Small Talk / Miniature

Miniature Masterworks

Miniature Masterworks

T/m, in partnership with the International Guild of Miniature Artisans (IGMA), is proud to present Miniature Masterworks, the first-ever juried showcase and sale of fine-scale miniature work. The show, a first for T/m, will be held September 15-17, 2017. Over 60 international artists have been selected to participate in the show and submit a work for the Barbara Marshall Award for Artistic Achievement. Named for the founder of T/m’s fine-scale miniature collection, the award will honor miniature artists exceeding the current standards of fine-scale miniature making.

T/m is home to the world’s largest collection of fine-scale miniatures. Show attendees will be able to tour the collection, meet the artists, attend gallery talks, and view the works submitted for the Barbara Marshall Award for Artistic Achievement.

We’ll be featuring all the artists between now and September, so check back each week to about them and their amazing work.

Through the Looking Glass

Rococo Mirror

With its gilded C-shaped curves intertwined with floral vines, this miniature mirror is unmistakably Rococo style. Popular in Europe in the eighteenth century, Rococo style came to America via imported furniture, immigrant craftsmen, and pattern books. The full-scale inspiration for this work came from a Rococo mirror in the collection of the Winterthur Museum, attributed to Philadelphia furniture maker James Reynolds.

In creating the tiny looking glass, artist William R. Robertson researched the original mirror to determine scaled measurements. Using precision tools, he then carved the mirror’s frame in wood. Lastly, the frame was coated in gold leaf and fitted with a small mirror. The result is a Rococo miniature masterpiece worthy of taking a selfie in!

To Build a Better Mousetrap

Mousetrap

One of the earlier works of miniature artist William R. Robertson in T/m’s collection is his simple and beautiful Hepplewhite Mousetrap, created in 1979. Fashioned after a Georgian-era design, the work is comprised of wood and brass. Although it is on display in a separate case in our miniature gallery, it would fit right in to Robertson’s stately miniature Twin Manors.

The mousetrap is slightly smaller than an inch long and consists of 77 individual pieces. Of course, like many of Robertson’s other works, the mousetrap is fully functional. If an extra-tiny mouse (or maybe a small cricket!) were to crawl inside, the arm would unlatch to lower the front gate, trapping an unlucky critter. Since time began, inventers have always sought a way to “invent a better mousetrap.” We think this one really takes the cake, or the cheese as it were.

Inside a Cabinet of Curiosity

Cabinet of Curiosity

Pierre Mourey’s 1:12 scale Antwerp Cabinet is as beautifully decorated on the inside as on the outside. Its two exterior doors unlock to reveal fourteen dovetail-jointed drawers with brass pulls. The front of each of the drawers contains a miniature pastoral scene. The hinged top of the cabinet reveals a secret compartment with two more painted scenes and the letter “M” for Mourey.

Although they came in many different forms, full-scale curiosity cabinets were meant to store objects of fascination and entertainment such as coral, antique coins, and rare gems. Cabinets like these are considered the forerunners of modern museums. The miniature Antwerp Cabinet is on display in the museum’s Masterpiece Gallery, which is kind of like our own cabinet of curiosity.

A Cabinet of Curiosity

Antwerp Cabinet

The bold and ornate details on the outside of the 1:12 scale Antwerp cabinet really make a statement. Created by artist Pierre Mourey in 1999, the leggy cabinet was inspired by 17th-century Dutch cabinets of curiosities. Traditionally, these cabinets were adorned with exotic materials like tortoise shell, ebony, and mother of pearl.

Mourey, however, had to figure out a way to emulate in miniature not only the style of the cabinet, but also the fine embellishments. Reverse-painted red acetate (the kind of material eyeglass frames are made of) was used to resemble tortoise shell. Although it’s made of walnut, the cabinet has been ebonized, or treated with a special chemical mixture to give it the look of dark ebony wood. Stay tuned; we’ll reveal the cabinet’s equally stunning interior soon!

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