Atlas Obscura & Christie's: Alchemy in Art - Atlas Obscura Experiences
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Atlas Obscura & Christie's: Alchemy in Art

1 hour
$12 per device
See Dates
$12 per device
$12 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

Join Atlas Obscura and Christie’s for a Halloween-themed conversation with Christie’s 19th century European Art specialist Laura Mathis and Books specialist Rhiannon Knol on the art of alchemy and magic.

During this hour-long conversation, Laura and Rhiannon will explore the facts and fables behind the depiction of magic-makers and alchemists in art. The discussion will focus on two works and their scientific and literary histories: John Collier’s The Laboratory, a salacious painting of a murderess seeking poison from an alchemist by an artist known for his sensual mythic and literary depictions of women during the Victorian period; and Carl Spitzweg's Der Hexenmeister, a slyly humorous take on the Wagnerian rage for wizards and dragons.

Their conversation will traverse antiquity to the 19th century—and end with a participatory Q&A session from the audience.

Where We’ll Be


About Your Host
Laura Mathis and Rhiannon Knol
Laura Mathis and Rhiannon Knol

Laura Mathis joined the 19th Century European Art Department in 2015 and has been the New York department’s Head of Sale since 2018. She is a graduate of NYU's Department of Art History and began her career working at Richard L. Feigen and Company in New York, one of the city’s premier Old Master and 19th Century galleries. Following this, she received her MA with distinction from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and returned to New York to begin her work at Christie’s. She is responsible for sourcing, cataloguing and promoting pictures for the department’s bi-annual sales and works closely with Christie’s international department on sales at other sale sites as well. Laura has a particular academic interest in Scandinavian, Symbolist, and Art Nouveau painting.

Rhiannon Knol has been a specialist in the Christie’s Books Department since 2017, with special interests in early printing and the history of science. Prior to joining Christie’s, she was a curatorial research assistant at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and the assistant curator of the 2016 exhibition The Art of Alchemy (in Berlin, Alchemie: Die Grosse Kunst). Rhiannon holds an MA degree in Classics from UCLA, where she worked on Latin literature, ancient magic, and the history of the book.

What Else You Should Know

Once registered, you can access the Zoom room for this experience through your confirmation email or Eventbrite account. Atlas Obscura online experiences are recommended for attendees age 13+.

This event is one of Atlas Obscura’s Online Experiences. At Atlas Obscura, our mission has always been to inspire wonder and curiosity about the incredible world we all share. Now, more than ever, there’s a need to stay connected—not only to our sense of wonder, but to each other.

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