16th Century Miniature Boxwood

The miniature boxwood carvings were made during a very brief window, between 1500 and 1530,

in Flanders or the Netherlands. It’s possible that only a single workshop, perhaps two, carved them all. The rise of a new moneyed merchant class with money to spend on expensive and showy objects created a market for high-end, portable religious carvings. Come the Reformation, rosaries, altarpieces and beads would go most decidedly out of fashion in Northern Europe and the window shut.

16th Century Miniature Boxwood

The space the carvers had to work in was so small and the wood so hard, that it seems almost impossible they were able to achieve such complex scenes, many with dozens of figures, human, heavenly and demonic, architectural elements, trees, symbols, all in the space of a single inch. They used specialized tools two inches long to dig deep into the wood, creating tiers of characters and landscape.

16th Century Miniature Boxwood

16th Century Miniature Boxwood

16th Century Miniature Boxwood

16th Century Miniature Boxwood

16th Century Miniature Boxwood

 

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