The works in this collecting area have traditionally represented a survey of European art from the Italian Renaissance to the mid-1900s. More than 1,000 works of art from the Thomson Collection have bolstered the core strength of the European holdings, adding mostly small-scale sculpture dating from the Middle Ages to the 1700s. While the centrepiece of the Thomson Collection is Peter Paul Rubens’s monumental Flemish Baroque painting Massacre of the Innocents (c. 1611–1612), the works that most typified Kenneth Thomson’s collecting interests were diminutive, precious and made from natural materials such as ivory and boxwood.
Among the objects that comprise the Thomson Collection are sacred Medieval enamel and ivory works, Medieval and Renaissance devotional diptychs and secular ivory and boxwood utilitarian objects, Renaissance rosaries and prayer beads; Baroque secular boxwood and ivory sculptures, goldsmith works from the 1300s to the 1600s, and painted and carved portrait miniatures. Other prominent additions from the Thomson Collection include diminutive Egyptian antiquities, small-scale Greek and Roman antiquities, Asian works of art, Chinese snuff bottles dating back to the 1730s, Japanese wood and ivory netsuke and ojime carvings, and some Japanese lacquered objects from the early 1900s. A significant portion of the Thomson Collection is devoted to European ship models.
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