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Sergei Zotov

I completed my BA in German Philology (Saratov State University) under the supervision of Prof. Vadim Mikhailin, and I obtained my MA in Cultural Studies (RSUH, Moscow) co-supervised by Prof. Vyacheslav Ivanov and Dr. Irina Protopopova. In 2017-2019 I worked at the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel in a project on alchemical images in the early modern period led by PD Dr. Stefan Laube. Currently I am a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, co-supervised by Prof. Ingrid De Smet and Dr. Michael Bycroft.

My PhD thesis‚ 'Alchemical Iconography as a Mediator of Knowledge: Visualising Science in European Alchemical Manuscripts of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries' focuses on the analysis and conceptualization of alchemical scientific schemes and allegorical images from European, mainly German and English treatises, such as 15th c. “Ripley’s Scroll”, Buch der Heiligen Dreifaltigkeit, Aurora consurgens, Donum dei, and 16th c. Splendor solis, Rosarium philosophorum, “Book of Lamspring”, Crowning of Nature, and many other.

The goals of my research are as follows:

-to study both alchemical and non-alchemical sources of iconography from various copies of English and German illustrated manuscripts. It would be possible to include the alchemical illustration into the broader context of the scientific illustration and trace its evolution.

-to determine influences of science and art on alchemical images, as well as to specify areas of knowledge illustrated in alchemical treatises. Besides chemistry it might be philosophy, philology, history, theology, optics, meteorology, botany, etc.

-to research the exchange of alchemical iconography throughout Europe, mainly between England and Germany.

- to analyze the reception of alchemical imagery in European visual and written cultures up to the end of the 17th c.

The results would be of interest to historians of early modern science and to Renaissance art historians, due to special nature of the alchemical illustration, that could be both schematic or allegoric, and its strong connection with scientific progress in terms of natural philosophy, chemistry, and medicine.


‘Iconographical Mayhem. The Unusual in the Orthodox Icon’. Moscow: Bombora, 2021 (in Russian). On-line excerpt here.

‘History of Alchemy. The Journey of the Philosopher's Stone from the Bronze Age to the Atomic One’. Moscow: AST, 2020 (in Russian). On-line excerpt here.

‘Suffering in the Middle Ages: Paradoxes of Christian Iconography’. Moscow: AST, 2018 (сo-authored with Mikhail Maizuls and Dilshat Kharman, in Russian). On-line excerpt here.


Stefan Laube, Sergei Zotov. Vial Movies – The Driving Forces of Nature and Their Visualization // Nuncius, 2021.

Sergei Zotov. Performative Bildstrategien für Alchemica illustrata // Berit Wagner, ed, Matthäus Merian d.Ä. und die Bebilderung der Alchemie um 1600 – Ausstellung in sieben Räumen (2021). Url:

Sergei Zotov. Transformation Atalanta fugiens in illuminiertes Buch // Berit Wagner, ed, Matthäus Merian d.Ä. und die Bebilderung der Alchemie um 1600 – Ausstellung in sieben Räumen (2021). Url: 

Sergei Zotov. Alchemy and University – Alchemie und Universität. Conference report // H/Soz/Kult. Url: 

Sergei Zotov. Allegorical Iconography of Alchemical Furnaces in 16th and 17th Century Manuscripts // Proceedings of the international conference “Alchemical Laboratories”, Leykam Publisher, Vienna, 2021 (in press).

Stefan Laube, Sergei Zotov. Titelbilder der Alchemie in der ersten Hälfte des 16. Jahrhunderts // Petra Feuerstein-Herz, Ute Frietsch (hrsg.). Begriffe, Bilder, Medien der Alchemie der Frühen Neuzeit. Wolfenbüttel, 2021 (in press).


Member of the Renaissance Society of America (RSA)
Member of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry (SHAC)

Honours and Awards