I have been really interested in Miniature Portraits lately as I have been working on a couple. I have been reading up on them and the reasons why they were commissioned.
The portrait is one element in an object which was usually part of a piece of jewellery such as a locket that held locks of braided hair and monograms of the sitter’s initials. Miniatures were given as presents to close friends and family, were exchanged during courtship and were the traditional way of commemorating an important event, such as an engagement, marriage or a long separation during wartime or periods abroad. Portrait miniatures were part of memorial jewellery and mourning dress.
The cabinet miniature, had a slightly more public role. When miniatures were hung on walls or were painted to be part of interior decoration they were usually larger and rectangular in shape. They were framed in wooden and gilded frames and arranged in decorative groups or placed in display cabinets. Nevertheless, these displays were usually confined to the most private, informal rooms of a house such as a boudoir or cabinet-room. These rooms were used by family or close friends and thus emphasise the intimate nature of the miniature.By Dr. Paul Caffrey