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Pharmacy jar: C.181-1991

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 6 (Upper Marlay): case 1, shelf B


Maker: Unidentified Florence pottery (Probably)
Maker: Unidentified Siena pottery (Perhaps)




Renaissance maiolica pharmacy jar, painted in blue with, round the sides, geometrical ornament between horizontal bands.

Pharmacy jar with one handle. Buff earthenware. Tin-glazed on both sides, the interior now pale beige; base unglazed. Painted in blue.
Albarello, with sloping shoulders, cylindrical neck with slightly everted rim, and, on one side, a small strap handle.
Round the sides between horizontal bands, is a broad zone of geometrical ornament comprising debased Kufic, knots and cross-hatched rectangular and irregular shapes. On the shoulder and round the lower part of the jar there are groups of vertical strokes alternating with stylised plants; on the neck, trellis pattern between horizontal bands.


History note: Cecil Leitch & Kerin Ltd., London, from whom purchased on 7 October 1932 by H.S. Reitlinger (d.1950); the Reitlinger Trust, Maidenhead, from which transferred in 1991.

Legal notes

H.S. Reitlinger Bequest, 1950; transferred from the Reitlinger Trust, 1991

Measurements and weight

Height: 24.5 cm
Width: 16.0 cm

Relative size of this object

16 cm24.5 cm What does this represent?

Relative size of this object is displayed using code inspired by Good Form and Spectacle's work on the British Museum's Waddeson Bequest website and their dimension drawer. They chose a tennis ball to represent a universally sized object, from which you could envisage the size of an object.

Place(s) associated

  • Florence ⪼ Tuscany ⪼ Italy

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1991-04-29) by Reitlinger, Henry Scipio


15th century
Circa 1440 CE - 1460 CE


This jar belongs to a group of Italo-Moresque albarelli decorated mainly in blue with debased pseudo-Kufic script, knots and cross-haatched shapes. An albarello of this type without a handle is held by Saint Clare in an altarpiece of the Virgin and Child with Saints Peter Damian, Thomas, Clare and Ursula by Giovanni di Paolo (c. 1400-82) in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena. It was painted after 1453 and therefore supports a mid-fifteen century date for this group. It also gives rise to speculation that this group of jars might have been made in Siena.

Components of the work

Decoration composed of high-temperature colours ( blue)
Rim Diameter 11.2 cm
Base Diameter 11.4 cm

Materials used in production

base unglazed Tin-glaze

Techniques used in production

Tin-glazing : Buff earthenware. Tin-glazed on both sides, the interior now pale beige; base unglazed. Painted in blue.

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.181-1991
Primary reference Number: 48308
Packing number: EURCER 316?
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Saturday 14 March 2020 Last processed: Friday 11 November 2022

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "Pharmacy jar" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-11-29 22:38:41

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{{cite web|url= |title=Pharmacy jar |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-11-29 22:38:41|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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