About This Artwork

Benjamin Burt
American, 1729-1805
Boston, Massachusetts

Communion Dish, 1781

3.2 x 32.4 x 32.4 cm (1 1/4 x 12 3/4 x 12 3/4 in.); 780.6 grams
Marked on bottom: "B.BURT" (in rectangle); engraved around rim of dish: a cherub's head and the words "The Legacy of the Honble ISAAC ROYALL ESQ. to the CHURCH OF CHRIST in Medford 1781."

Restricted gift of the Antiquarian Society, 1989.65

Because silver was associated with purity and durability, it was the most popular material used to fashion objects for administering the Sacrament. Matching sets were rare, and church silver was usually acquired piecemeal over a period of decades. By the end of the 18th century, the First Church of Medford, Massachusetts, had 20 pieces of communion silver, all given by different donors and fashioned by different makers.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, American Church Silver of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries with a Few Pieces of Domestic Plate, July–December 1911, cat. 109.

Art Institute of Chicago, Spiritual Expressions: Art for Private Contemplation and Public Celebration, November 22, 1995–March 17, 1996, brochure only (ill.).

Publication History

E. Alfred Jones, The Old Silver of American Churches (Letchworth, England, Arden Press: 1913), p. 275, pl. 89.

Gladys N. Hoover, The Elegant Royalls of Colonial New England (Vantage, 1974), p. 101.

Patricia E. Kane et al, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths and Jewelers (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1998) p. 228.

Judith A. Barter et al, American Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago: From Colonial Times to World War I (Art Institute of Chicago, 1998), pp. 75-76, no. 19.

Judith A. Barter, Elizabeth McGoey, et al, "American Silver in the Art Institute of Chicago" (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016) cat. 35 (ill.).

Ownership History

Commissioned by the First Church of Christ, Medford, Mass. from a bequest of Isaac Royall, Medford, Massachusetts,1781. Firestone and Parson, Boston, by 1987; Marshall Field, Chicago, 1988; sold to The Art Institute of Chicago, 1989.

Interpretive Resources

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