Monday, May 20, 2013

Alchemist, Glassmaker, Priest

'The Mineral Silver' A. Neri, MS Ferguson 67
Conciatore is the title of my new book. It is about the fascinating life and work of a man who lived four hundred years ago in Florence, Italy. He was at the same time an alchemist, a glassmaker and a Catholic priest. His name was Antonio Neri and he worked for a prince from the Medici royal family. Neri is famously known as the author of the first book devoted to the subject of making glass (L'Arte Vetraria, 1612). He has often been considered a mysterious figure, steeped in the intrigues of alchemy and transmutation. On the other hand, he put great store in careful experimentation and research. As a contemporary of fellow Florentine Galileo Galilei, he experienced both the germination of modern science and the waning days of Aristotle’s four-elements. It was a time when art, religion, ancient philosophy and the pursuit of Nature’s secrets all went hand-in-hand.  

In late Renaissance Italy, the word conciatore was used to describe the specialist who refined the ingredients for glass and formulated the batch. In Neri’s case, this ranged from the celebrated Venetian style ‘cristallo’, to the swirling colors of ‘calcedonio’, to brilliant, sparkling imitation gems. The book visits his family, his friends and his associates to form a picture of a complex man, living in an extraordinary time.

After a decade researching Neri, I am anxious to share his story. I invite you to join me here, where on a regular basis I will post details of his life, his work and his philosophy. I hope to draw you into his world, and perhaps convince you that in many ways, his time was not so different from ours.

[ Posts Begin on 1 August 2013 - Watch This Space.]

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