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Mortar - Mortar


  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    1450-1500 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This conical early Renaissance mortar is decorated with three pairs of cavorting winged putti supporting a blank shield between five projecting, tapered ribs which terminate in a trefoil.

Mortars played an integral part in everyday life. Wherever there was a need to grind a substance, there would be a mortar and pestle. The most obvious application is in the context of medicine and pharmacy, but they were also essential pieces of equipment in the household, where they were used not only to prepare food, but also simple medicines and cosmetics. Similarly they would be found in the studios of artists and craftsmen, as well as the laboratories of alchemists.

Physical description

Conical mortar with corded handle and a plain iron ring. Moulded projecting rim with shallow recess. On the body three pairs of cavorting winged putti supporting a blank testa di cavello shield, between five projecting, tapering ribs, which terminate in a trefoil. Moulded foot.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)


1450-1500 (made)



Materials and Techniques



Height: 12 cm, Diameter: 15.8 cm

Object history note

Bought from Michelangelo Guggenheim, Venice, in 1889 (with 335 to 354-1889) for £300.

Descriptive line

Mortar with ribs and shield supported by putti

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. 36
Motture, Peta. Bells and Mortars. Catalogue of the Italian Bronzes in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2001. pp. 198-9, cat. no. 70



Subjects depicted

Putti; Shield


Sculpture Collection

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