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Open Access

Pharmacy Jar

Artist: Unknown Spanish Artist Primary
Date: 1440-1460
15th century
Dimensions: 11.13 x 6.25 x 6.25 in. (28.26 x 15.88 x 15.88 cm)
Object Type: Vessel
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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Containers designed to serve as receptacles for a liquid or other substance, usually those of circular section and made of some durable material; especially containers of this nature in domestic use, employed in connection with the preparation or serving of food or drink, and usually of a size suitable for carrying by hand.
public domain
Land owned and controlled by the state or federal government. Also, the status of publications, products, and processes that are not protected under patent or copyright.
Refers to the period beginning in the Christianized Roman Empire in the fifth century and lasting until the Renaissance, which began in the 13th to the 15th century CE, depending upon which country is being discussed. The variety of styles that developed during the Medieval period are generally characterized by an evolution of the Greco-Roman tradition to incorporate Christian themes, the energetic spirit of the Celtic and Germanic peoples, and the thriving new towns populated by free men.
Pottery with a porous body, fired below 1200 degrees Centigrade. It is not vitrified, and must be glazed to render it nonporous.

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