In this painting, the alchemist's face shows confusion as he studies a text, holding a flask of liquid. His young assistant stands close by and watches attentively. A collapsing pile of open books and loose pages spills across the table, while on the floor many broken earthenware vessels and jugs lie discarded amidst loose straw. At right, a distillation vessel sits in a stand over a pile of firewood. This humble, rustic interior is completed with a furnace at left, tended by two assistants.