Drug jar (albarello) with representation of St. Anthony the Hermit
Italian, Drug jar (albarello) with representation of St. Anthony the Hermit, ca.1550, Lead-glazed earthenware; 24.1 x 13 cm (9 1/2 x 5 1/8 inches), Bequest of Susan Martin Allien 35.713
Cylindrical apothecary jars (albarelli) were used to store drugs or herbs, and were designed so that their rims could be covered with parchment or leather and banded with cord to keep their contents dry. This jar depicts Saint Anthony the Hermit holding a flame that represents ergotism, also known as “Saint Anthony’s Fire,” a skin disease caused by contaminated grain. The painful ailment was treated by a community of monks whose church held relics of Saint Anthony.