About Khunrath and his work
Heinrich Khunrath. Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae. [Hamburg: s.n., 1595].
Heinrich Khunrath's biography is as uncertain as his work is enigmatic. He was born in Germany,
probably in Dresden or Leipzig, circa 1560.
We know he matriculated at the University of Basel, Switzerland,
in May 1588 and received his M.D. degree on 3 September of that year, after
a defense of twenty-eight doctoral theses. 
He possibly also enrolled at the University of Leipzig
under the name of Henricus Conrad Lips in the winter of 1570. Khunrath practiced medicine
in Hamburg in 1598 and in Dresden.  He may have been the brother
of Conrad Khunrath, a contemporary whose work
"represents a masterpiece of clear, practical prescriptions." 
Evidently Heinrich Khunrath used a variety of names. 
Khunrath represents tensions typical of the late sixteenth century.
He followed Paracelsian beliefs of
divine initation into wisdom; he worked to develop Christianized natural magic; he sought to
find the secret primary matter that would lead humankind into eternal wisdom. Yet he held
experience and observation, to be the basis of his work, as would a natural
This is not to say that Khunrath's vision was shared by most natural philosophers of his
He believed himself to be an adept of spiritual alchemy;  as such, he expected the
path to spiritual perfection to be a many-staged and intricate process. Certainly the
language he used to describe the process sounds odd to modern ears.
Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae was condemned by the Sorbonne on 1 February
1625. However, it remained
popular throughout the seventeenth century and has been republished in
numerous editions even in the twentieth century. See the Bibliography
Khunrath's motto, used in many of his works, was "Was helffn Fackeln, Liecht oder Brilln,
Leute nicht sehen wölln?" (What good are torches, light, or spectacles, to those who
will not see?) He viewed his work as
a path to illumination; modern readers may impose different standards for reasonable "science."
About the artists for
Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae.
 - Die Matrikel der Universitat Basel, ed. Hans Georg Wackernagel et al.,
vol. 2 (Basel, 1956), p. 361, no. 79.
 - S.v. "Khunrath..., Conrad" and "Khunrath..., Heinrich," Dictionary of scientific biography
(New York, Scribner -1990).
 - "Khunrath..., Conrad," ibid., p. 354.
 - Claude K. Deischer and Joseph L. Rabinowitz, "The owl of Heinrich
Khunrath: Its origin and significance," in Chymia: Annual studies in the history of
chemistry, 3 (1952). These authors
also note a variety of names: "Khunrath, Kunrath, Kunraht, Cunrath, Cunrad or Conrad"
 - S.v. "Khunrath...., Heinrich," Dictionary of scientific biography, 353.