Soapstone pipe bowl
From the southern Great Lakes, North
Mid-18th century AD
This pipe-bowl, and the stem which is now missing, were depicted in two paintings by Benjamin West (1738-1820), the American court artist to George III (reigned 1760-1820).
West introduced the idea of history painting to England. Images of North America are prominent among his works from the 1760s and 1770s. Some of the artefacts that he used as studio props have survived. This pipe provides the facial decoration and metal ear ornament for the squatting Indian in The Death of General Wolfe (1770, National Gallery of Canada) which commemorates the capture of Québec in 1759. The pipe also features in William Penn's Treaty with the Indians (1771, Philadelphia), which was intended to promote the Penn family's relations with Indians, and their expansion into what is now western Pennsylvania.
J.C.H. King, First peoples, first contacts: (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)