Thumbnail-size images of copyrighted artworks are displayed under fair use, in accordance with guidelines recommended by the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts, published by the College Art Association in February 2015.

Pearl Corn Cob

John Hatleberg (American, born 1957)

Object Place: New York, New York, United States


Height x width x depth: 43 x 14 x 7 cm (16 15/16 x 5 1/2 x 2 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Gold (24 kt and 18 kt), Chinese fresh-water pearl, and corn husk

Not On View


Americas, Contemporary Art



This three-dimensional representation of a corn cob is based on the Inca’s “Garden of Noble Metals.” The artist was inspired by a historic Inca account that notes that in Inca cities, “Near all the royal buildings, there were gardens and orchards so that the Inca could have places to rest. Here there were the loveliest trees and the most splendid flowers and fragrant herbs of the kingdom, while countless others were replicas in gold and silver. They showed all stages of growth from the shoot that barely rises above the earth’s surface, to the full-grown plant. They made exact copies of cornfields with their leaves, cobs, stalks, roots and blossoms. The beard of the cob was gold, and everything else was silver, with the parts melted together. They did the same thing with other plants: the blossoms or any other part that was yellow, they made in gold, and everything else, silver.”




2009, created by artist John Hatleberg of New York City; gift of Hatleberg to the MFA (Accession date: November 18, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of John Hatleberg