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Albarello drug jar, Italy, 1701-1800

The initials “BSA” painted on to the front of the country villa scene probably refer to the jar’s owner or the pharmacy for which the albarello was made. Alternatively, it might refer to a monastery or religious order – perhaps that illustrated on the jar. 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 but each jar could still be safely removed by grasping it around the middle. This albarello was part of the Gorga collection of ‘medical antiquities’ belonging to the Italian tenor Evangelista Gennaro Gorga (1865-1957). Gorga sold part of his collection to Henry Wellcome in 1924. A second part was offered and bought in 1936 while Gorga was experiencing financial difficulties.

Object number:

A632076

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Glossary:

Glossary: drug jar

A (usually earthenware) container designed to hold apothecaries' ointments and dry drugs.

Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.