4.75 x 5.5 in
12.07 x 13.97 cm
Gift of Mrs. E. A. Rennolds in Memory of Mr. and Mrs. John Kerr Branch
Not on view
The elongated bell shape of this mortar was inspired by the elegance of the classical past. The mortar is decorated on each side with a foliate swag articulated on both ends by two rosettes. The decoration on such objects could suggest their specific function or simply repeat a popular decorative arts motif of the period. In the later Middle Ages and early Renaissance, mortars and pestles were important grinding tools used mainly by apothecaries, artists and craftsmen, and alchemists. By the 16th century, mortars were common in middle- and upper-class households, employed for grinding ingredients in cooking, medicine, and cosmetics. The shape of this example is typical of Northern Italian mortars of the 16th century.