November 03, 2008
This picture was featured in one of our scientific catalogues at work. I liked it so much, that I decided to order a reprint of the painting and placed it on the wall just above my desk at home. It is called "The Alchymist" and it is painted by an English landscape and portrait artist, Joseph Wright of Derby, around 1771. I love the way he managed to capture the feeling of expectation and marvel that every scientist can recognize. The sensation that overcomes one just before getting a result or performing an experiment.
The piece is actually called The Alchymist in Search of the Philosopher's Stone and illustrates the moment of discovery of the element phosphorus by German alchemist Hennig Brand in 1669.
I love the atmosphere, the play on light and dark, creating a mysterious setting. I can see the painting every time I sit at my desk and almost always settle my eyes on it for more than a moment, as it reminds me of mankind’s curiosity and the never-ending pursuit of progress.