The J. Paul Getty Museum

Relief-Blue Jar with Harpies and Birds

Object Details


Relief-Blue Jar with Harpies and Birds


Probably the Workshop of Piero di Mazzeo (Italian, born 1377/1387)




Florence or possibly Siena, Tuscany, Italy (Place Created)


about 1420–1440


Tin-glazed earthenware

Object Number:



31.1 × 14.3 × 29.8 cm (12 1/4 × 5 5/8 × 11 3/4 in.)

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Object Description

This large, two-handled drug jar has an exceptionally rare shape and bold design. It was produced for the pharmacy of the Sienese hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, whose emblem-a three-runged ladder (scala a pioli) surmounted by a cross-appears on both sides. This emblem refers to the hospital's location in front of the steps (scale) of the city's cathedral. The emblem is framed on one side by two birds, possibly peacocks, and on the other by two human-faced birds, or harpies, who were monsters believed to torment misers in the fifteenth century. The surface is also decorated with stylized leaves and dots, which resemble oak leaves and berries.
The decoration is painted in a very thick, cobalt-blue impasto, often called relief blue because it was applied so thickly that it seems to stand out from the vessel's surface. The leafy shapes are outlined in, and scattered with, touches of manganese purple. Under each handle is a letter P, possibly intertwined with a backward C, which may be the mark of the Florentine workshop of Piero di Mazeo.


Wilhelm von Bode, 1845 - 1929 (Berlin, Germany), sold to Kurt Glogowski.

- 1932

Kurt Glogowski (Berlin, Germany) [sold, Sotheby's, London, June 8, 1932, lot 58, to August Lederer.]

1932 - 1936

August Lederer, 1857 - 1936 (Vienna, Austria), by inheritance to his widow, Serena Lederer, 1936.

1936 - until at least November 26, 1938

Serena Lederer, 1867 - 1943 (Bartensteingasse 8, Vienna I, Austria), confiscated by the Gestapo (at the direction of the Zentralstelle für Denkmalscuhtz), per the order of the Wiener Magistrat, Magistratsabteilung 2, dated November 26, 1938.
Source: Archive of the Bundesdenkmalamt (BDA) – Archive, Box 9, Lederer 1940-1946, No. 1, p. 6, no. 182.

after November 26, 1938 - 1945

In the possession of the Nazis, valued at 3,000 Reichsmarks and stored, by autumn 1939, at the Zentraldepot at Neue Burg, Vienna; moved to "R.B. Depot," meaning the Reichsbank (the Austrian National Bank), (Vienna I, Austria), March 30, 1942; evacuated to the salt mines at "Aussee" (Altausee, Austria), October 7, 1943; recovered by the US Forces (80th Infantry Division, Task Force Pearson), May 8, 1945.
Source: Index card of the Nazi administration/Zentralstelle für Denkmalschutz, Lederer, Serena, number 182: "Grosser Albarello mit Blaumalerei und Wappen des Spitals delle Scala. Ca. 31 cm hoch." BDA-Archive, Restitutionsmaterialien, Karton 6/1, Mappe 58, fol.11.

1945 - 1947

In custody of the Allied Forces, (salt mines at Altaussee, Austria), released to the Republic of Austria by December 1, 1947.

1947-probably 1948

Austrian government, restituted to the son of Serena Lederer, Erich Lederer.

1947/1948 - 1985

Erich Lederer, 1896 - 1985 (Geneva, Switzerland), by inheritance to his widow, Elisabeth Lederer, 1985.


Mrs. Elisabeth Lederer (Geneva, Switzerland), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1985.

The Arts of Fire: Islamic Influences on the Italian Renaissance (May 4 to September 5, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 4 to September 4, 2004