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Portrait miniature with mica overlays - Portrait of an unknown woman

Portrait of an unknown woman

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature with mica overlays

  • Place of origin:

    Netherlands (possibly, painted)

  • Date:

    second half 17th century (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on copper with a painted mica overlay

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs E. C. Ellis

  • Museum number:

    P.144 to Q-1931

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is an example of an unusual amusement that came into fashion after about 1650. It consists of an oil miniature painted on copper and set in a leather case. Accompanying the miniature are a number of costume details painted in opaque colour on slivers of transparent mineral known at the time as ‘talc’. In fact, the little costume sheets are pieces of mica. This is a mineral that splits easily into thin yet very tough and flexible flakes, as transparent as glass. These ‘talcs’ matched the oil miniature in shape and size, so that the owner could dress up the subject in different costumes by laying on the ‘talcs’ one at a time. We do not know where these miniatures were manufactured, but they are found throughout Europe. They could be accompanied by as many as 20 different talcs.

Physical description

Portrait miniature of an unknown woman, oil on copper with a painted mica costume overlay.

Place of Origin

Netherlands (possibly, painted)

Date

second half 17th century (painted)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Oil on copper with a painted mica overlay

Dimensions

Height: 88 mm case, Width: 70 mm Case (closed), Width: 143 mm case (open)

Descriptive line

Portrait miniature of an unknown woman, informally known as 'Catherine of Braganza', oil on copper with a painted mica costume overlay. Anonymous, Dutch, 17th century.

Materials

Oil colour; Copper; Mica

Techniques

Painting

Subjects depicted

Portrait

Categories

Portraits

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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