Peek Inside This Chappaqua Artist’s 15th-Century Dollhouse

Photos by Jenna Bascom

Chappaqua’s Joanna Fisher assembled dozens of artists to create an incredible, detailed dollhouse on its way to The Bruce Museum.

Joanna Fisher is still a bit stunned at how her life changed during the pandemic. “It’s really funny, because if someone said to me, ‘You are going to be a famous miniatures artist,’ I would have replied, ‘What are you talking about?’” laughs the Chappaqua-based artist and collector. “I have been commissioned to make pillows for Takashimaya and been around [the art world] for quite a while, but I never thought I would be known for this.”

When Fisher says “this,” she’s referring to a miniature work of art that has been drawing countless heads and plenty of press since its May completion. The Fisher Dollhouse is a 10-room, 15th-century-themed mini-masterpiece populated by astounding works of art created by a host of acclaimed artists and Fisher’s friends over the pandemic. Participants include the likes of Federico de Francesco, Veronica Gaido, Tatyana Murray, Michele Oka Doner, Antonio Pio Saracino, Dustin Yellin, Rachel Lee Hovnanian, Ryan McGinness, Hunt Slonem, and Darren Waterston.

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Palazzo garnered enough buzz to land its own exhibition (from May to September) at New York City’s Museum of Arts and Design before moving to the Bruce Museum, where it will be on show beginning this month. Following The Bruce, the work is off to Palermo, Sicily. Some of the priceless pieces found in Palazzo include two intricate glass chandeliers by Spanish artists Mariana Grande and Mario Ramos, a detailed bust of Julius Caesar by miniaturist David Castillo, and tiny needlepoint rugs designed by Fisher herself.

Joanna Fisher. Photo by Jenna Bascom.
Joanna Fisher

“Since it was created during the pandemic, everyone was working in isolation and were thrilled to have this mini project, since there were no art shows, no galleries open, and they had the time,” recalls Fisher. “It was a quiet period for them, and they could really think about the palazzo and have fun with it.”

Fisher has already begun work on a new miniature, this one bearing a Dutch theme and far more personal elements. “It going to be very different [from The Fisher Dollhouse]. It’s much more naturalistic,” explains Fisher of the new work. “The elements are a little cruder and more handmade looking, and I am using mostly German pieces that are more primitive. Essentially, I am doing a tiny version of my barn here in Chappaqua, so it is a barn within a barn. It’s called a Dutch House, and nobody has made one in over 400 years.”

Related: Your Complete Guide to Westchester’s Artistic Venues

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