The art of miniature portraits Antiques 19/06/2024

Among the wide repertoire of antiquities, miniature portraits constitute a special section, which unites the surprising and striking of detail and small format, the artistic, historical and sentimental values of such refined objects and the characters represented. Even the frames can be interesting complements that enrich and highlight the value of the small portraits, from the simplest in papier msché and brass to the most spectacular in gold bronze in the ormolu or to those of precious materials such as gold, silver or sometimes even diamonds. In miniature auction sales it is common to find both excellent miniature portraits of all nationalities and backgrounds, and the simplest or most exquisite original frames. As they are very small objects, it is common for them to have had a traveling existence and it is not uncommon for collectors from all over the world to buy them in London or Paris and bring those jewels to their countries of origin, so it is very easy to find together in a collection, specimens from very diverse schools.

Small artistic memories

In the 16th and 17th centuries miniature portraits were painted in oil on copper and great artists such as El Greco, Vel'zquez or Goya have left us samples of their art in such small sizes. Copper was an appropriate support, but the result with oil paint was not very eye-catching and colors sometimes jumped due to the lack of adherence to the support. Generally those pieces were assembled in precious metals and were worn as hanging jewelry. The emotional and sentimental sense of carrying on or having the image of loved ones close, caused the art of miniature portraits to be increasingly requested.

subastas balclis retrato en miniatura width="641" height="435" />
Probably French school from the late 18th century. Knight and three ladies.
Four gouache miniature portraits with silver frames and pink cut diamonds. 6x4.5cm, the largest.
Balclis, April 2020

subastas de arte blaclis nino con pajaro
Spanish school at the end of the 18th century. Boy with bird.
Thumbnail portrait to gouache with brass frame and mahogany 5 cm.ditm

The great Italian painter Rosalba Carriera is credited in the 18th century with the invention of a new system of making miniature portraits, consisting of painting with gouache and watercolour on a fine plate of ivory. The result is much brighter and more striking and the invention had an immediate implementation among the miniaturists. Other supports also used were parchment and paper. French and English artists between the 18th and 19th centuries showed enormous technical and aesthetic mastery, forming schools with their own stylings. The beautiful portraits they executed occupy a prominent place in the world of antiquities. The first half of the 19th century was also a flourishing period for miniado portraits. Often the authors proudly signed their creations, with lyrics of a size that challenged the best magnifying glasses.

balclis louis marie sicardi damisela
Louis Marie Sicardi. Damisela.
Miniature portrait of the gouache with a frame in carved bronze and gold. With detail of the signature 7x5 cm.
Balclis, May 2024

balclis subastas de arte joven con peineta
Spanish school circa 1830. Young man in paint.
Miniature portrait to gouache with frame hanging in brass cemented 10x7 cm.
Balclis, April 2020

subastas arte joven con tirantes
Probably French school circa 1830. Young man with straps.
Miniature portrait to gouache with frame in gilded wood 7x5.5 cm.
Balclis, June 2019

Photography Appearance

All the European countries will join together artists who stand out in this field and in Spain hub some of the authors who will enjoy remarkable prestige. However, the appearance of photography would replace the progressive condense and the canto del cisne de aquel arte. I include the first photographs of people, by format and characteristics, imitating the hacer modo of the so hungry and habitual miniatures. Aunque quedaron some specialized artists have had the Art Nouveau period, the daguerrotypes and the photography in general fueron los sustitutos mss económicos and that consequently caught the physical rasgos of the models, so that the art of miniature portraits lost their sense. more Some painters or goldsmiths are the ones who have this type of portraits as lush ejemplares and, in a cierta manner, in a shelter from that marvellous secular tradition.

balclis daguerrotipo subastas de arte
English school circa 1850-1860. Couple.
Miniature portrait in daguerreotype (crystal photograph). 12x10 cm.
Balclis, November 2018

balclis subasta miguel soldevilla
Attributed to Miguel Soldevila. Lady.
Miniature portrait on copper, mounted as a pendant with a gold frame.
By 1930. 10.7x8 cm (with frame).
Balclis, June 2019

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