HENRY KUPJACK’S
MINIATURE ROOMS

 

Alexandar’s Seige Tent at  Halicarnassos c. 333 b.c.e.
Henry Kupjack, Studio date 1983, Collection of the artist. 

     
 The tent structure of this miniature is conjectural in that nothing of the original survives. Siege machines at this time were modular in construction and capable of being dismantled and moved, hence the engineering of the tent reflects this level of sophistication. The furniture in this tent is copied or adapted from vase paintings or reliefs of both Greek and Egyptian origins. Most items were gilded bronze, portable and collapsible for easy moving and storing. The many military items were copied from the famous Roman mosaic in Pompei of Alexander at the battle of Issus.             
     

 

American Diner in Red in decorative coffer c. 1942
Henry Kupjack, Studio date 1994, Collection of the artist.

Although this miniature does not depict a specific diner, it represents a type of factory-made interior common on the east coast of the United States until World War II. Diners like this had a long tradition of being manufactured in a factory and being towed to the site complete, even including dishes and menus.
The jukebox is typical of the décor that helped to define the popular culture in the 1930’s and 40’s. Most of these interiors were in the machine-adapted art deco style with its automobile evoking curves, quilted stainless steel paneling and sleek styling.

We chose to date this diner interior with replicas of a motorcycle jacket and goggles, WPA war posts and the like to suggest the last edge of this style. World War II and the 1950’s destroyed this ambience, only to replace it with, what sadly, we are all too familiar with.
 

 

 

Bedchamber in the Palace of the Ptolomies c. 200 b.c.e.
Henry Kupjack, Studio date 1980, Collection of the artist.

After the Greek conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, Egypt was ruled from Alexandria by Ptolomies, successors to Alexander’s boyhood friend Ptolomey. The Greeks imposed Hellenistic culture on the Egyptians and in this miniature one can see classical Greek taste and the more ancient Egyptian objects and style. Bronze, marble, gold, and ebony were the common materials of the time.

 

Dauphine* Dining Room in the Raleigh Tavern, Williamsburg, VA  c. 1770
Eugene Kupjack,  Studio date 1983, Collection of the artist.

History tells us that this inn was the favorite meeting place of the Burgesses of the Virginia colonies. The room is furnished in the Queen Anne style with several Chinese import items. The wallpaper is taken from a full-size example at Williamsburg. It is said that the Declaration of Independence was discussed at this table by the various members of the revolution.

*Dauphiné is a French term for the heir or son of the king, this term is also used by the English to refer to the Prince of Wales and was used in colonial America and the tavern  dining room miniature depicted was named for the dauphine.
 

 

 

French Provincial Bedroom Normandy, France c.1850
Eugene and Henry Kupjack, Studio date 1987, Collection of the artist.

This miniature room incorporates several typical features of the French country house: the recessed bed alcove, beamed ceiling, thick stonewalls and red tile floor. The furniture depicted is provincial in design and was made by local craftsmen, generally out of fruitwood. The curtains draped over the bed alcove were functional in that they were drawn at night to keep out drafts. The wallpaper was originally printed from wood blocks and was much in vogue in France after 1770 in these interiors. The carpet is gross-pointe and was often made by the lady of the house. Tin toleware was used for many items in lieu of china, including the bathtub.

 

Japanese Farm Kitchen c.1700
Henry Kupjack, Studio date 1985, Collection of the artist.

This farmhouse depicts a typical kitchen of the Edo period in Japan. Japanese homes were built by a professional class carpenters, utilizing a strict construction code called Kwari. Kitchens were always two levels, one of which was a clay floor. Cooking was accomplished in a stove of clay and tile, making no provisions for the smoke except for a vent in the roof. Water was used for everything in the kitchen and in this case an inside well was utilized. One can see to the right and the left, the outside privy and bath. Most of the kitchen items were copied from Japanese ‘Folk Art’.
 

 

 

17th Century Pirate Captain’s Cabin c. 1680
Henry Kupjack, Studio date 2004, Collection of the artist.

This miniature room depicts a 17th century Spanish Galleon Captain’s cabin whish would have been a captured trophy vessel of a pirate crew who often commandeered their ships as booty. There are few existing examples surviving, or drawings of ship interiors from this period so some artistic license was necessary in creating this model. One can see here the plundered treasure of the pirate crew being divvied up on the table in this cabin. The interior and furnishings are typical of the Spanish/Flemish style of shipbuilding and fittings in the 17th Century. The room is placed in a decorative chest in the Spanish style of the 17th century especially created for this room.

 

Blackwell Parlor c. 1760
 Eugene and Henry Kupjack studio date 1982 on loan to the Winterthur Museum.

The original Blackwell Parlor’s exquisite woodwork comes from the Blackwell house, built around 1764 on Pine Street in Philadelphia. The pedimented doorways and richly carved chimney fireplace wall are outstanding examples of eighteenth century American architecture. The Philadelphia Chippendale furniture in the parlor represents the highest skills of the American craftsmen prior to the revolution. Hairy-paw feet, rarely seen in American furniture are found on the fire screen and on several chairs. The Chippendale table next to marble-faced fireplace is set with a Chinese export porcelain tea service, which matches the items on the mantle. Completing the room setting are an Irish cut-glass chandelier and two pastel portraits of John Singleton Copley and his wife, by the artist. 

 

 

 

Montmorenci Stair Hall c. 1830
Eugene and Henry Kupjack, Studio date 1982, on loan to the Winterthur Museum.

The original Montmorenci Stair Hall’s free standing spiral stairs are molded after the staircase in Montmorenci, a North Carolina mansion built around 1822. The balusters and decorative applied brackets were carefully copied from the original staircase, while the treads and risers were cut from yellow pine boards from the porch columns at Montmorenci. The finely detailed cornice and molded plaster ornamentation above each door blend perfectly with the stair’s simple carving.

The furnishing in the Montmorenci Stair Hall exhibit the refined taste of the Federal Period. The mahogany and satinwood chairs and settees were made by John and Thomas Seymour of Boston. A large portrait of Catherine Browne of New York, painted around 1800, hangs above the settee.

 

New Orleans Parlor c. 1850
Eugene and Henry Kupjack, Studio date 1991, Collection of the artist.

This miniature room depicts an antebellum New Orleans interior with the influence of the French heritage of New Orleans. The furniture is early Victorian, which was typically constructed of mahogany and rosewood. Parlors of this period often contained musical instruments such as the square piano seen to the left. The room itself is in the New Orleans neo-classical Greek revival style so typical of the Deep South and has large windows facing a second story iron balcony. A home such as this in the Vieux Carrié, the old French Quarter, were often built around enclosed courtyards festooned with cast and wrought-iron balconies in what has become a distinctive New Orleans style. 
 

 

 

1950’s Artist Studio, New York City c. 1954
Eugene and Henry Kupjack, Studio date 1991, Collection of the artist.

This miniature depicts an artists’ loft in the Soho district in New York City in the 1950’s. These types of lofts were both a workspace and a place to live for the poor artists of the time before Soho became trendy and expensive in the 1970’s. This artist is producing works typical of the abstract expressionist who were working in New York at the time De Kooning, Stella, and Rothko.

 

San Francisco Saloon and Dance Hall c. 1885
Henry Kupjack, Studio date 1998, Collection of the artist.

My Great Uncle was a set designer for the 20th Century Fox Film Studios in California. He had created a San Francisco cowboy bar, of the Hollywood imagination shall we say, for a movie that was never made and sent the drawings for the set to my father. I redesigned this large set in order to create this miniature room showing all the elements but in a presentable size and context.

Film studios up until the 1960’s had vast warehouses of props and set pieces which were reused many times and all the items and props were in as many as 50 movies. This is an archetypical Hollywood version of a saloon with gambling, a bar, dance stage and the requisite rooms upstairs for the dancers.
 

 

 

Pullman Observation Car, Columbian Exhibition Chicago c.1893
Henry Kupjack, Studio date 2002, Collection of the artist.

This miniature depicts the last third of the observation car built by the Pullman Palace Car Company as part of a four-car train which was exhibited at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893. This ‘Palace Car’ was the ultimate expression of the luxury of rail travel proffered by Pullman in the 1890’s. Every material used was of the finest quality available and represented the nee plus ultra of comfort and appearance and represents the highest point in opulence only to give way after World War I to the more modern Art Deco style. This represents the high point of the golden age of railroads in America. This car was destroyed just after the First World War and only a few examples of this extravagant style are left in railroad museums around the world.

 

H.C. Kupjack Loft c. 1995
Henry Kupjack, Studio date 2003, Collection of the artist.

This miniature room depicts my loft in the Lincoln Park district of Chicago. In 1977 I designed and remodeled the space form a double store front to my taste utilizing inexpensive materials and executing most of the construction myself. Most of the furniture contained here in was designed and made by either my father or myself over the last thirty years, with the exception of the obvious antique items. My father, my uncle or myself created most of the artwork. I would characterize this style as New American Empire anticipating our current status in the modern world.
 

 

 

Beidermeier Library c. 1815
Henry Kupjack, Studio date 2007, Collection of the artist.

This interior is furnished in the Prussian Neo-Classical style commonly called Beidermeier. Inspired from the classical and derived from the French Empire style, it suited in form, proportion and simplicity, the modest size and unostentatious needs of the comfortable bourgeois homes.
These interiors were often furnished in suite with many types of small special purpose items such as writing desks and stands.

The Beidermeier style is more relaxed and intimate than Empire and is the last of the created styles before the Victorians exhumed Gothic and other revivals, which so characterized 19th Century machine made designs.

 

18th Century English Pub c. 1795
Eugene and Henry Kupjack, Studio date 1990, Collection of Mr. Robert Nelson.

This miniature depicts a small pub in southern rural England at the end of the 18th Century. These establishments were often roadhouses and restaurants as well and offered the traveler lodging. Often these pubs were the center of small town life and acted as a meeting place for the local community as well as providing entertainment. It is furnished with objects and furniture typical of 18th Century English country crafts and design.
 

 

 

Louis XVI Dining Room c. 1785
Henry Kupjack, Studio date 2001, Collection of the artist.

This miniature is an adaptation of the full sized room from a Hotel on the Cours d’Albert in Bourdeaux, 1780-86, which is presently housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The original is slightly different in that the room has a different fire place, over mantle and furniture.

The French in this period did not have specific rooms dedicated to dining and they had tables set up wherever it suited the size and intimacy of the gathering. Here dinner is set for four; most of the furniture and decorative items are in the Louis XVI style.

 

Backstage at the Wintergarden Theatre, New York City c. 1940
Henry Kupjack, Studio date 1994, Collection of Ms. Patricia Slesinger.

This miniature depicts a backstage vaudeville dressing room in a theatre built around 1900; we shall say the Wintergarden on Broadway in New York City. The various costumes and personal items would have been from the late 1930’s. The view through the door on the left is of the backstage area and through the window is a back alley scene with the Chrysler Building illuminated in the distance. The costumes, photographs, trunk labels et cetera are from the period and shows that Ms. Slesinger’s mother participated in as a young girl, most notably the Olsen & Johnny Review.
 

 

 

Thomas Jefferson Study and Bedroom at Monticello c. 1770
Eugene Kupjack Studio date 1964 Collection of the Forbes Magazine Gallery.

This room at Monticello was furnished with many pieces that were made on the premises of Jefferson’s own specifications. The French furniture in this miniature was copied from originals Jefferson purchased in France during his ten-year stay. His inventions, copied in miniature, include a pantograph to copy letters, a chaise lounge with revolving chair and a revolving rent table.

 

Ulysses S. Grant Dining Room at Galena c. 1879
Eugene Kupjack Studio date 1964 Collection of the Forbes Magazine Gallery.

President U.S. Grant moved into the house after he retired from office in 1879. The house was a gift from the people of Galena, Illinois. The kitchen can be seen through the door in the rear and the stairway and hallway can be seen through the door in the foreground. Most of the original furniture has been preserved in the house and has been reproduced here in miniature. The furnishings reflect the style and taste of the Victorian era with all it’s fussiness and ornamentation.
 

 

 

Ottoman Coffeehouse, 18th Century
Henry Kupjack, Studio Date 2008, The Rahmi M. Koç Museum Collection

When the Ottomans first encountered coffee in the middle of the 16th Century when it came to İstanbul from the Arabian Peninsula, they immediately fell in love with this enjoyable product. They set up special places to cook, drink and sell it. İstanbul coffeehouses were formed after passing through the distiller of time and history and living through many prohibitions and destructions and being distilled and refined by the taste and effect of people of all classes. Sometimes down at heels at a remote district, sometimes splendid at the garden of a mansion and sometimes spacious and pleasant by the side of the Bosphorus. However, all of them had the basic coffeehouse tools, all with a fine taste and a certain level of smartness. Henry Kupjack presents us with all these finenesses with small magnificient details in his miniature coffeehouse which cannot fit into our fantasies. Just like somebody who has lived in those times and has been to those coffeehouses or like a historian who kept the pulse of those centuries; it is possible to find signs of all the coffeehouses on the Ottoman geography in this miniature room. Kupjack has added the wonderful coffeehouse scholarship to his unique artistic talents. From the coin on the shelf for holding the turbans, to the stools, from the hookahs on the side tables to the coffee cooking pots all the miniature items in the room are masterpiece-versions of the real ones used in the past all made by Kupjack. The coffee stove, the walls, the columns, the stools, the chandeliers, they all have been fashioned with the refineness and smartness of a jeweler and are the eye straining hand work of a wonderful artisan. Kupjack, in this small room, carries coffee enthusiasts to another level, and as a master artisan, who succeeds in doing this, he has created one of the peaks of international art.

Text by: Mr. Emin Nedret İşli