‘An Italian Maiolica Armorial Albarello’, ca. 1560, Christie's Old Masters


The albarello is perhaps labeled for Byzantine Syrup (Syropo Bisantino in Italian, Syropus de Byzantiis in Latin), a syrup used in the treatment of liver disorders and made of burgloss, endive, smallage, hops and sugar (R.E.A. Drey, Apothecary Jars, London, 1978, p. 190).

The arms are almost certainly those of the Della Torre family of Ravenna and the Torelli family of Forli. See M. Mancini Della Chiara and L. Fontebuoni, Maioliche del Museo Civico di Pesaro, Bologna, 1979, nos. 181, 204 and 238 for three examples with closely similar decoration perhaps from the same pharmacy, the last dated 1563; also the example in the Bayer Collection signed by Ludovico Picchi and published in I Vasi de Farmacia nella coll Bayer, 1997, no. 19. See also J. Giacomotti, Catalogue des majoliques des musées nationaux, Paris, 1974, pp. 240-241, no. 793 for an earlier albarello in the Louvre (inv. OA 1893) with the same previously unidentified arms, and p. 240, no. 792 for another very similarly decorated documentary example, also in the Louvre (inv. OA 1892), inscribed in Castello durante 1541.

Signature: Of waisted form, labeled for SY.DE.BISANCV.A. on a rectangular label beneath a continuous mountainous river landscape with four figures and a dragon, the reverse with a coat-of-arms within an ochre escutcheon supported by winged putti with a lion mask and foliage below between bands of winged masks, trophies and dragons

Leiden, The Netherlands, Boerhaave Museum (Netherlands National Museum for the History of Science and Medicine), 1946-2010.


Fritz B. Gutmann Collection, Heemstede, The Netherlands, acquired in Amsterdam circa 1920.

Involuntary sale to the Munich dealer Julius Böhler, 11 February 1942.

Returned to the Netherlands, 1946 - the underside with paper inventory labels for the Netherlands Art Collection (Nederlands Kunstbezit-Collectie), no. NK605 and the Directory Of History Netherlands (Repertorium Geschiedenis Nederland), no. RGN Ph. 110.

Restituted to the Gutmann family, 2010.