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Apothecary Mortar


French or Flemish
Cast bronze
Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Mortars were essential to every household. They were used for grinding everything from condiments to medicinals to paint pigments. They could be made from a variety of materials but bronze mortars were particularly popular. Occasionally decorations demonstrated the Renaissance interest in merging Christianity with the Pagan past. In this example, female Terms (a classical architectural device) alternate with classical busts and a relief of the Virgin and Child.