If you are a miniaturist you know that the most familiar places to view miniatures are the miniature exhibit and sales room, and the few miniature museums that are located in the center of the country. But for those who can’t visit these venues, there are miniatures located in pretty much every museum across the country. This series on museum miniatures will show you how to locate these wonderful examples of miniature work.

The first set of examples are from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Described as the world’s leading museum of art and design, the V&A may not seem like a place you would find many miniatures. But here are some amazing examples. My definition of what counts as a miniature may differ from your but I believe every miniaturist should look at this kind of work.

 

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This German altarpiece from 1520 depicts St. Margaret in a series of tableaux showing her being tortured because she will not renounce Christianity. The design reminds me of a comic book with actions taking place in a series of panels. You can find similar altarpieces in every collection of 16th century art.
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Detail of the figures.

 

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Exquisitely detailed carved 16th century prayer beads are available for viewing in several famous museum. This one is about 2 inches across and like other beads depicts a Biblical scene.

 

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These silver miniatures are presented in the museum as toys, as objects for children. But it is also possible that they were collected by adults or used as examples of craftsmanship.
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Detail, tiny tea set.

 

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A 15th century reliquary (a container holding the remains of a saint) casket, as well as reliquaries in other forms, often have miniatures incorporated. These miniature figures are a few inches tall.

 

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Miniature painted portraits began around the 1520s and became very popular across Europe. These portraits were worn like medals, sometimes representing a loved one or secret love. This one is about 2 inches across.

 

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Carvings of wood and ivory were popular objects favored by wealthy patrons. The piece here is about 16 inches tall and includes detailed carving all around.
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A side view.

 

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This is a house altar from about 1750. I am not sure if these were merely decorative or were used for some ceremonies.

 

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Early 19th century micromosaic. Using up to 5000 pieces (tesserae) make the images look almost painted.
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Many of these mosaics used themes and images from ancient Rome.
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Plaque with basket of flowers, 1825

 

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Model of the state coach, 1760. The full scale version was created during the reign of King George III.

 

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Model of an 18th to 19th century home in Northumberland. Created in 2001.
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Detail of room.

 

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Cork model of the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli, 1770.