The Chemical Heritage Foundation is home to many significant collections relevant to the history of chemistry. Click on the categories above to access the online collections. You can find information on how to make the best use of the collections, to make an appointment, or arrange for rights usage under How to Access the Collections.
Art and science may seem an unlikely pair, but in fact the sciences have been the subject of artists for centuries. CHF collects these works, specifically as they correspond to the history of chemistry, alchemy, and other chemistry-related activities. Such artworks appear in a variety of media, including oil paintings and portraits, prints, sculpture, multimedia works, and contemporary and nontraditional media. CHF’s fine-art holdings are eclectic but nonetheless have considerable strength and depth in the area of art depicting early modern chemists and alchemists from the 17th to 19th centuries.
Strengths of CHF’s fine-art collection include the Fisher Scientific International Collection and the Roy Eddleman Collection, more than 90 paintings and 200 works on paper that unmask the fascinating world of the alchemists. In their pursuit of the elusive philosophers’ stone, alchemists created a body of knowledge about the material world through experiments and lab work, setting the stage for modern chemistry. Other highlights of the fine-art collection include oil paintings depicting such early modern chemical activities as distillation and metallurgy and watercolors showing the production process of the textile ramie.
A recurring theme throughout the Fisher and Eddleman Collections is iatrochemistry. The iatrochemist was a physician who believed that the conditions of health and disease could be explained by chemical principles. Artists depicted physicians conducting a uroscopy, a fundamental diagnostic test for determining the health of a patient in the 17th century. The iatrochemist examined the color and clarity of the urine as well as its smell and taste.