The Splendor Solis is one of the most beautifully illuminated alchemical manuscripts. The original manuscript of this facsimile is in the British Museum, and dated 1582. The earliest version of this text is considered to be the manuscript in the Kupferstichkabinett in the Prussian State Museum in Berlin, which is dated 1532-35. The Splendor Solis manuscript, which is illuminated on vellum, with decorative borders, beautifully painted and heightened with gold, is perhaps the most visually stunning.
The work itself consists of a sequence of twenty two images, set within highly ornamental borders. The symbolic images depict alchemical death and rebirth, and incorporate a series of seven flasks, each associated with one of the planets. Within the flasks a process is shown involving the transformation of bird and animal symbols into figures of a Queen and King, symbolizing the white and the red tincture. The imagery appears to have been influenced by the earlier Pretiosissimum Donum Dei or The Most Precious Gift of God, an earlier work consisting of twelve images depicting the transformation of white & red stones, often represented by the figures of a queen and a king. This work is thought to have first been appeared as a manuscript in 1475
The Splendor Solis has been associated with the legendary alchemist Salomon Trismosin, allegedly the teacher of Paracelsus, the great renaissance physician, astrologer, botanist and alchemist, although many scholars refute this attribution. The manuscript text was later published with woodcut illustrations, in the Aureum Vellus oder Guldin Schatz und Kunst-kammer, 1598, which was reprinted a number of times. Rauner Special Collections has a French translation, entitled La Toyson d'or, ou la fleur des thresors [QD25 .T751 1612] published in Paris in 1612, with a number of very fine engravings, some of which were hand-colored.
The original manuscript in the British Library can be viewed at the link below
The facsimile is in the Sherman Art Library Special Collection, ND3399 .T75 2010