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October 29, 1990

This is one of a pair of ``tabernacle'' frames belonging to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. It was made in the early 17th century, possibly in Rome. The name ``tabernacle'' is used to denote frames of classical architectural design - though this was made in the ``mannerist'' period, when such notions as the broken pediment (at the top) were indulged because they diverged from strict classical precedents.

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With its marbled columns, plinths, imposts, and entablature frieze, this is a frame whose self-importance must have dwarfed the image it was built to surround. But its enormous scale is deceptive: It is a miniature, only measured in inches.