the alchymist, in search of the philosopher's stone
by joseph wright of derby
the philosopher's stone, more properly philosophers' stone or stone of the philosophers (latin: lapis philosophorum) is a legendary alchemical substance capable of turning base metals such as mercury into gold (chrysopoeia, from the greek χρυσός khrusos, "gold", and ποιεῖν poiēin, "to make") or silver. it is also called the elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and for achieving immortality; for many centuries, it was the most sought goal in alchemy. the philosophers' stone was the central symbol of the mystical terminology of alchemy, symbolizing perfection at its finest, enlightenment, and heavenly bliss. efforts to discover the philosophers' stone were known as the magnum opus ("great work").