There have been many outstanding shows this year. Miniaturists in all categories are continuing to raise the bar and it was particularly evident at the much anticipated Miniature Masterworks event last month. It was a juried show, the first of its kind here in the U.S., held at the National Toy and Miniatures Museum in Kansas City in association with IGMA. All who submitted works were challenged beyond their imaginable limits and the results were absolutely breathtaking. Every submission was a winner in my eyes. Here are just a few pieces from the show that made their way back with me to their new home in the KSB Miniatures Collection.
Harpsichord by David Iriarte: This is my first piece by David Iriarte and I’m honored to be able to display it in the collection. The Spanish miniaturist crafted this working instrument after the 1652 original by Ioannes Couchet of Antwerp, acquired by France in 1701. A music box on the underside of the instrument plays 24 different harpsichord pieces—the same songs that were once recorded on the original. Not only does it play music, but the keys move up and down like a player piano. David went to great strides to achieve authenticity and it is intricately finished with beautiful hand painting and gold leafing. See it playing here.
Sewing etui by Jens Torp: Master silversmith Jens Torp outdid himself with this 18th century working sewing etui made from 18kt gold, platinum, sterling silver and ivory. It is extraordinarily detailed and includes moving scissors, a thimble, needle holder and anything else a seamstress would require. The lid is graced with a beautifully carved shell in Mother of Pearl. Jens worked as a jewelry designer before beginning his career in miniatures in 1990 and his design talents turn any utilitarian pieces he makes into precious works of art.
Louis XV style microscope by Wm. R. Robertson: Vintage Bill Robertson at its best. This highly publicized piece was made by Bill decades ago and just went up for sale at the show. Bill reproduced this in 1/12 scale after studying the 1760 original by Claude-Simeon Passement that was made for King Louis XV, now displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Made of 24K gold, nickel silver, wood, glass and shagreen (sharkskin) the working microscope features a functioning three-element lens and coarse and fine focus adjustments. There are 125 parts in the microscope which stands two inches tall. To match the features of the original microscope, he used baby sharkskin and melted Canadian gold coins to add to the frame. Also authentic is how Bill finished the miniature. When studying the original, he read that the microscope should be polished with the tooth of a wolf. Bill used a puppy tooth.
Armada Portrait Elizabeth the 1st by Phyllis Hawkes: Phyllis Hawkes’ 1/12-scale reproduction of one of the most iconic paintings in British history is simply stunning. The 1588 original of unknown origin, but often attributed to George Gower, depicts Elizabeth I after the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The portrait, which has inspired the film guises of Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench is especially timely as just last year the Brits raised $16 million dollars to buy the artwork from descendants of Sir Francis Drake. Coincidentally, it debuts today in its fully restored glory at its new residence in the national collection of Royal Museums Greenwich.
French-knotted bed rug by Pat Hartman: This gorgeous bed rug, a bed covering that has been totally French knotted, was based on an 1802 work in the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut. It measures 8 x 8 inches and took Pat four months of continuous work. I was drawn to the exceptional needlework and the warm rust tones of the piece which will be displayed in an upcoming exhibit called Folly Cove, depicting a New England-style house by Pam Throop. Bed by Robert Hurd of RLH Miniatures.
There were other pieces that I do not have photographs of yet that will be incredible additions to the collection. A beautiful marquetry cabinet by Chris Malcomson shown here, a fabulous replica of a Henry O. Studley workbench complete with tools and fully functional front and side vises by talented Russian miniaturist Victoria Morozova seen here, and some amazing arts and crafts style plates and a bowl from Lee-Ann Chellis Wessel for debut inside The Whittier in 2019. I have also commissioned Althea Crome to make a reproduction of her sweater based on a triptych of The Nativity, after Gerard David’s Nativity with Donors and Saints Jerome and Leonard, which won third in show.
Look for upcoming posts on social media to see these and other newly acquired items. Congratulations to all the miniaturists who participated in this year’s shows. Your work and dedication to detail and authenticity is recognized and applauded. I’m proud to feature your art.