Small Talk / Miniature

Allegory of a Lullaby: The Dreamy Details

Johannes landman

Johannes Landman’s miniature Dutch cradle is entitled Allegory of a Lullaby. What exactly is an allegory? We’re glad you asked! In visual art, an allegory uses figures or characters as symbols to illustrate an overall theme, value, or moral. The allegory of Landman’s cradle illustrates themes of childhood.

All four painted panels feature cherubs in a variety of actions: happily dancing, sheltering an infant, and even recoiling in loneliness. The cradle’s headboard panel depicts a muse playing a lullaby that “rocks” the cradle.

Landman is not only a master of painting, but also of miniature woodworking. For this work, he used dogwood from his home province, British Columbia, and added 22 karat gold accents.

Allegory of a Lullaby: The Inspiration

Johannes Landman

Many of the artists represented in T/m’s fine-scale miniature collection draw inspiration from history, architecture, and the natural world. However, Johannes Landman also turned to his own personal history as inspiration for this beautiful cradle, titled Allegory of a Lullaby.

Formally, the cradle is based on a traditional Dutch cradle with four panels and delicately carved scrollwork details. Like much of his work, Landman emulated the style of the Dutch Old Masters for the allegorical scenes on each side of the cradle. Informally, the most touching source of inspiration for this work can be noted by the fact that he often calls this work “Christina’s Cradle,” in reference to his mother, who died when he was an infant. The work, which took over 1,100 hours to plan and create, is a tribute to every child who has lost a mother.

American Folk Art in Furniture

Folk art furniture

If you’ve been following our blog for a while now, you know that fine-scale miniature artists Jim Ison and Therese Bahl didn’t stop once the bones of the room were finished. They had to furnish it! For “A Tribute to the Classic Period of American Folk Art,” Ison and Bahl made sure they had plenty of seating. Ison created two spindle back chairs with tan leather seats, a Windsor chair painted green, and a Martha Washington chair based on a circa 1800 model upholstered in flowered print. Bahl made a black Hitchcock chair based on a circa 1830s Connecticut model with painted gold designs, and a pink sidechair with painted fruit, flowers, and accents.

With plenty of places to sit, Bahl added a wood swing table with a rural house scene and a black metal deed box with painted embellishments. Ison contributed a mahogany writing desk with six drawers and accessories, an octagonal-topped mahogany tilt top table based on a circa 1800 model with spade feet, and a clock for the mantle with a painted landscape and gold finials. Together, they created a yellow Boston rocker with an ocean scene and a decoratively painted side table. While this may be just another project in the life of a fine-scale miniature artist, we, for one, are exhausted!

American Folk Art Murals in Miniature

folk art mural wallpaper

It is believed that the home’s namesake, Ezra Carroll, commissioned the artfully adorned walls in the Ezra Carroll House. Located on a busy east-west thoroughfare near the store he owned, Carroll occupied the home from 1815 until his death in 1844. During this time, he hired itinerant painter William Price to paint the walls of his home.

While all the rage in England and France, scenic wallpaper was expensive to import and difficult to get your hands on. Ever resourceful, Americans folk artists in New York and New England found a DIY solution worthy of a 21st-century pin: hand-painting oil landscapes directly onto dry plaster.

While we know very little about Price, we do know he is the murals’ artist thanks to his signing and dating the work. Some scholars think he may be the same William H. Price that is listed as living in New York City in 1844, and that he may have been a veteran of the War of 1812 because of his depiction of Commander Perry’s victory at the Battle of Lake Erie in one of the murals. Scholars assume that he took inspiration from local and exotic scenic views in order to duplicate the French’s elaborate wallpapers.

American Folk Art in Miniature

american folk art

A visit to the fine-scale miniature galleries at The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures is a trip around the world and through time. Today, our trip takes us to 1830s central New York. Therese Bahl and Jim Ison’s “A Tribute to the Classic Period of American Folk Art” is based on the parlor and hall of the Ezra Carroll House. Formerly in East Springfield, New York, the home was demolished in 1957, but not before the murals were salvaged and preserved at the Winterthur Museum and The Farmers’ Museum (a sigh of relief!). The murals are their own story; we’ll cover them in an upcoming post!

In addition to making miniatures, Bahl teaches early American decorative art and is a professed admirer of American folk artists Peter Ompir and Rufus Porter. Ison specializes in Shaker and Windsor furniture dating from 1650 to 1850. Their 1989 partnership was picture perfect, producing this parlor with a fireplace and two windows alongside an entryway with a staircase and two doors.

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