Readers of this blog share my interest in things chemical. The Periodic Table of the elements – which, by the way, keeps growing with new discoveries in physics – was the backbone of our education in chemistry courses. In some posts, we have discussed elements such as the rare earths and lithium so the subject remains very relevant.
The periodic table of the elements has also captured the attention of artists. A recent issue of Chemical Heritage, the beautifully illustrated magazine of the Chemical Heritage Foundation(CHF) in Philadelphia, reproduced images, owned by Jennifer Schmitt, of a number of the elements as visualized, depicted and thus popularized by artists. Tin is represented by tin soldiers and a sardine can, a World War II pilot wears an oxygen mask, palladium, named after the asteroid Pallas, is given a modernistic treatment by another artist, still another shows zinc’s medicinal uses while argon is identified as the gas that glows in lightbulbs. These illustrations bring the Periodic Table to life. (Readers interested in Jennifer’s illustrations can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The museum at CHF has a fascinating collection of old and new chemical displays and equipment and a highly modernistic, interactive display of, yes, all the elements. It is a magnet for students in the greater Philadelphia area, who visit the museum as part of a school trip to the historical district in that city. Visits to CHF’s website chemheritage.org are numbered in the millions.
Here are some of the elements in the Periodic Table as seen by a number of artists: