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The Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story (1998)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446674842, Paperback)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 Loeffler
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:52 -0400)
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