Skip to main content
An Alchemist
Adriaen van Ostade
/

A man stoops over a fireplace, using bellows to stoke the fire that heats the contents of a pot standing in the flames. He is an alchemist in the process of trying to turn base metals into silver or gold. His shabby and chaotic surroundings suggest that he is so obsessed with his work that he has neglected his other responsibilities, as well as squandering his possessions away. The loose, sketchy brushstrokes the artist has used to depict some of the items strewn on the floor, such as the dirty rags and straw, emphasise the disorder of the room.

The man’s family appear in the shadowy background: two young children entertain themselves while their mother wipes the bottom of the baby on her knee. The alchemist pays them no attention as he hunches over the fire, his eyes fixed on the task in front of him.

Key facts
Artist Adriaen van Ostade
Artist dates 1610 - 1685
Full title An Alchemist
Date made 1661
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 34 x 45.2 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG846
Location in Gallery Room 27
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo