The Alchemy web site on

Splendor solis

There are 18 manuscripts of the Splendor solis (not all early or with illustrations), but the earliest copies are thought to be from around 1532. The well known manuscript in the British Library is dated 1582. The work has 22 coloured drawings most of them in ornate frames. The descriptions below are of the core symbolic material taken from the printed versions. It was issued under the authorship of Salomon Trismosin, Aureum vellus, Rorschach, 1598 with 22 woodcuts. This was reprinted at Hamburg in 1708 with engraved versions of the images. It is now thought that the Splendor solis was written by Ulrich Poysel.
Back to descriptions of sequences . Back to symbolism page .

Emblem 1. A coat of arms with ornate foliage, has a shield bearing the image of the Sun. Above this another Sun shines down.
Emblem 2. A philosopher stands holding in his right hand a flask containing liquid. He points to this with his left.
Emblem 3. A knight in armour wearing a crown, and brandishing a sword in his right hand and holding a shield in his left, stands upon an ornate double fountain.
Emblem 4. A Queen standing under a Moon on the left holds a banner in her left hand to which she points with her right. A King standing under a Sun is on the right. He holds a sceptre in his left hand. Around this is a banner which he points to with his right hand.
Emblem 5. Two miners excavate a small hill with pick-axes. Upon this hill are two deer. In a lake at the base is a crescent Moon.
Emblem 6. Two philosophers discuss matters under a tree which has a crown around the base of its trunk. They point to the branches of the tree within which are a number of black and white birds. A man is climbing a ladder to collect something from the tree.
Emblem 7. A King stands beside a lake, holding a sceptre in his right hand, and an orb upon which a bird perches. Behind him the sun rises or set behind a hill. In a lake or swamp on the right another king is seen sinking down into the water, as if dying.
Emblem 8. A crowned angel above whose head a six-pointed star shines. She holds out a cloth to a naked man who is emerging from a lake, or swamp.
Emblem 9. A winged hermaphrodite stands holding an egg is its left hand, and a cross section of a sphere in four concentric layers, in its right hand.
Emblem 10. A man with a sword has dismembered a man's naked body on the ground before him. He holds the head of the man in his left hand. In the background is a classical temple.
Emblem 11. A man with a bird sitting upon his head, stands in a vessel which is being heated upon a furnace. This is tended by a young boy with bellows. From a spout on the left a stream of liquid is collected into a flask.
Emblem 12. A crowned flask with open top is heated upon some flames. Within the flask a young naked boy works a pair of bellows within the mouth of a winged dragon.
Emblem 13. A crowned flask with open top is heated upon some flames. Within this three birds are fighting each other.
Emblem 14. A crowned flask with open top is heated upon some flames. Within it a three headed cockerel, each head bearing a crown, stands with wings outspread.
Emblem 15. Within a crowned flask with sealed top is a three headed winged dragon.
Emblem 16. Within a crowned flask with sealed top, a peacock reveals its resplendent tail.
Emblem 17. Within a crowned flask with open top, a Queen stands holding an orb in her right and a sceptre in her left hand.
Emblem 18. Within a crowned flask with open top, a King stands holding an orb in his left and a sceptre in his right hand.
Emblem 19. With a landscape with trees, a dark Sun or Moon rises or sets behind a hill.
Emblem 20. Three children are at play. One rides on a hobby horse, the others play with baton and whip.
Emblem 21. Two woman are beating and washing clothes beside a fountain.
Emblem 22.