The visual force of a small object, 12.3 centimeters in height, magnetically attracted both experienced and novice viewers entering this exhibition. Around 1700 a jeweler, perhaps from Frankfurt, exploited the lumps and bumps of irregularly shaped pearls to conjure a camel and then added two figures of so-called blackamoors, both wearing old-fashioned breeches rendered in silver, one man poised atop the camel, the other framed by its legs. On the base below, a scene painted in enamels depicts a seated female blackamoor proffering strings of perfect pearls, her colorful feather headdress standing in contrast to the green palm fronds behind her. To the left and right, opened chests reveal, among other treasures, blue-and-white painted porcelain, metalwork chargers and vases, and an abundance of jewels. A tall-masted ship, that quintessential vessel and vector for material and cultural exchanges, sails away from the...

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