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Portrait miniature - An unknown woman, said to be the Duchesse de Châteauroux, holding a miniature set in a bracelet
  • An unknown woman, said to be the Duchesse de Châteauroux, holding a miniature set in a bracelet
    Chasselat, Pierre, born 1753 - died 1814
  • Enlarge image

An unknown woman, said to be the Duchesse de Châteauroux, holding a miniature set in a bracelet

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    France (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    1780s (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Chasselat, Pierre, born 1753 - died 1814 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on ivory

  • Museum number:

    P.54-1941

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case RMC, shelf 9, box H

Miniature painting originally referred to the art of painting in watercolour on vellum (fine animal skin). It developed in the early 16th century out of the tradition of illuminating manuscripts (hand-written books). In England, miniature was predominantly a portrait art. It was practised by specialist miniature painters, such as Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619). On the Continent, miniature painting as a portrait art had a few great practitioners, such as the French painter Jean Clouet (1516?-1572). But not even Clouet was a specialist. Like Hans Holbein, he worked both in miniature and in large in oil.

In France, it was not until the 1770s that a notable school of portrait miniaturists emerged. It was only then that they were able to rival English ones, such as Richard Cosway (1742-1821) and John Smart (1742-1811). Like Cosway and Smart, these French artists worked in watercolour on ivory.

In the early 18th century ivory began to replace vellum as a support for miniature painting. It was introduced by Rosalba Carriera (1675-1757), a Venetian artist. Its use developed in distinct ways in England and on the Continent. In continental Europe, and especially in France, Carriera's method of using opaque 'gouache' (watercolour mixed with white) was influential. She exploited the ivory primarily by leaving the face transparent. In contrast, by the 1770s artists of the English School tended towards transparent pigments. They very rarely used gouache.

Physical description

Portrait miniature of an unknown woman, said to be the Duchesse de Châteauroux, holding a miniature set in a bracelet, watercolour on ivory. She is seated on a blue and gold chair with a small dog beside her, holding a quilled pen in its mouth

Place of Origin

France (probably, painted)

Date

1780s (painted)

Artist/maker

Chasselat, Pierre, born 1753 - died 1814 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on ivory

Dimensions

Diameter: 74 mm

Descriptive line

Portrait miniature of an unknown woman, said to be the Duchesse de Châteauroux, holding a miniature set in a bracelet, watercolour on ivory, painted by Pierre Chasselat (1753-post 1814).

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1941, London: HMSO, 1954.

Materials

Watercolour; Ivory

Techniques

Painting

Subjects depicted

Miniature; Dog; Quill

Categories

Portraits; Paintings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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