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Article: Portrait miniature

Portrait miniature

Early Period and Notable Miniaturists

  • Portrait miniatures developed from illuminated manuscripts
  • Famous manuscript painters like Jean Fouquet and Simon Bening were early portrait miniaturists
  • Lucas Horenbout was a Netherlandish miniature painter at the court of Henry VIII
  • France had a strong tradition of miniatures, with artists like François Clouet and Jean Perréal
  • Other notable miniature painters include Simon Renard de St. André and Rosalba Carriera
  • Nicholas Hilliard was the first famous native English portrait miniaturist
  • Hilliard's work was conservative in style and often signed with a Latin motto
  • Hilliard was succeeded by his son Lawrence Hilliard, who had a bolder technique
  • Isaac Oliver and his son Peter Oliver gave roundness and form to the faces they painted
  • Other notable English miniaturists include Balthazar Gerbier and George Jamesone
  • Gervase Spencer, Bernard Lens III, Nathaniel Hone, and Jeremiah Meyer were notable miniaturists associated with the Royal Academy
  • David Loggan, William Faithorne, and John Faber the Elder were skilled workers in black lead
  • Denmark had notable miniature painters like Cornelius Høyer and Christian Horneman

Samuel Cooper and the Puritan Epoch

  • Samuel Cooper was considered the greatest English portrait miniaturist
  • Cooper spent much of his time in Paris and Holland
  • His work had a superb breadth and dignity and was known for its truth to life
  • Cooper painted on card, chicken skin, vellum, and even thin pieces of mutton bone
  • Other notable miniaturists of this period include Alexander Cooper and Richard Gibson

Peak Period by Country

  • Denmark's Cornelius Høyer specialized in miniature painting and was appointed Miniature Painter to the Danish Court
  • Christian Horneman succeeded Høyer as Denmark's premier proponent of miniature portraits
  • Horneman's most known work is a portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven from 1802
  • Miniature painting was popular in other countries as well during the peak period
  • Each country had its own notable miniature painters and unique styles

Notable Miniaturists in Different Countries

  • France: Miniatures were painted by artists like Nicolas de Largillière, François Boucher, and Jean-Marc Nattier
  • Spain: Portrait miniatures were used in the Spanish court since the late 15th century, with Francisco Goya as a notable painter
  • United States: The English style of portrait miniatures was exported to the American colonies, with artists like Mary Roberts and Amalia Küssner Coudert
  • Scotland: Andrew Robertson and his brothers created a style of slightly larger portrait miniatures
  • Ireland: Gustavus Hamilton was a successful miniature painter in Dublin

Materials, Techniques, and Displays

  • Early miniatures were painted on vellum, chicken-skin, or cardboard
  • Watercolor on ivory became the standard medium in the 18th century
  • Enamel and copper support were also used in miniature painting
  • Mica was used for costume overlays
  • Museums like the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London display miniature original oil paintings
  • The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. also has a vast collection of portrait miniatures
  • The Astolat Dollhouse Castle is another display venue for portrait miniatures
  • International Biennial of Miniature Art exhibitions are held in Gornji Milanovac, Serbia, and Częstochowa, Poland
  • The Royal Miniature Society Exhibition takes place annually in London, UK

Portrait miniature Data Sources

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