At the Gallery : The Tiniest Carvings You Ever Did See


My friend Meghan and I had an art-date on Saturday evening at the AGO, where we saw something that was mind-blowing -- some stunningly small carvings made out of wood. The exhibition is called "Small Wonders : Gothic Boxwood Miniatures" and features 60 wooden miniatures.


It was organized in partnership with The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I understand that it will travel to these museums after it leaves Toronto at the end of January.

Having been carved over 500 years ago in the early 1500s, these pieces are a real mystery, in that nobody really knows who created them and how they accomplished such a feat, given that they had no electric lighting nor good ways to magnify their work. Investigation into how these could possibly have been made is ongoing and involves a number of scientists including people from NASA. The exhibition includes xrays and speculative videos on the subject.

Given that all the pieces deal with religious imagery, taking the form of Prayer beads, a rosary, and altarpieces, it is known that the reason they were created was to facilitate personal devotion. The premise was that people could carry these small pieces with them wherever they went, and use them to guide their prayers.

The fact that these fragile boxwood pieces survived for more than 500 years is stunning in itself, as are the intricate minuscule details contained within something that can be held in the palm of your hand.


↑ 2 inches wide excluding the fold-out panels ↑



↑ This has a hinge at the back so it opens up and has carvings within. ↑


↑ To give you an idea of size, here I am looking at the skull pictured above. ↑


↑ Meghan has the best sweaters! ↑


↑ The Chatsworth Rosary was originally owned by Henry VIII and his first wife, Katharine of Aragon. ↑






Although we'd both seen the other wonderful temporary show that is currently at the AGO, Mystical Landscapes (which I wrote about in this post), she's a member of the gallery therefore gets free tickets so, we thought, why not see those beautiful paintings again, so we did that too.


The show contains eight paintings by Monet -- one of his works recently sold at auction for a record price of $81.4 million US, so as we went through that section we marveled at the fact that we were amidst art with a value of over $650 million US dollars, in that area alone. We also acknowledged how fortunate we are to live within walking distance of this fine gallery.


↑ Yes, the art that surrounded us was priceless, nothing beats the people you love, making this artwork my favourite of the lot. It was our 7th Friendiversary last week and I thank the fates that put this caring, smart and funny lady in my life's path. ↑

Given it was a Saturday evening, there was a wedding being set up, to take place after closing. What a great place to get married!


↑ The service was to take place in Galleria Italia ↑


↑ ... and the reception in Walker Court ↑


↑ We caught a glimpse of the wedding party just before we left the gallery. I bet those people were pretty excited! ↑

"Small Wonders : Gothic Boxwood Miniatures" runs until January 22, 2017. It can be seen for the price of regular admission, which is free on Wednesday evenings, and "Mystical Landscapes" runs until January 29, 2017. You need pre-purchased tickets for the latter, which are offered at a discounted price on Wednesday evenings.

Having had our fill of art, we then found a comfortable spot to have some wine and a snack, The Red Lounge on Spadina, just south of College Street. It's not a fancy place but perfect for what we were looking for.



Thanks for checking out my blog,
xo loulou
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2 Responses to At the Gallery : The Tiniest Carvings You Ever Did See

  1. Vix says:

    The skill is just breathtaking! What a wonderful exhibition and a rather fabulous snack afterwards. x

  2. Julie says:

    I love those carved beads, they are incredible. Such a wonder, and I feel lucky that the AGO has so many of them! I’ve seen a few wedding set ups at the AGO- I bet the price is crazy, but oh, how beautiful. And yum, nachos!!

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