So painstakingly detailed, you could easily mistake these photographs for real life-sized rooms straight out of a decorating magazine or a coffee table book for ‘grand home design’.
A Tennessee entrance hall
These are miniature models made on a scale of one inch to one foot– that includes the upholstery, textiles, rugs, curtains, hand-painted wall-paper and hanging miniature art. They were commissioned in the 1930s and 40s by Narcissa Niblack Thorne (1882-1966), a wealthy Chicagoan heiress with a love for dollhouses that continued into adulthood.
With the help of master craftsmen and cabinetmakers, she oversaw the historically accurate miniature recreation of dozens of architecturally important rooms in homes and museums she had visited on her travels around the world.
An English Great Room, late Tudor period
What makes them so life-like other than the exquisite detailing is probably the lighting that gives the allusion of doors and windows leading to a real outside world or doorways peaking into another hidden room– true dedication to a make-believe world.
New Mexico Dining room
In total, Thorne had nearly one hundred rooms constructed, which can be found in museums today across the world, including the Victoria & Albert museum in London, the Kay miniature museum of Los Angeles, the Phoenix Art museum which has twenty models and the Art Institute of Chicago which cares for 68 rooms.
English Entrance, Georgian Period
A French bedroom, 16th century
A California living room, 1930s
An English Rotunda library of the Regency period
An American Shaker Living Room
A French bathroom and boudoir of the Revolutionary period
1930s Japanese interior
A New York Parlour
A Jacobean/ Stuart bed chamber
Art deco Californian hallway
A living room in Cape Cod
A French Anteroom (waiting room) of the Empire period
English drawing room of the Modern period
An English cottage kitchen of the Queen Anne period
An English reception, Jacobean period
A French Art deco library
New Hampshire dining room
An 18th century American kitchen
French provincial bedroom, Louis XVI
Art deco library
French Louis XVI drawing room
Despite her passing in 1966, the craftsmanship of the Thorne rooms arguably still lives on. The son of Mrs. Thorne’s most valued craftsman, Eugene Kupjack, has continued the legacy of his father’s work and still produces miniatures today which you can see on the website, Kupjack studios.
Here’s a great video about the Chicago Art Institute’s collection with some great close-ups.
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