Miniature Painting

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What is a miniature painting?

There are many way of defining a miniature painting. Each culture has its own rules. Here we offer some Hilliard Society guidelines towards a definition of miniature painting and the criteria set by the Society: * A high standard of draughtsmanship and composition.

* Mastery of miniature technique in chosen media and palette. * No subject larger than life, portrait head no larger than 2” (5cm). * Frames and mounts must be of high quality, clean and in keeping with the painting. Each of these points is taken into consideration by the judges on Selection Day. The miniature by virtue of its detail and the finest execution of medium must stand up to the closest inspection, whilst at the same time hold its own with good composition and tonal balance when viewed from afar. A wide variety of media is used on surfaces such as paper, Ivorine, Ivorex and others from specialist suppliers. Works also include those of enamellers and engravers. It is the great variety of subjects, media and techniques which serve to keep miniature art alive and a constant delight.

In a top quality miniature every single detail is itself miniaturised, leading the eye down and down, so that with high magnification you may see the immaculate fineness of the brush strokes. A top quality miniature painting may take many hours to finish. The work requires the utmost concentration and very careful planning. Clean and dust-free conditions are essential where even one single grain of dust can present problems, when painting details are measured in parts of millimetres. [Caroline Hayes 1995]

The term miniature relates first of all to technique and identification and only secondly to the size of a painting. One can produce a 12-inch painting which is also a miniature. The size of a miniature is traditionally described as small enough to carry in a person's hand, pocket or bag. But this implies...
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