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THE EDIT

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For Your Eyes Only

Mon Oct 23, 2017

Philip Mould & Co.'s portrait miniatures consultant, Emma Rutherford, will be giving a lecture at Compton Verney art gallery on 23rd November 2017: Secret Stories behind the Portrait Miniature.

So small as to be held in the palm of one’s hand, portrait miniatures miniatures perfectly facilitate a secret exchange and are inherently intimate in nature. From the sixteenth through to the nineteenth century, miniatures were intended to be kept on one's person and often worn - sometimes conspicuously and sometimes the portrait itself was concealed for private consumption. As such highly personal items, they could serve a number functions: clandestine courting devices, diplomatic gifts and tokens of loyalty in royal circles, or simply mementos of loved-ones who were absent either through travel or death.

Portrait miniature of Baptist May (1628-97) c.1660 by Samuel Cooper (1607/8-72), and portrait miniature of a Noblewoman c.1675 by Nicholas Dixon (c.1645 - after 1708) - both © Philip Mould & Company

The portrait miniatures above - currently available at Philip Mould & Co. - are exemplar of the intimacy of the miniature art form and date to the raucous Restoration period. The gentleman in armour is Charles II's close advisor Baptist May, and was painted for- and belonged to - his mistress, Dorothy Broke. The portrait miniature of the noblewoman wearing a pink gown, whose seductive gaze is likely to have been intended for private consumption, would have been for her husband's or lover's eyes only and may have originally been set within a case with a lid.

To book tickets for Secret Stories behind the Portrait Miniature and for more information about the lecture, click here.