literature in Europe and the search for the philosopher’s stone. Even then, Alchemica Illustrata from Frankfurt stood out from the crowd. To this day, the striking pictorial inventions are still to be found in every manual on alchemy or natural magic of the early modern age. They are an integral part of the cultural pictorial memory, which in recent years, in the course of innovative research on alchemy, has once again increasingly become the focus of cultural studies. 

From the perspective of the history of research, the research and student project places the thematically different pictorial inventions, which often originate from Matthäus Merian the Elder (1593-1650) and set new standards in artistic and intellectual quality, at the centre of art historical interest for the first time. The project will examine Merian’s original categories for the design of the title copper and allegorical picture sequences, the iconographic, partly medieval models, and also the significance of motif transfer. Not to be forgotten here is the exchange with Merian’s direct artist colleagues, such us Balthasar Schwan and Georg Keller, who also worked for the publishers, and who also knew how to draw from the extensive collection of images of the Frankfurt publishers Johann Theodor de Bry (whose publishing house was at times partly transferred to Oppenheim) and Lucas Jennis. In particular, the still unresolved role of the widely-travelled artist as an intimate connoisseur of alchemical matter will be examined more closely in the context of his friendly relationship with De Bry and Jennis.