The art of painting miniature portraits developed from the skills used in illuminating manuscripts, as this art form became obsolete because of developments in printing and wood cuts these techniques were used in miniature portraits. This paintings gained in popularity from the 16th century onwards until it itself was replaced by the technology of early photography like daguerreotypes. Many people carried miniature portraits of their loved ones and family, much as many of us have photographs of family and friends in our wallets and purses, especially those that travelled like sailors who could be away from home for months or even years. Another common use of portrait miniatures was amongst the nobility where arranged marriages and long distance courtship's were common, miniature portraits of the respective parties could be exchanged over long distances so everyone knew exactly what they were getting into!
Miniatures are painted in a variety of media, including watercolours, gouache, oils and pastels. They can be painted on vellum, board, ivory even some metals. Watercolours are the most common media used.
Silhouettes developed as a budget form of portrait miniatures where an outline of a person, object or animal was draw or cut out of paper and the interior was filled with a solid colour usually black, occasionally highlights were added in white or gilt.
Here at Top Banana we have a couple of dealers who specialise in miniatures and silhouettes and always have a large selection to chose from.