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What is miniature painting? This word originated from the Latin minium(vermilion, saturnine red), which was used for illuminations and headpieces in manuscript books.

They were made in water-colors or gouache or even with gold-foil. In medieval Western countries and Byzantine, miniature was especially popular.

The beginning of miniature painting was characterized by Biblical themes while at later periods portraits of statesmen, rich customers, church leaders and commanders started to dominate.

Miniaturists also depicted everyday life and battle scenes, as well as religious and historical themes.

Miniatures are characterized by delicate application of paint. Particularly masterful in this genre are considered artists from Europe, Middle East, Central Asia, Iran and India.

Miniature also applies to portrait paintings. Miniatures were mostly executed on paper, cardboard, parchment, ivory, metal, porcelain. Miniature images used to decorate pendants and medallions, as well as household items such as rings, watches, and snuff boxes. Miniature portraits, normally 15 by20 centimeters in size, were traditionally inherited as family heirlooms. Acme miniatures go back to XVIII century. Since the middle of the XIX century, portrait miniatures have gone out of fashion and superseded by photography.

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Miniature painters

Miniature paintings were created with fine brushes or bird feathers. Among the most renowned miniature painters were the following artists.

Jean Fouquet, a French artist of the 15th century, whose main artwork is the manuscript The Hours of Etienne Chevalier illuminated by him. Biblical theme illuminations from this book were widely recognized as unsurpassed masterpieces. He also created excellent miniatures for The Great Chronicle of France on the request of King Charles V. Equally talented are his military miniatures in the Judean War by Josephus, where the artist showed himself to be a brilliant master of battle scenes.

Simon Marmion is another artist of the 15th century who illuminated The Great Chronicle of France, The Visions of Tondal, and The Book of Hours. Miniatures by this prince of illumination are still treasured by connoisseurs of the genre in our days.

Vladimir Borovikovsky is a Ukrainian artist of late XVIII - early XIX century, who worked in the genre of portrait miniature. The master delicately conveyed the inner world of the heroes, their emotions and character traits.

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Historical miniatures

Masters of the genre from Iran and India also played an important and distinct role in the development of miniature. So the Tabriz school, founded in the early XIV century, became a center of Iranian miniature painting. The miniatures of this school’s artists show themes and heroes from the Persian poetry of that time, as well as court life and everyday scenes.

Modern miniature paintings can be bought on the Jose Art Gallery website.

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