About This Artwork

John Hull
American, born England, 1627–1683
Robert Sanderson
American, born England, c. 1608–1693
Boston, Massachusetts

Wine Cup, c. 1660

17.2 x 9.2 x 9.4 cm (6 3/4 x 3 5/8 x 3 11/16 in.)
Inscribed: The Gift of William Needham to Brantry Church, 1688

Marked at rim: IH and RS

Restricted gift of the Antiquarian Society; Mary Swissler Oldberg Memorial Fund; restricted gifts of Samuel Mencoff and of Jamee J. and Marshall Field; Mary Swissler Oldberg Fund; restricted gifts of Marilynn Thoma, Mrs. Herbert A. Vance, Erica C. Meyer, National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Illinois, and Jan and Tom Pavlovic, 2014.995

This wine cup is among the earliest and rarest examples of colonial American silver, made in the Massachusetts Bay Colony around 1660 by John Hull and Robert Sanderson. Born in England and raised in Boston, Hull was appointed mintmaster for the Colony in 1652, partnering then with Sanderson. The cup’s restrained style and lack of ornamentation express the Puritan values of early settlers. Commissioned by William Needham, later sexton of Old South Church in Boston, the vessel was used domestically—a decidedly uncommon possession even for an established family of the time. An inscription was added to the cup when Needham donated it to Braintree Church in 1688.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, "American Church Silver," 1911, cat. 592 (ill.).

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1930.

Publication History

W.S. Pattee, "History of Old Braintree and Quincy" (1878) p. 244.

E. Alfred Jones, "The Old Silver of American Churches" (Letchworth, England: Arden Press, 1913) p. 395.

Hermann F. Clarke, "John Hull, A Builder of the Bay Colony" (Portland, Maine: Southworth-Anthoesen Press, 1940) no. 21.

Patricia E. Kane et al, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths and Jewelers (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1998) pp. 571, 885.

Annual report (Art Institute of Chicago, 2014-15) online only.

Judith A. Barter, Elizabeth McGoey, et al, "American Silver in the Art Institute of Chicago" (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016) cat. 1 (ill.).

Ownership History

William Needham, c. 1660; First Congregational Society Church, Quincy (formerly Braintree), Massachusetts, 1688 -2001; private collection, 2001-2014; sold to the Art Institute, 2014.

Interpretive Resources

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