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Episode 716

Gothic boxwood miniature
Sun, 2019-Apr-21 00:12 UTC
Length - 3:14

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Welcome to featured Wiki of the Day where we read the summary of the featured Wikipedia article every day.

The featured article for Sunday, 21 April 2019 is Gothic boxwood miniature.

Gothic boxwood miniatures are very small religious wood sculptures produced during the 15th and 16th centuries, mostly in today's Low Countries, at the end of the Gothic period of the emerging Northern Renaissance. They consist of highly intricate layers of reliefs often rendered to nearly microscopic level. The miniatures are made from boxwood wood carvings. Buxus has a fine grain and high density suitable for detailed micro-carving. There are around 150 surviving examples. The majority are spherical beads (known as prayer nuts), statuettes, skulls, or coffins; some 20 are in the form of polyptychs including triptych and diptych altarpieces, tabernacles and monstrances. The polyptychs are typically 10–13 cm in height. Most of the beads are 10–15 cm in diameter, and designed so they could be held in the palm of a hand during personal devotion or hung from necklaces or belts as fashionable accessories.

Boxwood miniatures were highly prized in the early 16th century. Their iconography, form, and utility can be linked to medieval ivory carvings, as well as contemporary illuminated miniatures, altarpieces, panel paintings, sculpture, woodcuts, and engravings. They typically contain imagery from the life of Mary, the Crucifixion of Jesus, and vistas of Heaven and Hell. Each miniature's production required exceptional craftsmanship, and some may have taken decades of cumulative work to complete, suggesting that they were commissioned by high-ranking nobles.

A number of the miniatures appear to have come from a workshop led by Adam Dircksz, who is thought to have produced dozens of miniatures. Almost nothing is known about Dircksz or the artisans who produced the miniatures. Some of the original owners can be identified from markings, usually initials or coats of arms, emplaced by the sculptors. Important collections of boxwood miniatures are in the Art Gallery of Ontario, in the British Museum as part of the Waddesdon Bequest, and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Because of their rarity and the difficulty in discerning their intricacy from reproductions, boxwood miniatures have not been as widely studied as other forms of Netherlandish visual art.

This recording reflects the Wikipedia text as of 00:12 UTC on Sunday, 21 April 2019.

For the full current version of the article, see Gothic boxwood miniature on Wikipedia.

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