The alchemist's wife looks on in dismay as the alchemist himself makes a demonstration before the furnace. Behind the couple, an assistant stokes the flames with a large bellows. At left, the alchemist's children play on the floor amongst discarded vessels—one young boy even mimics his father with a miniature 'experiment' over a brazier. The alchemist's wife seems to gesture at her son, as if to accuse her husband of providing an unsuitable example. The room is cluttered with discarded tools and the family's clothes are humble. A crucifix at upper right and a devotional image of the Madonna and Child on the rear wall lend a moral weight to this scene of family life gone awry.
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