(active 1489-1502 in Valle d'Aosta)

Apothecary's shop (detail)

Castello Challant, Issogne (Valle d'Aosta)

In the foreground, on a low stool, a wild-looking man in ragged clothes and only one shoe riddled with holes sits grinding something in a giant mortar with an equally oversized pestle. This figure, known in Italy by the name pestapepe (peppergrinder), belonged to a widespread repertoire of types which appears in several other Italian paintings in the fifteenth century. The figure also represents an unpleasant task, one that was considered lowly because of the strong odour of some of the medicines.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.