Splendor Solis revisited


1. The Arms of the Art

I have something of an obsession with the plates of the allegorical alchemical text known as the Splendor Solis, hence another post on the subject. This new entry is partly a bookmark for my own convenience, and also a pointer for those who keep arriving here searching for these images.

The plates this time are taken from this 1922 edition at the Internet Archive which presents pages from the copy at the British Library. The colours in the reprint are washed-out and have a reddish cast but that can be easily adjusted using image editing software. The British Library has photos of their pages online for comparison. The BL edition is fenced about with the usual copyright warnings whereas the Internet Archive version is a free download here.


2. Philosopher with Flask


3. The Knight on the Double Fountain


4. Solar King and Lunar Queen Meet


The Seven Parables: 5. Miners Excavating Hill


6. Philosophers Beside Tree


7. Drowning King


8. Resurrection out of the Swamp


9. Hermaphrodite with Egg


10. Severing the Head of the King


11. Boiling the Body in the Vessel


The Seven Flasks: 12. Saturn – Dragon and Child


13. Jupiter – Three Birds


14. Mars – Triple-headed Bird


15. Sun – Triple-headed Dragon


16. Venus – Peacock’s Tail


17. Mercury – The White Queen


18. Moon – The Red King


19. The Black Sun


20. Children at Play


21. Women Washing Clothes


22. Sun Rising over the City

Previously on { feuilleton }
Laurie Lipton’s Splendor Solis
The Arms of the Art
Splendor Solis
Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae
Cabala, Speculum Artis Et Naturae In Alchymia
Digital alchemy

4 thoughts on “Splendor Solis revisited”

  1. These are really pretty and suggestive illustrations, thank you for sharing. I’m familiar with one of them (philosopher with flask) as it appears on some book, by Joscelyn Godwin I think, that is always in my amazon recommendations.

    Just a quick question, were the flasks/planets in the proper qabalistic descending order in the book or did you arrange them that way? It could easily be coincidence except that I believe that the Sun is usually not placed between Mars and Venus in astrological terms.

  2. These are all in the order they’re printed in. I hadn’t realised before there are 22 pictures, same number as in the Major Arcana of the Tarot. The paintings often remind me of Tarot images.

    The symbolism is primarily alchemical so has little connection with the Kabbalah. Symbolism in alchemy is a mutable thing but in this book the Sun represents the Great Work itself rather than any planetary attribute. The Sun rising at the end of the book signifies the Great Work accomplished. Same with the other planets, animals, etc, all of which have allegorical significance.

  3. Neat Tarot connection!

    I have precious little knowledge of historical alchemy or alchemy in practice…and what I do know is through the lens of connecting it to Tiphereth and the Holy Guardian Angel &c.

    A lot of it meshes surprisingly well with Qabalah though, but that’s probably more in the Qabalist’s imagination than in historical fact. But that’s the trick if one is into that sort of thing you know?

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