Compendium Naturalis

Philosophical Hall, library of Strahov Monastery in Prague

Philosophical Hall at the library of Strahov Monastery in Prague.

CompendiumNaturalis is a small visual repository of links to imagery, manuscripts and books relating to alchemy.

I’m personally fascinated by the transformative processes occurring inside us and in our environment, and started to research about the metaphysics of transformation and its underlying archetypal energies. Today we attempt to describe processes mostly with concepts and through words on a more rational plain. But I’m more interested in exploring transformation with the language we are accustomed in our dreams and imagination, and so discovered the art of alchemy.
Since ancient times, and particularly in the discipline of alchemy, metaphysical concepts are often represented and explained with the help of allegorical pictures and texts.

I was surprised by the amount of alchemical imagery I could find through digitalization projects at libraries and cultural institutions here in Europe and abroad, and so decided to create this website. Every year the number of libraries undertaking the mammoth task of digitizing their collections is growing. More and more we are able to access some extraordinary rare and beautiful imagery. Now, as never before in our culture, we are able to access past knowledge kept in far away libraries, from our own desks!

CompendiumNaturalis is really only thought to be a repository of the material I’m discovering during my personal journey. And I hope it can be of inspiration and help to anyone interested in the subject of transformation and alchemy. I do not have any academic background relating to alchemy, I’m simply a fine craftsman working with images and colours in the book printing industry, and have a particular interest in dreams, transformation and well made books.

If you have any suggestions, comments or questions, please feel free to write at: flavio(at)


A note regarding copyright.

CompendiumNaturalis is a visual repository of links and informations openly accessible on the internet. Most of the images presented on this website, refer to digital photographs of manuscripts and books that belong to cultural institutions and other organisations. CompendiumNaturalis in no way claims authorship or copyright to any of these images. Every possible effort is made to clearly and precisely state, credit and link the source of the presented digital photographs.

The purpose of CompendiumNaturalis is to inspire, motivate and facilitate the exploration of very large online collections of photographs. These digital collections are made available thanks to the extensive work undertaken by libraries and numerous other organisations and individuals in different countries. All praise goes to these cultural institutions and organisations, publishers, printing houses and individuals, for making these inspiring materials accessible.