About Miniatures

The word "miniature" is derived from the latin "minium", meaning red lead, which was used for pigment in ancient Roman art, and later by Middle-Ages' artists for the production of fine, detailed ornament and pictures on religious manuscripts of the time. Eventually, the term came to signify any of the tiny, richly detailed paintings on metal, ivory and lacquer that became very prevalent in Europe from XVIII century onward. Being so conveniently small and ornamental, miniature paintings became an opportunity to integrate pieces of art on any sort of everyday object for people rich enough to afford it. Before the invention of photography, easily carriable miniature portraits were about the only way to show a person's face across long distances, and were widely used for arranged marriages.

In the XVIII century, Russia developed its own, wholly unique variety of miniature art, strongly inspired by the country's simple folk lifestyle and folklore. Russian miniaturists became masters of miniature painting on lacquer, where the artist carefully applies oil colors layer by layer, each separated by yet another application of lacquer, until an exceptional level of life and detail is reached.

Today, miniature art draws a keen interest from art-lovers and collectors worldwide, and works showing especially high levels of precision and detail are greatly valued.

Caring for miniatures

A few common precautions for miniature-owners, to keep the pieces looking bright and new:

  • Handle them gently. Avoid finger marks on the piece by always holding it by its sides.
  • Avoid dropping or scratching the piece. Use very smooth cloth to clean.
  • Don't store your piece where it would be exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Keep away from excessive heat, cold or moisture.

All Contents © 2007 Irina Kouznetsova.