Miniatures, near and afar

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Clay Fulkerson, designer and sculptor of miniature temples, sent me a photo of his latest temple, a Baroque incense burner, shortly after I posted a video of pencil lead sculptures by Salavat Fidai, which elicited from Andrew Reed a photo he took at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of a Dutch rosary bead carved from boxwood, circa 1500.

Of his latest temple confection, Clay writes:

This is another incense burner, the incense cone being placed in the drawer in the base. Smoke rises through the oculus in the dome. As I mentioned before, it seems I’m moving from purely classical structures into the realm of the baroque, the English baroque in particular.  My newest designs are original, but inspired by (who knows how many) structures I’ve seen in my travels, in books and online.

Andrew, on the other hand, sent along with the photo of the rosary miniature along with the museum’s text for its exhibit:

Date: 1500–1510

Culture: South Netherlandish

Medium: Boxwood

Dimensions: Diam: 2 1/16 in. (5.2 cm)

Classification: Sculpture-Miniature-Wood

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.190.475

Rosary beads, miniature altars, and other small devotional objects produced in Brabant in the early sixteenth century inspire awe by the detail and minuteness of their carving. Produced in relatively large numbers, these rosary beads were carved of many pieces of fine-grained boxwood that were then fitted together, presumably with the aid of a magnifying glass. On the outside of this bead is the crown of thorns among pierced Gothic arches and circles accompanied by biblical inscriptions. The upper interior depicts Adam and Eve and the tree of knowledge when closed; when opened, a triptych is formed, with depictions of, on the left, the Journey to Nazareth and the Nativity; in the center, the Journey with the Adoration of the Kings in the background; and, on the right, the Presentation and the Offering of Doves. In the lower half is the Crucifixion with ancillary scenes of the Agony in the Garden and Peter cutting off the ear of Malachus.


Speaking of which, view more of Clay’s work on my post “Ancient temples on parade” about his exhibit last November at Cranston’s William Hall Free Library – itself a classical gem.


About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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