imsewaddicted (imsewaddicted) wrote,

Miniature portraits

I really like 18th century art, and what's better is when it is teeny weeny.

Last summer I was completely enamored with miniature portraits. The whole idea is completely dripping with utter fantasticness. 

Portrait miniatures began to flourish in 16th century Europe and continued throughout the 17th and 18th century. They were especially valuable in introducing people to each other over great distances; a nobleman proposing the marriage of his daughter might send a courier with her portrait to visit potential suitors. Soldiers and sailors might carry miniatures of their loved ones while traveling, or a wife might keep one of her husband while he was away.
The first miniaturists used watercolor to paint on stretched vellum, but in the 18th century miniatures were also painted on ivory and vitreous enamel.  Portraits were often used as personal momentos or as jewelry or snuff box covers.
Notable miniaturists: 
Jean Fouquet  (1420-1481)
Self portrait, 1450

The most important French painter of the 15th century, master of panel painting and manuscript illumination, and the apparent inventor of the portrait miniature.

Lucas Horenbout (1490-1544)
Portrait of Anne Boleyn, 1520
Netherlandish court painter of Henry VIII.

Hans Holbein the Younger  (1497-1543)
Portrait of Jane Small, 1640

Court artist of England, clearly had a crapload of talent.

Levina Teerlinc (1510-1576)
Portrait of Elizabeth I, 1560
Daughter of miniaturist Simon Bening. Court painter to Henry VIII following Hans Holbein the Younger's death.

Nicholas Hilliard  (1547-1619)
Self-portrait, 1577
An English goldsmith, known for his portraits of court members of Elizabeth I. Style was different from most of Europe, conservative in style but executed superb paintings with freshness and charm. The only English painter whose work reflects the world of Shakespeare's earlier plays. Spent some time in France.

Richard Cosway  (1742-1821
Lady in white, 1790
Painted King George IV in 1780 and was appointed Painter to the Prince of Wales in 1785 - the only time this title was ever awarded.

by Richard Crosse (this might as well be a portrait of me - check out that hat!!!)
by Horace Hone
by George Chinnery
by Samuel Shelley
by Richard Cosway

by George Engleheart

Last few pictures above are from this site.

Which brings me to my next point...
I made my own miniature portrait of Charles I of England to go with my 17th century costume (simply because he seemed like a rather handsome fellow). Clearly its not even a fraction of the awesomeness which I've presented earlier, but I really enjoyed making it. I made a cabochon out of Sculpey, which I then baked, painted and glued to a setting. I sewed it to a bow and a pin, and it made a perfect brooch. I'm thinking I'm very likely going to repeat this whole experience with inspiration from a whole mess of portraits that I have accumulated in the last little while. The toughest part is to find a suitable frame to go with it. I would really like to have a nice frame which has a glass front, but those are hard to find. So for now, I'll stick with my painted cabochon.

Image © Edith Chartier 2008

I've found some really cute frames on Etsy and have ordered them. Hopefully they will arrive soon. I can't really start without seeing the exact size of the setting....  *scrog!*


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