Tiny Treasures

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 Intricate and appealing, curious and uncanny, miniature works of art exert surprising power. Over thousands of years and across cultures, artists and artisans have created small objects for many purposes: tiny gold amulets of ancient Egyptian gods to protect the wearer, portable European medieval shrines made of precious materials to hold the relics of saints, English and American miniature painted portraits to keep loved ones close, Dutch dollhouse furnishings to display the maker’s skill and the owner’s social standing, pocket-sized tools and globes from the age of exploration, Japanese netsuke carved in the shape of auspicious animals, and everyday objects transformed into statement jewelry by contemporary makers.

Tiny Treasures looks closely at some 70 fascinating miniature objects from across the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, exploring their meaning and purpose along with their often dazzling workmanship, and showing that the human impulse to create on a small scale can produce compelling masterpieces. 

Written by Courtney Leigh Harris