Stamped oil jar from the Lérins Abbey
16th century - ceramic
Museum of the Art and History of Provence - acquired by the Association of Museums
Earthenware jars designed to store oil first appeared in Biot in the sixteenth century. Starting in 1470, these jars were widely used in Provence, in Liguria and around the Mediterranean basin. Twelve different formats have been listed, ranging from sixty litres to one hundred and fifty litres, and sometimes up to six hundred litres.
This expansion continued until the late 19th century, when the use of jars began to decline because of a transformation in the means of production and exchange. The jars were gradually replaced with casks and tanks.
This jar was manufactured by Master Bernart Besson, pottery-maker, who was an apprentice at Biot (Alpes- Maritimes) and later moved to Moustiers (Alpes de Haute Provence), where he produced these jars using the traditional Biot method. The jar bears the stamps of its owner, the Lerins Abbey, which was located on Saint-Honorat Island in the Bay of Cannes. The stamps are dated 1561, making this a very rare manufactured example.