This type of earthenware has a tin-glazed, opaque white surface that provides an excellent ground for pictorial decoration. Although this ceramic type came to Sicily directly from the Middle East, fine Spanish examples reached Italy by way of Majorca, the island that gave the earthenware its name, majolica. By the mid-fifteenth century, Florence was producing its own distinctive majolica, painted in a thickly applied cobalt pigment.
This early blue-and-white apothecary jar features a central fish motif against a background of stylized oak leaf motifs. The sunburst below the handle identifies it as coming from the workshop of Giunta di Tugio, a well-documented maker of majolica in Florence. Trained in his father’s workshop, he was registered in the Arte degli Oliandoli (oil merchant’s guild) by about 1400. Documents show that Giunta was paid for a number of drug pots for the pharmacy of the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in 1431. He was active in Florence between 1400 and 1450, when he died of the plague.
Unknown Private Collection, Florence;
(Luigi Grassi, London);
purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1979.