Miniature Painting

miniature painting [Ital.,=artwork, especially manuscript initial letters, done with the red lead pigment minium; the word originally had no implication as to size]. In a general sense the term denotes any small, detailed kind of painting, including medieval illumination and much of the finest painting of India and Persia. It is also used to refer to diminutive portraits. Among the earliest European masters of this latter art were Holbein the Younger, Jean Clouet, and Jean Fouquet. English masters famous for their miniatures in the 16th and 17th cent. were Nicholas Hilliard, Isaac Oliver, Samuel Cooper, and Richard Cosway. The early portrait miniatures were executed in a precise, sometimes precious style. Two artists of the 18th cent., the Swede Peter Adolphe Hall and the Venetian Rosalba Carriera, introduced a new freedom of brushstroke, even within the small format. Among those who executed elegant and intimate miniatures in France during the 18th and 19th cent. were Nattier, Fragonard, Boucher, and Isabey. In colonial America, C. W. Peale, Benbridge, Copley, Peter Pelham, and E. G. Malbone were notable exponents of the art. Watercolor on parchment, paper, porcelain, or ivory was the most frequently employed medium for miniatures. The art virtually died with the advent of photography. The Metropolitan Museum, the Louvre, and the Wallace Collection in London have notable collections of miniatures. See articles on individuals, e.g., Nicholas Hilliard and articles on Indian art and architecture and on Persian art and architecture.

See Elvehjem Art Center, Indian Miniature Painting (1971); S. C. Welch, A King's Book of Kings (1972); D. Foskett, Miniatures: Dictionary and Guide (1987).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Miniature Painting: Selected full-text books and articles

Rajput Painting By Sherman E. Lee; George Montgomery Unknown, 1960
The Rohan Book of Hours By Jean Porcher Faber and Faber, 1959
Turkey: Ancient Miniatures By Richard Ettinghausen; M. Ş. IpŞiroǦlu; S. EyuboǦlu New York Graphic Society, 1961
A Handbook of Muhammadan Art By M. S. Dimand Hartsdale House, 1947 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Wall Painting and Miniature Painting"
Painting in Italy: From the Origins to the Thirteenth Century By Lionello Venturi; Bianca Maiuri; Eugenio Battisti; Amedeo Maiuri Albert Skira, 1959
Librarian’s tip: "Miniatures and Mosaics of the 5th Century" begins on p. 97 and "Italy and Byzantium: Miniatures, Mosaics and Paintings of the 6th Century" begins on p. 99
Elephant Composite By Shoemaker, Marla K School Arts, Vol. 96, No. 1, September 1996
Early American Painting By Frederic Fairchild Sherman The Century Co., 1932
Librarian’s tip: Part IV "Miniature-Painters of the Eighteenth And Early Nineteenth Centuries"
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