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Miniature

A small and detailed piece of art, usually a portrait, executed in gouache or watercolour. Sixteenth century miniatures were usually painted in body colour on playing cards or on vellum. In the seventeenth century portrait miniatures were sometimes painted in oil on a metal surface. In the eighteenth century the character was changed by the introduction of ivory as a ground, often painted in transparent watercolour.

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Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex
attributed to Hans Holbein the Younger
circa 1532-1533
NPG 6310

Queen Elizabeth I
by Nicholas Hilliard
1572
NPG 108

Peter Oliver
by Peter Oliver
circa 1625-1630
NPG 4853

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Untitled, c.1973 (Alex Chilton) by William Eggleston © Eggleston Artistic Trust

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Links to audio and transcripts of interviews with artists, sitters and historic recordings.

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