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Punch Bowl

Decorative Arts

On View: American Identities: A New Look, American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, Nations Divided, 1860–1910, 5th Floor
This bowl is rare for its extraordinary size and its political inscription. Celebrating the launching of a new ship, the inscription around the top reads “Success to the Trade and Navigation in All Free States— North [Hudson] River,” with “August 17, 1792—Albany Packet TWO BROTHERS” below. However, the inscription at the bottom reads “Freedom to the Slave G. W.” This abolitionist sentiment reflects a late eighteenth-century plan to gradually emancipate all enslaved African people. “G. W.” may refer to George Washington, who was sympathetic to this plan, although he remained a slave owner until he died in 1799. His will freed the enslaved people he owned in his household.
ATTRIBUTED TO Cornelius Paulus
MEDIUM Earthenware
  • Place Made: United States
  • DATES 1792
    DIMENSIONS 7 1/8 x 16 1/2 x 16 1/2 in. (18.1 x 41.9 x 41.9 cm)  (show scale)
    INSCRIPTIONS Incised on outer band of yellow slip: "Success to Trade and Navigation in All Free States--North River" and the initials "C.P."; incised on inner band of yellow slip: "August 17, 1792--Albany Packet Two Brothers"; inscribed in central medallion "Freedom / to the Slave / G.W."
    COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
    ACCESSION NUMBER 48.143
    CREDIT LINE Dick S. Ramsay Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Punch Bowl, 1792. Earthenware, 7 1/8 x 16 1/2 x 16 1/2 in. (18.1 x 41.9 x 41.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 48.143. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE x-ray, detail, CONS.48.143_1978_xrs_detail02.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 1978
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Punch bowl, "Two Brothers," slip-decorated red earthenware, interior decorated with two bands and a central medallion of yellow slip on which inscriptions are incised followed by an outline sketch of a sailboat and the initials "C.P." The central medallion is also inscribed. Condition: Slip worn and chipped.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (92%)
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