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The Alchemist is an engraving from Netherlandish artist Pieter Bruegel and is the first of a series of three.
This region in Northern Europe was famous for its work in this medium during this time as well as onwards into the Dutch Golden Age. Skilled draughtsmen were able to produce multiple copies of their work and boost their financial status. With no printing press at this stage, everything was manual and hand crafted, ensuring high quality but low efficiency. Many in the present day now look back at these times with great fondness and long for the times before homogenous production.
The design is typical of Bruegel the Elder, with a hive of activity spread right across the composition. The clear lines found in this medium add a clarity that could not be achieved with oils. It is believed that multiple artists may have been involved in the construction of this engraving, with Bruegel completing the initial design before others then turned it into a final etching.
It can be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and their website lists Philips Galle as a collaborator on this piece, plus Hieronymus Cock as the publisher. THe latter was a highly respected etcher, making that likely. The Met itself has a fine collection of all manner of antiquities and is well worth a visit. The etching now has a status of being in the Public Domain.