Pair of andirons

about 1700
Unknown African-American

Object Place: Saunderstown, Rhode Island


41.59 x 17.78 x 44.45 cm (16 3/8 x 7 x 17 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wrought iron

On View

Brown-Pearl Hall (Gallery LG35)





Slavery is usually associated with the southern colonies, but early New England had many slaves as well. These andirons descended in the family of Rowland Robinson, who owned a plantation in Saunderstown, Rhode Island, on Narragansett Bay. According to family tradition, these andirons were made by a slave who had been trained as a blacksmith. Both functional and sculptural, the andirons represent the vast body of American art made by slaves, whose names and histories are not well documented.


Descended in the family of Rowland Robinson (died 1713), a plantation owner of Sanderstown, Rhode Island; according to family tradition, made by a Robinson family slave; 1979, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Rodman Robinson III to the MFA.

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Rodman Robinson III