Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Two-Handled Jar with Birds and a Coat of Arms

early 1400s
Made in Florence, Tuscany, Italy
Tin-glazed earthenware
Overall: 8 1/4 x 9 3/4 x 8 7/16 in. (21 x 24.8 x 21.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1946
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 307
From 1400 on, finely turned and decorated glazed earthenwares have been associated with Florence. It is unlikely, however, that the earlier of these wares were actually made within the city walls, but rather in outlying Tuscan towns such as Montelupo, situated in the Arno valley between Florence and Pisa. Unlike the earlier Italian earthenwares, the so-called Florentine vessels initiated the use of an all-over white to gray tin-enamel glaze slip, against which the painted decoration was highlighted. For the first several decades of the fifteenth century, the palette was generally limited to tones of pale green, manganese purple (used primarily as an outline color), and, less frequently, cobalt blue. This particular example bears a coat of arms that has tentatively been identified as that of the Guida family if Siena or the Della Marchina family of Faenza. As with Spanish lusterware, the limitations of the palette rendered precise tinctures impossible, consequently, the heraldic devices are not easily identified. The vessel, made for a private individual, was probably used as a household storage jar for dried herbs, medicinal compounds, or other such substances.
Marking: Arms: unidentified: arg., a fesse between three roundels sable, 2 and 1.
Sigismond Bardac, Paris; Mortimer L. Schiff, New York (sale May 4, 1946)
The Magnificent Collection of Italian Majolica Formed by the Late Mortimer L. Schiff. New York: Parke-Bernet Galleries, May 4, 1946. no. 12, p. 5, ill.

Ostoia, Vera K. The Middle Ages: Treasures from the Cloisters and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1969. no. 85, pp. 184-185, 260.

Husband, Timothy B., and Jane Hayward, ed. The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975. no. 75, p. 66.

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