Inscribed with the name of John Smibert, this sheet documents the artist’s ownership of historic European drawings in colonial-era Boston, though the work was not created by him. Smibert, patronized by the Bowdoin family, played a key role in transporting European master drawings to the American colonies, originally with the intention of helping Bishop George Berkeley to set up an institution of higher learning in the New World. The design depicted here, picturing a frieze, which faces outward at the viewer, of a well-protected convoy with pack animals and livestock, was likely created by artists in the region of Nuremberg, Germany for the foot or cover of a standing cup, a luxurious drinking vessel made of silver, carved stone, or other precious materials. A richly decorated, mythological soapstone carving by Peter Flotner (1485–1546) at the Harvard Art Museums shows a circular design of similar size.
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