The albarello, a vessel introduced to Spain from the Near East through the spice trade, was rapidly adopted by Valencian potters and produced in great numbers. Although the profiles of the fifteenth-century examples vary, they are all typically cylindrical, slightly concave in the center, with a sloped shoulder, a collar with a narrow-lipped mouth, and a similarly sloped bottom leading to a beveled edge base. Although earthenware covers may have been used, contemporary panel paintings illustrate the more common technique of sealing the mouth with a piece of parchment tied with a string. Generally, albarellos were labeled, not in the design, but by affixing identifying marks or inscriptions on parchment to the container. In rare cases, such as this albarello, markings were painted on and glazed. In this example, the symbol within the shield identifies the contents as a type of powder.
Maurice Chabrières-Arlès, Lyon and Paris; George and Florence Blumenthal, Paris and New York (until 1941)
Exposition rétrospective de Lyon: Notice sommaire des objets d'art exposés dans le Palais du Commerce. Lyon: Imprimerie Alf.-Louis Perrin & Marinet, 1877. no. 1133, p. 79.