Greater Ancestors

World Museum

Cloisters, Gothic miniature marvels

Referred to as the Met cloisters.

Gothic boxwood miniatures. Around 1500’s an artist from the Netherlands carved a tiny prayer bead out of boxwood.

The boxes measure 5 cm or around two inches in diameter. They are amazingly small in comparison to the amount of detail and superior craftsmanship.

There are scenes of Adam and Eve,

the wise men of Bethlehem,

the crucifixion.

Until recently no one knew how it was made. The Met conservator unlocked the secret.

Tiny wooden pegs secure the elements.

Each panel was carved separately from above, front, and back, to build an overall scene.

When assembled the panels function like theatrical flats, to create a deep space. The scene comes to life.

This exhibit is organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto: and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Small Wonders Gothic boxwood miniatures. May 21, 2017.


“Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures”In this video, Pete Dandridge, conservator and administrator in the Department of Objects Conservation, reveals the wizardry behind the creation of a miniature boxwood prayer bead. Through his collaboration with Lisa Ellis—conservator of sculpture and decorative arts at the AGO – Art Gallery of Ontario—the techniques of the 16th-century carvers are fully understood for the first time.

The exhibition “Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures, on view at The Met Cloisters through May 21, 2017.”

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