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Portrait miniature - Portrait of an unknown girl

Portrait of an unknown girl

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    Netherlands (possibly, made)
    England (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1650 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on metal

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by R. H. Stephenson

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case RMC, shelf 6, box H

In its strict sense, the word ‘miniature’ describes a technique of painting in watercolour rather than the size of a painting. Miniature painting developed as a separate art in the 16th century and in Britain it became predominantly a portrait art. In Continental Europe, however, the taste for portraits small enough to be carried on the person was often met by artists working within very different artistic traditions. One type of ‘miniature’ (as all such small works are now known), produced more on the Continent than in Britain, was the oil miniature, usually painted on metal. Most of these oil miniatures are, like this one, anonymous, since the art of painting small portraits in oil on metal was not one in which leading artists specialised. More often it was part of a repertoire of portrait styles offered by less well-known oil painters.

One problem with oil miniatures, which probably became apparent quite quickly, is that the varnish often discolours, which results in a darkened effect, as seen in this oil miniature.

Physical description

Oval miniature portrait of a girl, to left and looking to front. The sitter is wearing a pearl necklace around her neck, pearl earring and a blue dress.

Place of Origin

Netherlands (possibly, made)
England (possibly, made)


ca. 1650 (painted)



Materials and Techniques

Oil on metal


Height: 4.5 cm, Width: 3.8 cm

Descriptive line

An unknown girl. Miniature portrait, English or Dutch school, ca.1650.

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

Victoria & Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1952. London: HMSO, 1963.




Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Pearls; Necklace; Girl


Portraits; Paintings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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