This painting depicts a bustling and prosperous workshop showing a range of alchemical activities, from metallurgical work--such as the heating of a small crucible at lower left--to medical practices, demonstrated by the figure at far right holding up a flask of urine for examination and diagnosis. The elderly alchemist works a pair of hand bellows while his assistants tend to a pair of furnaces. A celestial globe at center is joined by the pairing of an hourglass and skull, symbols of "vanitas," or vanity objects which remind the viewer of life's brevity. A small dog and parrot can also be found at right, tended by a young boy.
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