Portrait of Paracelsus

Portrait of Paracelsus
Portrait of Paracelsus

The painter Quentin Metsys (1465 – 1530) has left us some of the most interesting works of Flemish painting of theRebirth. For example, thanks to him we can learn much more about the bourgeoisie of the time and certain trades, as he shows us in paintings such as The moneychanger and his wife. As well as we have several works in which he portrayed key characters for the thought of his time as in the double effigy he made of Erasmus and Aedigius.


Portrait of Parcelso

Well, another important character of that time in the first decades of the 16th century whom he made a portrait of was the Swiss Paracelsus (1493 – 1541). A character whose real name was Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim, but he changed it to Paracelsus, whose translation is something like "more than Celsus", a famous doctor of Imperial Rome.

Actually, he considered himself superior to any other doctor who had come before him. He in fact he was able to publicly criticize the fathers of medicine like the GreeksGalenandHippocrates, or burned the books of the Arabic Avicenna.

The reason is that he had a different view of the craft from him. If until then all remedies were based on substances made from plants and even animals, he introduced the world of minerals, especially mercury, sulfur and s alt.

Paracelsus had studied medicine and knew the whole history of this science. But he chose a different path than the centuries-old tradition dictated. His process linked him with alchemy and also with astronomy. It is true that thanks to him, remedies such as laudanum emerged, in addition to other drugs based on chemical mixtures of minerals. But he also gave his work a magically gifted relationship. Kind of like a shaman. According to him, it was necessary to know the microcosm of each organism in order to be able to relate it to the order of everything, and thus heal. Something that was as simple (and as complicated) as separating the pure from the impure. And that's where alchemy came in, which was not used to make gold, but to heal.

For this it was necessary to separate the different chemical and mineral elements to be used. He resorted to calcination, distillation or sublimation to obtain pure substances such as mercury. A technical work but also magical. That added to his ability to spread his theories, along with more than one cure, made him gain great prestige at the time, as the legend in the lower part of the portrait says: The famous doctor Paracelsus.

And it is clear that he was a character of his time, in which religion and magic were mixed with science, but he was also an advanced and a pioneer, since today the world of pharmacology it is unthinkable without mineral resources and chemical knowledge.

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