Little Miracles: the Thorne Gallery

April 21, 2018 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | ART, CRAFT, HISTORY, USA History | 0 Comments |

English Roman Catholic Church model, portraying a standard of its type as at the late 13th Century (recent addition)

Art Institute Chicago, April 2018 –

The Thorne Miniature Rooms were painstakingly built, on a scale of one inch to one foot, according to models conceived by Mrs. James Ward Thorne of Chicago and constructed between 1932 and 1940.  They are presented in framed booths in the Thorne Gallery in the lower level of the Chicago Art Institute, which have, in addition, superb, tasteful and realistic back-lighting.

English Roman Catholic Church model, portraying a standard as at the late 13th Century

These are wonderful in their detail, whether we are offered a paper-walled Japanese room:

…or early American interiors, in all their homely glory, whether kitchens:

Pennsylvanian kitchen, c. 1700s

…or this Virginia parlour:

French style is also beautifully presented, from this Louis XII hall (c. 1500) –

…or this Empire period anteroom, c. 1810:

Merrie England is also celebrated in miniature. How about this Tudor bedroom, complete with ceiling detail…

…or the lovely English reception hall from Jacobean times, c. 1625 – 1653:

And the sumptuous library, detailed down to the individual calf-bound tomes (note that someone has taken a volume or two (actually, we think three) from the middle shelf on the right) –

Finally, how about this Pullman observation car, made for the Columbian Expo, Chicago, in 1893, celebrating the Golden Age of Rail? Everything, down to the luggage, is wonderfully rendered –

It is pertinent to note that George Pullman, who created the carriages that succeeded so spectacularly in the 19th century, also built ‘Pullman’, the “planned worker community” in Illinois, but that during a slump in trade, he cut both workers’ hours and wages, but not the rents in Pullman! This led to the great rail strike of 1894. Ah the 1890s – The Golden Age of Strikes.


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