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Albarello vase, Italy, 1520-1580

This vase would have been used for storing medicines in a pharmacy. Such albarello-type vases originated in Persia and were widely adopted elsewhere in Europe. The vase has an hourglass shape and a multicoloured decoration. This shape was developed so that many jars could be put on one shelf, to save on space, but the jars could still be safely removed by grasping them around the middle. This type of decorated pottery is known as maiolica (or majolica) and is believed to be named after the island of Majorca, where the finest pots of this type were said to be made.

Object number:

A42659

 

Glossary:

Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

Glossary: albarello

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.