Imprisoned in a fairy-tale castle and under constant threat of execution by his ruthless captor, an 18th century apothecary struggled to realize the alchemist's dream. His name was Johann Frederick Bottger. But instead of transforming base metal into gold, he was to discover the formula for something even more exotic and elusive, a substance so precious it was known as 'white gold'. And it was a formula for which others were prepared to lie, cheat, steal and even kill to possess. This was the remarkable backdrop to one of the most strange and compelling episodes in European cultural and scientific history; a tale of genius and greed, of demonic cruelty and exquisite beauty, of the best and worst of which man is capable - it is the true story of the invention of European porcelain.
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Since the middle ages, Western Europeans have practiced alchemy, a primitive form of chemistry, in the great hope of transforming base metal into gold. In the early 18th century, a second great secret puzzled Western Europe's early scientists: how to make porcelain. Recently arrived from the Orient, porcelain quickly became a symbol of power, prestige, and good taste. In The Arcanum, Janet Gleeson presents an entertaining and informative account of the invention of European porcelain and the founding of the Meissen Porcelain Manufacture outside Dresden, Germany.
Her narrative focuses on three individuals: Alchemist Johann Frederick Böttger inadvertently discovered the arcanum, or secret formula, for making porcelain; Johan Gregor Herold, an ambitious artist, developed colors and patterns of unparalleled brilliance at the newly established Meissen Porcelain Manufacture; Johann Joachim Kaendler, a virtuoso sculptor, used the Meissen porcelain to invent a new art form. Interwoven with the story of Augustus the Strong, the greedy and ambitious king of the Kingdom of Saxony, who held Böttger captive until he discovered the formula, Gleeson's tale reads easily and maintains a high level of suspense and intrigue throughout. --Bertina LoefflerAbout the Author:
Janet Gleeson was born in Sri Lanka, where her father was a tea planter. After taking a degree in History of Art and English she joined Sotheby's, and later worked for Bonhams Auctioneers. In 1991 she joined Reed Books, where she was responsible for devising and writing Miller's Antiques and Collectibles. She is the author of the Sunday Times non-fiction bestsellers The Arcanum and The Moneymaker. She is also the author of three novels, The Grenadillo Box, The Serpent in the Garden and The Thief-Taker.
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Descrizione libro Bantam Books (Transworld Publi, 1999. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria P110553506927