These 500-year-old boxwood miniatures from the 16th century are tiny religious carvings created in Flanders (Netherlands) that require researchers to view them using micro-CT scanning, Advanced 3D analysis Software, and even X-rays.
Market demand for profitable religious 16th-century carvings occurred in Europe before the Reformation period (1517-1648). When attempts to reform the Catholic Church and Protestant Churches took hold throughout Europe, church-related accessories were no longer in demand.
Curators and conservators of Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures an exhibition at The Art Gallery of Ontario used micro-CT scanning and 3D Analysis Software in order to analyze the tiny sculptures within the boxwood.
Some parts of the sculptures are tinier than grass seeds. The production process remains a mystery and traces of gold and other decorations impede X-ray views.
Researchers took these 500-year-old miniature boxwood carvings to the lab to find out their secrets
They think these miniatures were made between 1500 and 1530 in Flanders or the Netherlands
The human eye isn’t able to analyze details this tiny
So researchers used micro-CT scanning and Advanced 3D Analysis Software
To find out how intricate the pieces really are
They found joints in the inner layers so tiny that only a microscope or an X-ray can detect them
And pins, smaller than a grass seed
But even advanced technology couldn’t see everything
Because traces of gold and other decoration materials conceal the X-ray views
The miniatures were a result of a rising new social class in Europe that created a demand for these high-quality portable religious carvings
However, soon the Reformation began and a lot of church-related accessories went out of fashion