A few of the Met’s tiniest masterpieces – text Abigail Cain Associate Editor at Artsy images Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dear Shaded Viewers,

I was reading a piece in Artsy by Abigail Cain this morning and wanted to share it with you. https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-7-mets-tiniest-masterpieces?

Click the above link as I only posted 3 of the 7 tiniest masterpieces at the Met.

Skeleton Astride a Skull (late 18th – early 19th century) 1.5 x 1.1 x 1.4 in.

This macabre miniature is part of a Japanese tradition that has its beginnings in 17th-century fashion. As men’s kimonos evolved, they no longer featured pockets in their sleeves. Instead, men began to carry their things in pouches hung from strings around their necks; they used small, carved objects to counterbalance the weight of their bags. These objects eventually became known as netsuke, and as time went on, they developed an elaborate vocabulary of religious subjects, literary characters, and mythological elements. Netsuke could even be funny—this particular example from the Met’s collection was intended to make light of human mortality.

 Scarabs and Seal Amulets (ca.1479-1458 B.C.) Various sizes, approx. 0.8 x 0.7 x 0.3 in

Between 1926 and 1927, the Met sent a team to excavate an ancient funerary temple in Egypt’s Western Thebes. In the end, they unearthed a cache of almost 300 scarabs and stamp-seals, the majority of which ended up in the collection of the New York museum. Carved to resemble a beetle on top, these miniscule artifacts can be flipped to reveal inscriptions underneath, which would have been pressed into clay to leave a lasting image. Many of these particular scarabs honor Hatshepsut, one of Egypt’s few female pharaohs, and list the many titles she held throughout her life.

 Necklace Ornaments, Frogs (15th-early 16th century) 0.8 in.
Aztec nobility often adorned themselves with golden jewelry, using beads shaped like animals such as turtles or, in this case, frogs. Although each diminutive amphibian appears identical from a distance, a closer look reveals small variations—evidence that they were made using the lost-wax process, in which individual clay molds were broken after casting in order to free the object inside. It’s difficult to know if this particular work was the product of Aztec jewelry-makers themselves, or the Mixtec people of southern Mexico, revered for their skills in wax casting.
Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.