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(Britain, London, 1745–84)
Overall: 24.6 x 18.9 x 16.9 cm (9 11/16 x 7 7/16 x 6 5/8 in.)
Bequest of Mary Warden Harkness 1917.601.1
Figural representations of the four continents date back to the 1500s, but such imagery became even more popular in the 1700s as European empires expanded.
Often collected by wealthy British merchants who were beneficiaries of colonial expansion, figural groups were frequently part of elaborate table decorations meant to signify wealth and global dominance. Here, Europe is seen holding an orb and wearing a crown as queen of the world, suggesting Europe’s supremacy over the other continents. She is entangled with America, who is wearing feathers with a bow and arrow at her feet. This depiction of America reveals a purely imagined understanding of faraway places.
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