Chateau Meno, 1971, Charlotte Schoenbach, 1:12 scale
Just as the armchair traveler circles the globe through books and magazines, so too can the master miniaturistcreateplaces they may have never actually visited. Charlotte Schoenbach pored over the images of European palaces featured in magazines such as Architectural Digest, filling her notebooks with pages of ideas. Preserved now within the Museum’s collection, those pages of inspiration are a scrapbook of Schoenbach’s creative journey, an imaginative trek that led to this elaborate miniature, built and decorated over a 30-year period. Schoenbach did not set out to recreate any one palace; instead, she combined elements from many different royal residences to produce a series of rooms uniquely her own. The overall style reflects the rococo period of 18th century France, when rich decoration combined with elaborate architectural details to create a dramatic feast for the eyes.
Schoenbach was never formally trained in the art of miniatures, relishing the hands-on learning process as she tackled each new challenge, even teaching herself how to carve wood and to weld. Although most of her interior furnishings were custom made, she did find clever ways to incorporate “found objects.” Numerous beads and pieces of costume jewelry became decorative accents on light fixtures and chandeliers, while painted seashells added a nautical touch to gilded moldings. Perhaps the most charming examples of recycling is her use of an empty lipstick tube as a sophisticated golden trash can.
Schoenbach named her pieceChateau Menoafter her husband, Meno Schoenbach, who admired her fanciful miniature creations and delighted in her skills. The couple never had any children, but Charlotte made several small dollhouses which she gave as gifts as to family and friends.