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Mortar - Mortar


  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The handles of this bronze mortar are in the form of mermaids. Acquired as italian, sixteenth century, the mortar bears a coat of arms possibly identifiable as those of the Milani of Rovigo, in north east Italy. The decoration related directly top that on the 'Annoni-Visconti' marriage bowl in the Ashmolean Museum, datable to about 1570-80.

Physical description

Bronze mortar with projecting, moulded rim and recessed lip with two handles in the form of nude female mermaids with scroll arms and bifurcate tail. The body is decorated with two identical coats of arms, possibly identified as those of the Milani of Rovigo, N.E Italy, in cartouches, the sides of which are formed by profile female figures similar to the handles and surmounted by a lion mask; the cartouches are flanked by foliate decoration with rosettes in the upper spaces.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)


16th century (made)



Materials and Techniques



Height: 7.62 in, Diameter: 9.75 in

Object history note

Bought 335-1889 to 354-1889 for £300

Descriptive line

Mortar, bronze, mermaids

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

List of Objects in the Art Division South Kensington Museum acquired during the Year 1889. Arranged according to the dates of acquisition, with appendix and indices. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1890. pp. 35
Motture, Peta. Bells & Mortars. Catalogue of the Italian Bronzes in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2001. pp. 178. cat. no. 58



Subjects depicted

Flowers; Shield; Nereids


Sculpture Collection

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