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Mortar - Mortar with IHS symbol

Mortar with IHS symbol

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (central, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1460-1500 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W.L Hildburgh, F.S.A.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This bell metal mortar bears the IHS symbol associated with S.Bernardino of Siena, a Franciscan friar renowned for his preaching. In his youth he assisted in helping the victims of an outbreak of plague in Siena suggesting that his association with a mortar used for preparing medicines is appropriate. However mortars were also used to grind incense so this object could also have had a sacred function.

Physical description

Bell-metal. Conical mortar with spreading rim, recessed inside and small, reeded, semi-circular handle. The rim encircled by a cable pattern. On the body, six pilasters decorated with candelabra or stylized vases and flowers, the panels designed to fit the body between the rim and an astragal delineating the foot; opposite the handle, the sacred monogram of Christ, IHS, encircled with flames. Slightly concave foot with scotia at the bottom.

Place of Origin

Italy (central, made)


ca. 1460-1500 (made)



Materials and Techniques



Height: 10.5 cm, Diameter: 14 cm, Width: 14.5 cm

Object history note

Given by Dr W.L Hildburgh, F.S.A.

Descriptive line

Embossed with ihs and strips of foliage; Bronze Italian 15c

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

Motture, Peta. Bells & Mortars. Catalogue of Italian Bronzes in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: 2001, pp.69-70, cat. no. 2.


Bell metal



Subjects depicted

Vases; Flowers; Candelabra


Sculpture Collection

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