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Pharmacy Jar


Artist: Unknown Spanish Artist Primary
Date: 1440-1460
Dimensions: 11.13 x 6.25 x 6.25 in. (28.26 x 15.88 x 15.88 cm)
Object Type: Decorative Arts
Creation Place: Europe, Spain, Valencia
Medium and Support: Earthenware
Credit Line: Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Collection, 1956 (56.171.91)
Accession Number: L2010.01.19
On View: Bellarmine Hall Galleries


Medicated waters, perfumes, and medleys of herbs were typically stored in albarello jars. Instructions for use, as prescribed by a physician, were given in the form of poetry as a memory aid for the illiterate. This jar depicts a stylized bryony vine, a plant used in the medieval period as a purgative and diuretic. Made in Manises (Valencia), Spain, the jar’s design and function reflect the influence of different cultures. The shape and use of the jar originated in the Middle East. Vivid shades of blue and white imitate the colors of Chinese ceramics.



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