Small WondersPeople have always been fascinated by grand monuments and towering structures, yet the miniscule can be equally captivating. Miniature art, which scales down the human world to fairy-sized proportions, is an enchanting art-form, capable of evoking the child in all of us.
The art of creating miniatures is thought to have existed for thousands of years. Miniature furniture, for example, was discovered in the pyramids of Egypt. But probably the most familiar form of miniaturization is the dollhouse.
The dollhouse appeared in the 16th century, primarily in Germany and Holland. These coarse, imitation homes were commissioned and owned almost exclusively by the middle classes, as evidence of their prosperity. But they were used for ornamentation rather than as playthings. However, they did double as an educational device for young girls, who were encouraged to familiarize themselves with the workings of the scaled-down kitchens.
Later, in Georgian England, a new standard was established for dollhouse construction. "Baby houses", as they were called in England, became sleek scale-replicas of English mansions and estates. By the 19th century, a 1-12 ratio had become the norm, and dollhouses had evolvedsintoschildren's toys.
These dollhouses now provide us with invaluable historical insight. By taking a looksintostheir tiny spaces, we can obtain a bigger picture of life in bygone eras.