Two-Handled "Oak-Leaf" Drug Jar
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Italian, Florence, about 1431
Tin-glazed earthenware
H: 9 7/8 x Diam. [lip]: 4 15/16 x W: 9 5/8 in.

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The body of this two-handled drug jar is decorated on each side with a running boar and branches of leaves in relief blue impasto. A crutch, emblem of the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital in Florence, is painted on each of the handles indicating it belonged to that hospital.

In the early Middle Ages hospitals were simple hospices set up outside cities to offer food and lodging to pilgrims and travelers. The Santa Maria Nuova hospital, the largest in Florence by the mid-fourteenth century, was the first hospital in that city to be dedicated primarily to caring for the sick. From documents such as the hospital's account books, we know that Santa Maria Nuova supplied medical care to a wide cross section of Florence's population.