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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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, sold to Kurt Glogowski.

- 1932

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

1932 - 1936

August Lederer, 1857 - 1936, by inheritance to his widow, Serena Lederer, 1936.

1936 - until at least November 26, 1938

Serena Lederer, 1867 - 1943, 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, by inheritance to his widow, Elisabeth Lederer, 1985.


Mrs. Elisabeth Lederer, 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

Bode, Wilhelm von. "Altflorentiner Majoliken." Jahrbuch der königlich preuzsischen Kunstsammlungen 19 (1898), p. 206.

Ausstellung von Kunstwerken des Mittelalters un der Renaissance aus erliner Privatbesitz. Exh. cat., Kunstgeschichtliche Gesellschaft, May 20-July 3, 1898 (Berlin: 1899), pl. 48, fig. 2.

Wallis, Henry. Oak-leaf Jars: A Fifteenth-Century Italian Ware Showing Moresco Influence (London, 1903), p. 9, fig. 7.

Bode, Wilhelm von. Die Anfänge der Majolikakunst in Toskana (1911, Berlin), pl. 14.

Chompret, Joseph. Répertoire de la majolique italienne, 2 vols. (1949, Paris), p. 2, fig. 648.

Conti, Giovanni. "Appunti sulla fortuna dell'antica maiolica italiana." Antichità Viva 8, no. 5 (1969), p. 47, fig. 11.

Conti, Giovanni. "Per un mito del vasaio: Appunti sulla natura alchemica." Gazzetta Antiquaria 9, no. 1 (January-February 1971), p. 22.

Cora, Galeazzo. Storia della maiolica di Firenze e del contado; Secoli XIV e XV, 2 vols. (1973, Florence), Vol 1, p. 76; 2 pls. 61-62, 63c.

Conti, Giovanni. L'arte della maiolica in Italia, 2d ed. (Milan: 1980), pls. 45-46.

Valeri, Anna Moore. "Florentine 'Zaffera a Rilirvo' Maiolica: A New Look at the 'Oriental Influence.'" Archeologia medievale II (1984), fig. 4B.

"Acquisitions/1985." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 14 (1986), p. 251, no. 211, ill.

Hess, Catherine. Italian Maiolica: Catalogue of the Collections (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1988), pp. 23-25, no. 5.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991), p. 200.

Conti, Giovanni, et al. Zaffera et similia nella maiolica italiana. Exh. cat. (Viterbo, 1991), pp. 17, 265, fig. 3, no. 151.

Wilson, Gillian, and Catherine Hess. Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), pp. 174-75, no. 343.

Hess, Catherine. Italian Ceramics: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002), pp. 36-41, no. 4.

Lillie, Sophie. Was Einmal War. Handbuch der enteigneten Kunstsammlungen Wiens (Vienna: Czernin Verlag, 2003), p. 670, listed as 182 in the abstract of "Kunstgegenstände aus der Sammlung Serena Lederer, Wien 1, Bartensteingasse 8. Gutachten von Dr. Hans Herbst, Chefexperte der Kunstabteilung des Dorotheums und gerichtlich beeideter Sachverständiger für den Kunsthandel, Wien VIII., Lange Gasse 29 / I. Datiert Wien, 20. November 1940.".

Hess, Catherine, ed. The Arts of Fire: Islamic Influences on Glass and Ceramics of the Italian Renaissance, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2004), pp. 136-37, pl. 31.