Albarello drug jar, Italy, 1790
The Latin inscription painted on to the side of the drug jar is believed to give the name of its maker “Master Pietro Sestito” and the date “1790”. It is quite possible that the jar was made by a young apprentice who was learning how to make ceramics. The shape and size of the jar is similar to others from Southern Italy. Albarello vases, with their characteristic hourglass shape and multicoloured decoration, originated in Persia. This shape was developed so that many jars could be put on one shelf, yet each still be safely removed by grasping it around the middle.
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Glossary: drug jar
A (usually earthenware) container designed to hold apothecaries' ointments and dry drugs.
The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.
A form of jar, typically from Medieval Spain, used for storing drugs. The word ‘albarello’ is of Spanish origin but historians appear divided over whether or not the design of the jar originated in Spain, Morocco or China. The shape of the waisted jar is distinctive.