Henning’s architectural sculpture in miniature

While knowledge of Greek architectural reliefs was disseminated through both engravings and casts, they also became popular as objets d’art in miniature. John Henning (1771 – 1851), son of a Paisley carpenter, started his artistic career by carving portrait miniatures of local celebrities and visitors. When Henning saw the architectural sculptures from the Parthenon—known as the ‘Elgin marbles’—in London in 1811, he obtained Lord Elgin’s permission first to draw the Parthenon frieze and then to carve a miniature version in slate, in reverse and restored to his conception of its original state. Henning also made a miniature version of the frieze from the Temple of Apollo at Bassai, by then in the British Museum. From these slate miniatures Henning produced plaster casts for sale. These were so popular that they were copied and pirated in a variety of media.