This engraving, by John Boydell, reproduces a lively scene of alchemists at work, after the painting "The Village Alchemist" by Jan Steen (early 1660s) in the Wallace Collection in London. Two men crowd around a third, who stirs a substance in an earthenware pot over a small flame. They hold a ragged sheet of paper—perhaps a recipe or instructions—and peer at it closely with puzzled, curious expressions. Their ragged clothes and humble setting suggest their hopes for alchemical success, gold or glory. In the background, behind a wooden tub, a woman raises a cloth to her face in distress as she tends her child.