Late 19th-century French olive jar w/ pale yellow glaze 24¾"

SKU: 18539

US$2,456

A fabulously bulbous olive jar from the Mediterranean dating from the late nineteenth / early twentieth century. Nicely timeworn with some pale yellow glaze remaining around the rim.


Biot jars and oil jars, originating from the Mediterranean, served multiple purposes such as storing liquids, preserving perishables, transporting goods by sea, and holding agricultural products. Made to be resistant and airtight, they were designed to protect their contents from pests and were typically sealed with wooden or terracotta lids. Some featured engraved markings or special designs for easier handling, though such innovations were not widely adopted. The village of Biot, located in an area with rich clay soils and abundant resources, became a prominent center for pottery due to the settlement of potter families around 1470.


By the 16th century, Biot potters were already exporting their wares. In 1725, following severe famines and harsh weather, Biot's villagers massively scaled up their pottery production, making large jars and pots in significant numbers; by the peak of this industry, 35 factories produced up to 588,000 jars annually. These jars were essential in storing and preserving various goods and were sold across Provence and beyond, reaching markets as far as the Americas and French colonies.


However, the late 19th century brought a decline in this traditional industry due to advances in manufacturing materials like metal and plastic, as well as improved transportation methods. By 1910, only a few potteries remained. Post-World War I, there was a shift towards making decorative garden vases, and after 1945, Biot saw a revival in its pottery craft, transitioning from utilitarian to decorative objects, supported by skilled artisans and renowned artists, leading to a resurgence in its popularity and innovative designs.

See photos of Biot jars being loaded at the Port of Antibes from Amoric, Henri, Biot Jarres, terrailles et fontaines, XVIeme-XXeme siecles, 2006.

Condition and wear consistent with age and use.
Approx. overall 24¾" high x 19¼" diameter externally, 8¾" diameter internally
Approx. overall 63cm high x 49cm diameter externally, 22cm diameter internally

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All items are sent via air express with tracking information. Goods typically arrive at your delivery address within ten days.

To ensure safe delivery, small items are professionally packaged in industrial grade cartons with molded padding and cushioning. Large items are packaged in custom built timber cases with internal support and protection.

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