Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mystery Solved!

OK, Teresa and Machelle figured out the answer to my Mystery Rooms post of last week.

These rooms are ALL MINIATURES! The are all 1:12 scale (1" =1 foot). Sixty-eight of these miniature rooms have been on display at the Art Institute of Chicago for several decades, delighting generations of people who have visited them. They were all created in the 1930's by Mrs. James Ward Thorne.

Mrs. Thorne
Mrs. James Ward Thorne

Mrs. Thorne was a young Chicago socialite who traveled extensively throughout high society in Europe and America. Her lifelong passion was collecting miniatures. After WWI, many of Europe's grand interiors were being dismantled as tastes changed. Some museums were starting to create period full-scale rooms to show what life was like in the old days. Mrs. Thorne thought it would be a great idea to create miniature versions of such rooms for educational and historical purposes.

1760 N.H. dining room

Mrs. Thorne had been amassing expensive miniatures created by European artisans, and creating rooms in which to display them was her intent. She hired the best team of craftsmen and her first 30 rooms were such a big hit, that she created more, instructing the craftsmen in architectural details and all aspects of her designs. The craftsmen and women designed the furniture, rugs and draperies under Mrs. Thorne's direction. She continued to create miniatures her entire life.

The 68 Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute were presented to the museum in 1940 after being displayed at various World's Fairs and museums. A permanent exhibit was finished in 1954. Other rooms created by Mrs. Thorne are on permanent display in the Phoenix Museum and the Dulin Gallery in Knoxville.

c. 1700 Mass. living room

The Thorne Rooms have been a love of mine since I was a little girl. Although I don't have a lot of miniatures of my own, I always had a dream of someday having a dollhouse full of detailed miniatures and rooms just like the ones created by Mrs. Thorne.

The images shown are from a great book about the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. Although only 4 of the rooms are from the Victorian period, I love them all. If you haven't seen them, you must make the trip to Chicago someday for a visit to the Art Institute.

Miniature Rooms

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Blogger Rose ~Victorian Rose ~ said...

You make me HOMESICK for Chicago.


September 25, 2010 at 11:44 PM  
Blogger Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Rose-

Sorry about that! Do you remember seeing the Thorne Rooms when you lived here?


September 26, 2010 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger The Blackwood Cottage said...

I will put them on my Chicago "to do list"! Wonderful and informative post!!

ps. love your music

September 26, 2010 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Machelle-

Yes, if you haven't visited the Thorne Rooms, it's a great thing to see in addition to all the masterpieces in the Art Institute! And, I'm glad you like the music. :-)


September 26, 2010 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger La Petite Gallery said...

I have to visit Chicago before I kick th bucket. Lovely. You are
a blessing to the city. I have learned so much about it.


September 27, 2010 at 5:07 AM  
Blogger Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Yvonne-

Thanks for the nice comments. I hope you can visit Chicago someday. It's a beautiful city.

But don't kick the bucket anytime soon! :-)


September 27, 2010 at 8:06 PM  
Blogger The Dusty Victorian said...

How amazing! The "natural" lighting through me off.
Mrs. James Ward Thorne is some kind of a genius.

September 28, 2010 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger Lady Kara said...

How adorable! What a fine blog. I'll be following! :^)

September 28, 2010 at 6:06 PM  
Blogger Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Anyes-

Yes, I agree, the lighting really looks natural. I also like the way the draperies look heavy and the fabrics hang naturally. They are a delight to see!


September 29, 2010 at 7:05 AM  
Blogger Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Lady Kara-

Welcome! Thank you for the nice comment. Enjoy. :-)


September 29, 2010 at 7:06 AM  
Blogger The Rustic Victorian said...

Spectacular!!!! Such detail. How nice to have the Art Insitute to visit.
Great Post!

October 20, 2010 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Thanks Marcie! The detail is really intricate, isn't it?


October 25, 2010 at 4:35 PM  

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