Some museum patrons find it difficult to suspend their disbelief when seeing world-famous masterpieces in person after only viewing reproductions beforehand. Peruvian miniature artist Ana Sofía Casaverde shared similar sentiments last May when she saw Claude Monet’s “Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son” (1875) for the first time at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. What made Casaverde’s experience stand out is that she had brought her own postage-stamp-sized replica of the painting — a feat as impressive as the original work itself, considering she painted it using the head of a needle.
At less than a square inch, Casaverde’s own rendering of the Monet was both a challenge and a work of passion. Before embarking on her miniature replicas, Casaverde studies the artists’ practices and influences to better understand their messaging. “I challenge myself to see how much of this I can transmit in tiny drops while trying to maintain the essence of the original painting,” the artist told Hyperallergic. “When I start to paint, I become so focused that everything around me seems to disappear.”
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The artist described the experience of uniting her “La Pequeña Mujer con Sombrilla” (2021) with the original Monet work as “one of the happiest moments of her life.” She said she was smiling to herself as the museum guide spoke about the details in Monet’s work, such as the implied wind shifting the woman’s dress and the flecks of yellow paint to signify light in the Impressionist style.
“I had imagined all of these details the day that I made the miniature version, without ever thinking that at one point I would be there looking at the original, thanks to my work,” Casaverde continued, saying that she had traveled to New York to see the group exhibition Small is Beautiful that included some of her miniatures before visiting DC.
She has completed around eight other painted replicas in her ongoing series of micro-masterpieces, starting with a few of works by Vincent van Gogh that accompanied a folded paper sculpture of the Dutch artist.
“The series started when I made a miniature of Vincent Van Gogh and it occurred to me that he should have a mini-painting,” Casaverde explained. “That was my first time making them, and that’s how ‘La Nochecita Estrellada’ (2021) was born.”
The artist was actually inspired by van Gogh’s resourcefulness in his practice and cited him as an inspiration for her to use what she had on hand to make her own mini-paintings, so she began painting with needles. Casaverde isn’t just a miniature painter, though, and she doesn’t only create replicas either.
The artist is skilled in bite-sized origami and cut-paper sculpture — both of which are evident in her “Littlest Flowershop” (2022) on display in Small is Beautiful. As an interior designer, Casaverde started out with model furniture mock-ups that just kept getting smaller and smaller.
“Being able to work with my hands and imagine objects at different scales feeds my curiosity and creativity,” Casaverde explained. “It’s very moving for me to see the final work, I think it’s beautiful how something so small can convey so much.”