|A detail from the TEB cover with the egg|
December 16, 2009
"Alchemy" front cover, designed by Dave Loxley on 1968, actually it's not an original drawing by the artist, but it's a re-elaboration based on an old engraving taken from an ancient book titled "Atalanta Fugiens" written by Michael Meier on 1617 and published in Oppenheim, Germany (see the original reproduction of it at http://www.scribd.com/doc/8098821/Atlanta-Fugiens).
The original text, written in Latin, is about alchemy, of course, through 50 emblemas and discourses. Specifically, the image is taken from "Emblema n. 8", introduced by this epigram:
"Est avis in mundo sublimior omnibus, Ovum
Cajus ut inquiras, cura sit una tibi.
Albumen luteum circundat molle vitellum,
ignitio (ceu mos), cautus id ense petas;
Vulcano Mars addat opem: pullaster et indeExortus, ferri victor et ignis erit".
The meaning of image - basically a man (soldier?) with a blade in front of a little table with an egg on it - methaporically hints at the alchemical process to get the Philosophical Stone (i.e. the Knowledge): the soldier (i.e. the alchimist) breaks the egg (Ermete's vase) with a blade (the philosophical fire) to originate the chick (the Philosophical Stone).
Infact, the alchimist uses fire to change the vile substance in gold.
See here another b/w following variation of the original engraving:
As Vic - a reader of this blog - has noted, an important detail of the album cover is represented by the serpents around the border.
Apart the aim to protect band’s music, it must be
recalled that in alchemical tradition serpents who eats himself (Ouroborus) symbolize
cyclic time, the One in All, the Eternal Return, cyclic nature of things… (as in some more recent
TEB covers designed by Carolyn Looker…).
During an old interview to I.T. magazine (issue 63, August 29th,1969), Sweeney told that “those serpents on the cover are completely magic – they are in a protected circle, they protect the whole album and the music on it”.
Edited by Luca Chino Ferrari