Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Tags
Related Content
Portrait Miniature

A portrait miniature is a small portrait painting that could be placed in a locket or other portable setting and carried.  The media typical for a miniature was gouache, watercolor, or enamel. The support materials are vellum or ivory, sometimes even other materials like paper or cardboard.  Portrait miniatures developed out of the techniques found in illuminated manuscripts, and were popular in the 16th-century spreading across Europe and eventually to the colonies like the United States of America.  The form remained popular until the development of daguerreotypes and photography in the mid-19th century. Miniatures were usually intimate gifts given within the family. They were especially likely to be painted when a family member was going to be absent for significant periods, whether a husband or son going to war or emigrating, or a daughter getting married.