This two-handled drug container with a bulbous body and short neck belongs to a group of wares known as "oak leaf jars" because of their decoration. This example includes two profile busts amid blue-on-white oak leaves on branching stems. On each handle is a crutch, painted in green and manganese. This was the badge of the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence. The star motif below the crutch is the workshop mark of the ceramist Giunta di Tugio, known to have received this commission in the year 1431. In the early Middle Ages hospitals were simple hospices set up outside cities to offer food and lodging to pilgrims and travelers. The Santa Maria Nuova hospital, by the mid-1300s the largest in Florence, was the first hospital in that city dedicated primarily to caring for the sick.
Two-Handled "Oak Leaf" Drug Jar with Male and Female Portraits
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