Posted by: Wes and Rachelle Siegrist | December 4, 2011

Endorsements and Testimonials

Endorsements on Modern Masters of Miniature Art in America:

“As an introduction to the definitions and philosophies that guide contemporary miniature painters, Modern Masters is an important addition to the published histories of miniature painting in America, and a valuable record of recent developments in the five-hundred-year-old tradition of painting small independent images. A complementary section of statements prepared by individual miniaturists offers personal perspectives on the artworks and the mediums, surfaces, and techniques used to make them. Through the efforts of Wes Siegrist and the members of the MAA, a comprehensive, multi-faceted view of the modern practice of an historic art form has been achieved.”
Carol Aiken, Ph.D., Portrait miniature conservator and scholar

“Erudite and highly readable, this book by Wes Siegrist is the tour de force of miniature books. Encompassing every how, why, where, when and who, it should be an essential read for all artists, collectors, scholars and lovers of fine art. It is an astounding achievement.”
Carmela Arturi and Roger Frederick Phillips, Authors, miniature art collectors: http://www.portraitminiature.blogspot.com

“It was very interesting to read the history, much of which was new to me. … Lacking painting skill, I resorted to collecting miniature portraits. That led to my Artists and Ancestors website which displays my collection and has brought me into contact with owners of miniature portraits around the world, both collectors and those preserving miniatures of their ancestors. The website endeavours to spread knowledge of the art form and illustrate the thrills of researching artists and sitters, in effect preserving the past. I confess that portraits are my prime interest and I now get many emails on the subject, with all sorts of questions, and it being surprising how many people had never known such things existed. Those still possessing miniatures of their ancestors are universally proud of them. One sadness is that so few miniature portraits are painted of the present generation, to become cherished family heirlooms of the future. In an age of throw away consumerism, it is great to see Wes Siegrist explaining and encouraging the art form. I hope that his enthusiasm will encourage parents and others to commission new family portraits. Recently I commissioned three miniatures of my children from one of the featured artists, Irina Kouznetsova, and they are already prized family treasures.”
Don Shelton, Author, miniature art collector: http://www.portrait-miniature.blogspot.com

The Author, and the Miniature Artists of America Society, welcome your feedback and endorsements. Please send comments to Wes Siegrist at siegrist@artofwildlife.com

Testimonials on Modern Masters of Miniature Art in America:

“The Book was an enormous undertaking with amazingly fine results. You particularly mention scope in your letter and that is indeed what it has. I have always read a great deal in Art History and continue to do so. “Modern Masters” has a huge scope in the inclusions. It is likely the most inclusive book on the subject of Miniature Art so far! Artists and collectors hold much in their hands with it. The past and the present are both speaking clearly through the general text and the biographies which show varied backgrounds and ages in the membership. There is much value in young artists looking at the field as a worthy pursuit. That in itself is reason enough to consider it a valuable tool. We who are involved in the miniature surely hope it will continue into the future.

The word miniature often seems to infer less, not as important etc. than larger work. Reading this book will have to change that kind of thinking, finally! Fine Art comes in all sizes, mediums and execution and it needing saying in such an exceptional way. … Carry On, you’re doing a Grand Job!!” ~ Demaris Olson in CA, USA

“I just wanted to let you know that, after gifting four “Modern Masters” books to members of my family, I received e-mails and phone calls lauding the historical significance of miniature art. Everyone loved the book and will treasure it.

I feel very proud to be included and applaud your efforts and their amazing results. Beside the group of beautifully represented artists, the history of miniature art was most educational and thorough. It was fascinating reading for me as well even though I am, of course, somewhat familiar with the history on the subject.

You and all the other volunteers did a tremendous job and I can only add that your aim was achieved. I am thrilled to have this book in my art library. Thank you, Wes, for a wonderful job.” ~ John M. Angelini in FL, USA

“When I first received Modern Masters of Miniature Art in America, I wrote a thank you for all the time, thought, and energy you put into writing, researching, and publishing it. Now, having read and savored it, I must write to tell you what a profoundly important book this is to me. Prior to reading it, I knew nothing about the history or traditions of miniature art. I had never met another miniature artist. The awareness and understanding of this art form and the wonderful collection of quotes are tremendous gifts. The section of the book with images of the artists in their studios with their works of art and an essay in their own words was a communication I had longed for. Their expressions of joy, philosophy, inspiration, passion, technique, and problem solving offered a wealth of insights and wisdom. … Thank you for having the determination, wisdom, vision, and insight to create this most important book.” ~ Sue Wall in NY, USA

“I am so delighted with the MAA book!!! I can’t imagine how many hours were spent on its’ creation but the quality of the result is outstanding. Thank you [Wes] and your assistants for making me so proud to be a part of it.” ~ Gail MacArgel in MO, USA

“This book is a wonderful addition to the modern miniaturist’s library. In addition to technique and history, the reader is treated to biographies of 21st century miniature artists in a successful presentation of miniature fine art – then and now. Modern Masters continues what Sue Burton started.” ~ Debra Keirce in VA, USA

“To Wes and the gang who worked so hard on the Masters of Modern Miniatures my everlasting thanks!!! Words can not express my appreciation for the great amount of effort and thought that Wes put into creating this wonderful tome. I have just finished reading through the first part of the book and it took several hours. It is extremely well written and thoughtfully assembled. Lots of food for thought! My husband downloaded it to the computer last night. I will be reading over the individual artists histories with great interest. I plan to buy a number of hard copies to give as gifts. I am looking forward to seeing what this book accomplishes for the field of miniature art in the coming years. It is my opinion that there is a greater number of artists creating great miniatures than at any period in the history of the world. I realize there are more people in the world and we have better access to create but I also feel man is reaching out to something more than machines and there is a bright future. Thanks again Wes!” ~ Bev Abbott in VA, USA

Posted by: Wes and Rachelle Siegrist | December 4, 2011

About & Order

About the Book and How to Order a Copy

This book extensively covers the subject of miniature art tracing the history, etymology and miniature art societies from the earliest beginnings to the present day. Published in conjunction with the Miniature Artists of America’s 25th Anniversary, the book features the work of 53 of the Society’s Signature Members from around the world with their own thoughts on miniatures and on their career. Over 210 photos of miniature art, miniaturists in their studios and exhibitions grace the pages.

Hardback, 6 x 9 inches, 268 pages, 214 color photographs, cited historical quotes pertaining to miniature art

$67.60 plus shipping/handling/tax as applicable

Also available as a PDF download for FREE at: http://lulu.com/spotlight/siegrist or via Google Books.

This book is also available as an ePub Book via the Lulu Store above and at the iBookstore. You may also read the scholarly portions of the book via this blog: https://miniaturepainter.wordpress.com

ISBN: 978-0-9821278-3-4

Author: Wes Siegrist

Foreword by: Kay Petryszak

Published by: Wes Siegrist

STATUS: Available at several locations online for free download/reading. Available only from the printer in hardcopy: http://stores.lulu.com/siegrist

The following fifty-three MAA Signature Members are featured inside the book:
Abbott, Beverly – VA 2008
Angelini, John – FL 1986
Argyros, Chrysoula – South Africa 2007
Barnes, Kim – MD 1998
Boyers, Anita – MO 1996
Boyers, Camille – MO 1997
Boyers, Jean – MO 1993
Chadwell, Mary – NV* (Lifetime Member)
Downs, Douglas – CA 1996
Farrell, Alan – England 2005
Friday, Katherine – OR 1992
Ganz, Tykie – FL* (Lifetime Member)
Gruizinga, Fred – Germany 1989
Hamilton, Merril – UT 1990
Hargraves, Charles – Canada 1998
Haynes, Richard – NJ 1987
Hegler, Mimi – MD 2003
Jansen, Kimberly – NM 2006
Kennealy, Charmian – So. Africa 1995
Koenig, Dave – MI 1992
Kouznetsova, Irina – Canada 2009
Laird-Lagassee, Janet – ME 1996
Liverman, Doris – FL 1990
Lubeck, Gerald – VT 1989
MacArgel, Gail – MO 2007
Marsh, Myra – NM 2003
Milhalik, Jane – MD* (Lifetime Member)
Mitchell, Dean – MO 1991
Mullane, Jeanette – OR 2001
Mundy, William P. (Bill) – England 1992
Nece, Melissa Miller – FL 2008
Olson, Demaris – CO 1995
Parker, Colleen – UT 1992
Penn, Ruth – MD 2006
Petryszak, Kay – FL 1990
Pierson, Rosalind – England 2001
Plummer, Carlton – MA 1986
Puttergill, Pat – South Africa 2006
Rockwell, Carol – FL 1996
Rossin, Linda – NJ 2005
Rowsell, Joyce – England 2004
Sellers, H. Francis – UT 2001
Sharbaugh, Evelyn – PA 1998
Siegrist, Rachelle – TN 2004
Siegrist, Wes – TN 2004
Strubel, Klaus – FL 2009
Temple, Violet – Canada 1992
Toole, Lois Salmon – OH 1992
Touliatos, Markissia – FL 2002
Tweed, Charlie – FL 2009
Von Stetina, Laura – FL 1997
Waldron, Wayne – IN 2007
Whitaker, Rita – England 2007
Author Wes Siegrist

Wes Siegrist

  About the Author

Wes Siegrist, alongside his wife, Rachelle, is an American miniature painter.  He currently serves as the Archivist and Historian for the Miniature Artists of America Society.  He is additionally active with other miniature and fine art societies serving on the Board of Directors for the Miniature Artists of America and the Society of Animal Artists.  Siegrist regularly lectures at museums and art centers on the topic of miniature art history and the present scope of the genre.  He and his wife currently have a solo museum exhibition of fifty of their miniature paintings touring museums around the United States.

Wes Siegrist Lecturing on Miniature Art

The author lecturing on miniature art history at the R.W. Norton Art Gallery in Shreveport, LA (May 2010)

Posted by: Wes and Rachelle Siegrist | December 4, 2011

Foreword

Modern Masters of Miniature Art in America book

Foreword by Kay Petryszak

Miniature Artists of America (MAA), founded in Clearwater, Florida in 1985, is the first organization in the United States established to honor outstanding practitioners in the field of American miniaturism. Signature Members are elected each year into a lifetime membership and may signify this honor by placing ‘MAA’ following their names. At the early MAA founding meetings, most persons attending assumed that all of the elected Signature Members would reside in the United States. Within three years it became apparent that many skilled, professional miniature artists were entering the USA miniature art society exhibitions and met qualifications to become MAA Signature Members. Many of our artist friends, from foreign lands, would attend the shows. They began to demonstrate, give helpful suggestions to the artists, lecture and provide educational information on the history of miniature art. At this time very few American miniaturists were educated on this genre of ‘art in little’. Who better to learn from than the artists from the countries that, for centuries, have already lived through it, written books about it and their artists knew how to paint in a traditional miniature technique! Some of these foreign artist friends were teaching miniature art and were encouraging their students to enter the miniature society shows in the USA.

2010 marked the 25th Anniversary of MAA. It would seem that the organization is still in its infancy. The society has been fortunate to have had numerous extremely gifted miniature artists, visionaries and supporters from its fruition. Charles W. (Wally) Curtis chaired a task force to establish this organization and was the MAA founder. Wally was one of the first visionaries to start the society forward at a rapid pace. He was not an artist but devoted a quarter of a century of his time and energy to MAA and the resurgence of miniature art in America. Margaret Hicks, past President of the Miniature Painters, Sculptors, & Gravers Society of Washington, DC, was often heard saying: “If every society had a Wally Curtis, everyone in the world would know about miniature art”.

Lewis Hoyer Rabbage was the MAA Archivist for ten years. He died, in 1995, at the age of sixty-three. He had an avid interest in researching and collecting miniature art, but his focus was mainly on the revival period of miniaturism, ca. 1890-1940, particularly since little research had been published about this period. His research papers were given to the Worcester Art Museum and he was acknowledged by the Museum for his contributions to the body of knowledge in regard to the revival period. The question arose – who will carry on this torch of knowledge, research and provide the continuity that is needed for the progression of this important genre?

Wes Siegrist, MAA, another visionary and miniature artist, enters the scene with eagerness, enthusiasm and youth on his side. He started to read historical documents and books on miniature art and have discussions with other miniature artists to try and understand what everyone thought on the subject. His research took him to places that many before him had not gone because they did not have these resources. Wes, being an intelligent and resourceful person, used the computer to access books that are no longer in print, but can now be read online. He soon came to learn that there were many conflicting ideas, definitions and thoughts on this interesting art.

Thoughts about producing a book featuring current living MAA miniature artists and their works had been discussed for the past several years. Wes suggested combining this artist segment with his research to produce one book encompassing past historical facts with artists currently practicing the genre. The MAA Board agreed that this would be a wonderful project to commemorate MAA’s 25th anniversary and provide the continuity needed for the progression of miniature art. Wes, a talented artist and great scholar, wanted to clarify and understand some past meanings, or thoughts, of scholars and artists. He set about to explore, face and suggest possible solutions to problems that have plagued miniaturists throughout the centuries. Wes has sought out, and listened to, both sides of many controversial topics on miniature art, involving size, scale, techniques and definition. He never shied from these discussions and chose, rather, to meet them head on seeking conversations which presented opposite views. Along the way he worked with others and founded the Association of Miniature Artists (AMA). Throughout the inquiries, he kept an open mind and tried to gather facts and information. He listened, contemplated, reasoned – and concluded. His wisdom seems beyond his years, his methods are professional and he sets a high standard of excellence for his own visions and goals. Thank goodness for all the numerous handwritten letters and typed documents, from the antiquated typewriter, to record the past history. And now, we thank Wes that much of this history has been digitally preserved in the MAA archives.The countless hours and thought that Wes has spent on the topical section of this book, demonstrates his passion for telling the whole story.

Wes was smitten by miniatures relatively early in his artistic career and youth has worked to his advantage. The world has been propelled through an unbelievable amount of advanced, high technology of communication. This era of electronic education has produced the iGeneration with information available immediately and interconnected to everyone around the world. It is not unusual today to open your email on one day and find messages regarding miniature art from five different countries. Surely, it is a small world and getting smaller. It’s like a tsunami of technology which has suddenly swept us away. Wes has embraced these modern changes and enjoyed the benefits of this technology. His scholarly approach and research is of the highest merit and should be seen as an important step to understanding this genre and the need to preserve it for posterity. Many learned people believed that when the internet became prevalent in the mid 1990’s, it would result in less reading and less books. The desire for reading books has not disappeared but how we obtain and read books has changed. The thirst for knowledge remains alive and active today. The MAA hopes this book will quench the thirst for present day and future miniaturists, collectors and scholars. Being a practicing miniature artist has also helped Wes to better understand this art form. It is apparent that Wes has undeniably reached his goal to inform, educate and introduce new thoughts and advancement to the miniature world, and has established himself as a significant historian.

Rachelle Siegrist, MAA, wife of Wes, is an excellent, practicing miniature artist and has served well as his sounding board. Speaking of visionaries and lofty dreams, this couple has boldly stepped out with making their livelihood by painting miniatures and becoming part of miniature history. It is remarkable, with their relatively young ages of thirty-nine and forty-four; they have a one man/one woman tour of their miniatures traveling to many museums throughout the United States. I liken Wes and Rachelle to one of the most fascinating, glamorous and successful couples of the late 18th and early 19th century, Richard and Maria Cosway. According to history, Maria had great charisma as well as great talent. Rachelle shares the same attributes of being charming, and talented. Both Wes and Rachelle are also successful, humble and extremely interested in preserving wildlife, their habitat and our natural environment. They are the young visionary team that is needed today to pass on the love and passion of miniature art.

Another excellent miniature artist and contributor, working on this book, is Janet Laird-Lagassee, MAA. Janet has a great insight into all aspects of miniature art as well as a great gift and talent to edit, keeping the main thought in place. Janet’s main task has been to communicate and coordinate information from the artists on his/her page in this book. Electronic technology has enabled Janet to immediately provide information to artists.

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” Sarah Ban Breathnach states this in her book, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. As previously stated, MAA has had many dreamers and visionaries. Some have been listed but others made significant contributions of time, ideas and energy. Many we have lost but still love and remember. We are indebted to these early pioneers and active participants. They have provided strength, inspiration, encouragement and visions which are carried forth by today’s visionaries: as evident within the pages of this book.

Ralph Waldo Emerson stated: “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” This book has been an enormous project for MAA and has developed into a project beyond our original aspirations. Are we in the ‘Running’ stage now and our ‘Marathon’ yet ahead? We certainly hope this to be true. What an enormous privilege it has been, over the past three decades, to have worked with hundreds of miniature artists, numerous miniature societies and art supporters around the world.

It is also important to acknowledge the support of the many non-artists, and spouses, who have contributed to the success of this society by their encouragement and sacrifices. Without the love and support of my husband, Mike Petryszak, many things would not have been possible: his assistance with computer tasks, photographic skills, mailing hundreds of MAA entries to the World Federation of Miniaturists’ exhibitions, and hand carrying the MAA traveling exhibition, consisting of six panels, to Australia for a three-week viewing at the Florida Pavilion during the Summer Olympics at Sydney, Australia. There are so many other things too numerous to list. I have so appreciated that he has continually been by my side with all my endeavors and encouraged me to reach and obtain many of my aspirations, dreams and goals for miniature art.

Optimism abounds for the future of miniature art. Advanced electronic technology is at the fingertips of the youth of today who are accustomed to viewing art on a monitor rather than in person. We hope that this book will have stirred up enough interest that people will begin to search for places to see real, actual exhibitions. The MAA Traveling Exhibit schedule is posted on its website and perhaps some of the locations will be close for many newcomers to visit. Once an artist or art supporter sees a physical show the ‘wow’ factor sets in. Questions abound like: How do they do that? Are these photographs? What kind of brushes are they using? Visitors leave saying that this is an amazing, unbelievable form of art and it beckons them to return year after year.

It is the hope, desire and vision of MAA that this book will be introduced and used as a reference for high school art classes and art history classes at the colleges. Through this book, MAA has left a legacy and challenge to youth to review and remember the heritage of miniature art and to remain true to the foundations of the art form. They have the ability and talent to continue this miniature revival period with their vitality and energy. The duty of MAA is to encourage and provide the amateur artist with enough information, interest and stimulus to become a skilled professional, in order to propagate this valuable genre.

Kay Petryszak, President, Miniature Artists of America

Posted by: Wes and Rachelle Siegrist | December 4, 2011

Preface

Modern Masters of Miniature Art in America book

Preface:  Miniature in a Box?

In writing a book on miniature art, the centuries’ old question still vexes us: What constitutes a miniature? While this question, in today’s context, will be addressed in the following pages, emphasis should be placed upon the great variety and flexibility encompassing the genre of miniature art. It has mirrored the artistic trends of its day and evolved to meet widespread changes. The matter of constructing a simple mental box to hold the definition has proved elusive over time with the ever changing shape of that box adapting to the perceived definition of miniature. Even if the concept of a box had been replaced with a bag for greater flexibility at times specifics in the genre would have had difficulty being squeezed inside. While admitting this impossibility of including everything, two points to emphasize that are often overlooked by the box and bag stuffers are that the quest demonstrates the belief such a container/definition exists despite the inability to perfectly construct it, and secondly, that there is an obvious and abundant range of works acknowledged to not fit or belong inside such a box/bag.

An injustice is done to limit past terminology with contemporary meaning and the same holds true in reverse. Time changes all things presenting the challenge to determine what is timeless with respect to giving proper meaning to a definition that covers a wide range of understanding. Today’s miniaturists have opportunities never imagined by the originators of the genre including formal societies dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the art form overseen by a World Federation of Miniaturists established to foster communication between these societies and an association of individual miniaturists holding to a standard definition. Additionally, the digital age of instant global communication provides limitless avenues for marketing to a worldwide audience and networking across the oceans. Today’s miniaturists also face a multifaceted onslaught of competition from competing namesakes of small works, ever increasing demands from hectic lifestyles and a general apathy among youth for pursuit of any form of art production or collection.

This book represents specifically the present state of miniature art in America, and, generally, the international scope. It begins with an overview of the genre culminating in the presentation of many of the Signature Members of the world’s only society founded to honor outstanding miniaturists. Their own words will prove quite enlightening for peers, collectors and scholars. My goal in this production will have been met if the book leaves you longing for more and eager to seek out these gems of the art world in person!

Wes Siegrist, Historian, Miniature Artists of America

Posted by: Wes and Rachelle Siegrist | December 4, 2011

Chapter 13: Conclusions and Thoughts of the Future of the Genre

Modern Masters of Miniature Art in America book

Conclusions and Thoughts of the Future of the Genre

Miniature art today is approaching a critical, yet exciting, dimension as a genre. The historical timeline has shown successive waves of influence and productivity that ebbed and flowed corresponding with the generations of the leading proponents of the art. The leadership of today’s miniature art societies has at hand the prospects of developing new styles, dissemination of information more efficiently than ever before and the increased recognition for the merits of contemporary miniature art by the academia. In the past few decades, they have solidified their guidelines and expectations and have set forth shining examples of ideal works via their exhibitions and permanent collections.

Lack of youth and innovative newcomers remain the key threat to the longevity and vitality of the miniature movement. Various efforts to cater and appeal to their participation have fallen short. Elevating the prestige and recognition of miniature art and the financial rewards of participation are perhaps the best hope which is hinging upon the efforts of a few dedicated leaders and volunteers facing the monumental task. They, and the cultured minority of miniaturists, must become the interpreters and educators to the public, leading by example in the quality of their work and infecting those who interact with them and their work with the same enthusiasm with which the love of miniatures overwhelmed them.[i] It is imperative that they continue to delineate between miniatures and small works and emphasize that although all miniatures should be fine art, not all very small fine art can be recognized as miniature.[ii] Some fine art, based solely on attributes of technique, cannot be translated into miniature without making nonsense of the genre. Such a work incorporates aspects of miniatures, but as an art object, is not considered a miniature.Consider a modern art piece of nothing more than a single colored canvas or a simple geometric sculpture. Such a work, based solely on diminutive size, is unbecoming of the established miniature genre which has expectations regarding all three components: technique, size and scale. The genre has inherent limitations based upon its format and scale that challenge artists seeking to pursue the art. Such challenges pose no real threat to artistic masters in conventional size when they meet them.[iii] As Stephen Doherty, editor for American Artist Magazine, noted:

I think I can speak with some authority when I say that some of the most talented artists at work in the country today are intrigued with the challenge of working in a miniature scale, and are satisfied with the intimate nature of their artistic expressions. M. Stephen Doherty [iv]

Those with aspirations of pursuing a career in miniature art today face the same artistic challenge as in 1850-1860 with mechanical processes cornering the low end market for art and the high end remaining dominated by styles that are far easier to produce  than the tedious and laborious efforts of ideal miniature art. Most will choose to pursue miniature art alongside another career or production in art. The number of societies dedicated to miniature art, as well as the overall number of participating miniaturists, has waned in recent years. Attrition due to advancing age of members and defection to more profitable or easier to produce genres is outpacing newcomers despite clear improvements on behalf of guiding leaders. Just as noted over a century ago, the movement would benefit from more uniformity and clarification of its ideals.[v]The insightfulness to pursue miniatures as a niche, realizing the inability to please everyone, leads to success and posterity, and the hope is that the self-sacrifices made by individuals willing to work within the miniature’s restrictive format on behalf of the common good, is palatable enough to merit the necessary changes.

The internet has become an indispensable tool for miniaturists of the 21st century as both an essential means of education and collaboration. Surely, all the competing art forms laying claim to the title of miniature, would have swallowed the historic genre had it not been for the defensive lines established by the websites of the miniature art societies and the peer-to-peer exchanges in the online forums and behind-the-scenes emails. Miniature art society websites and those of individual miniaturists have begun to more proactively educate about the genre via listings of information and history, specific pertinent quotes and samples of quality miniature work, but they still remain more static in function. Two online forums are presently dedicated to miniature art: Wet Canvas/Miniature Art and the Yahoo Miniature Art Forum.[vi]Wet Canvas, founded in 2005, embraces all forms of small art with no emphasis on technique or regards to affiliation with formal miniature art societies. The Yahoo Forum, founded by Jim Smith and Vicki Taute in 2003, by contrast, aligns itself with formal societies and exhibits following their guidelines. The Yahoo group formulated and adopted the Association of Miniature Artists standard definition for miniature and uses it as a basis for foundation and mutual consensus. Unlike Wet Canvas which is solely a process of dialogue exchange, the Yahoo Forum has dedicated sections for files containing reference materials: suggested books, supplies, show applications and links to pertinent websites. In addition to the usual image albums of members’ works are those highlighting studio/workspaces; references for techniques of style, matting, framing and historical samples; and individual albums featuring images of exhibitions around the world. Both of these groups have been instrumental in educating peers and encouraging new participants in the miniature genre.

Miniaturists of the digital age cannot even conceive of the technological advances that will be made in their lifetimes that will impact the production and marketing of their art. Just as the miniature painter Rembrandt Peale noted in 1857 that the daguerreotype and print photography had killed bad miniature painting while stimulating artists to emphasize the strengths of their productions, these modern achievers will find ways of championing the works of their hands over the machines.[vii]

The greatest advantage to the pursuit of miniature art is the ability of an artist to pursue the work with minimal studio space and comparatively low overhead expense in materials. Framing, shipping and the daily conduct of business are also a minor fraction of that with conventional scaled work. Undoubtedly, the sole pursuit of miniatures as a lucrative financial career is nigh impossible with the modern cost of living, competitive art market and relatively low price points of miniature work. Career success has been attained by a few today that emphasize niche marketing and diligent attention to the unique qualities of miniatures. The words of old still ring true today: “Men and women can afford miniatures when the oil portrait seems beyond their purse.”[viii]

Dudley Heath, proclaimed of the late 19th to early 20th centuries, the exponential growth of miniaturists alone did not constitute a renaissance.[ix] He knew future success was not contingent upon numbers but rather quality, and that a few dedicated leaders and talented exponents of the art could make the lasting impression required upon future generations to maintain the legacy of the genre. Such are the individuals rising to the occasion today. Their efforts, mostly out of the public eye, will bear significant results in time. May this book inspire and promote, but above all show the love for the genre held by those who practice it. In the words of scholar, Roy Strong “Long may it flourish as a genre!”[x]


*Addendum

The content below has been added by the author as pertinent to the reader with the subject of the specific chapter. If you are a MAA Signature Member and have information relevant for this, or any other chapter, please contact the author.

– On page 97 of Modern Masters of Miniature Art in America, I placed an old photograph at the top of the page. The gentleman in that photo is Alfred Praga, founder and President of the Society of Miniaturists, c. 1900. Here is a link to a silent film of him in 1927 painting a miniature: http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=9916 (He apparently softened his stance on the use of magnifying glasses as he aged.)


[i] Heath. Miniatures., 231.

[ii] Siegrist. Exquisite Miniatures by Wes & Rachelle Siegrist., 50.

[iii] Wehle. American Miniatures., 1.

[iv] Miniature Art Society of Florida (MASF). MASF Exhibition Catalogue. 1985, 18.

[v] “The American Society of Miniature Painters.” Public Opinion Vol. XXVIII. (NY: 1900), 246.

[vi] The Wet Canvas Forum < http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=219&gt; and The Yahoo Miniature Art Forum <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/miniatureart/&gt; accessed 7.2009.

[vii] The Crayon Vol.4, Part 2 (February 1857), 44. <http://www.daguerre.org/resource/texts/portrait.html&gt; accessed 10.2009.

[viii] Kay. “The Miniator’s Art.”, 332.

[ix] Heath. Miniatures., 226.

[x] William P. Mundy. Portrait Miniatures 2, (Henley-on-Thames, UK: Mundy, 2006) n.pag.

Posted by: Wes and Rachelle Siegrist | December 4, 2011

Introduction

Modern Masters of Miniature Art in America book

Artists working in miniature pursue a specialized art, unique and distinct among all others that entered the broad world of art as a new genre in the early 16th century.[i] From the genre’s inception to the present day, miniatures have been integrally associated with specific techniques, diminished format and reduced scale. The history of miniature art traces its origins to multiple precedents which evolved into a new genre. This art form continues to adapt and transform with time forcing individuals attempting to encapsulate it by definition to do likewise to remain current. Despite the varied nuances in form, there remain static guideposts that are essential to any attempt to define miniature art, especially from the 16th century to the present day, and understanding the streams of development and the nuances of the genre’s evolution are imperative for grasping the basics of what constitutes a miniature.[ii]<

In the milieu of confusing etymological derivations, the usage of miniature as a descriptive term for the unique genre was almost immediately aligned with small size and reduced scale.[iii]GiorgioVasari, Renaissance art historian, noted around the year 1550, that Don Giulio Clovio was exceptional as a miniatore, or a painter of small things.[iv] The first attested time the word miniature was used in English to describe an art form was in the 16th century in the writings of Sir Philip Sidney, d. 1586. He contrasted the life-sized reflections of women playing in the water with the miniature reflections of them in the bubbles created by the splashing.[v]An earlier usage of the term miniature in French can also be found in the book Les Ouevres by Pierre de Ronsard. Within the footnote commentary by Marc-Antoine de Muret, he notes that the proboscis of the Crane Fly resembles in miniature the trunk of an elephant; a comparison equating small scale or size with the term miniature prior to 1585 when he died.[vi]

These qualities were general and implicit to the nature of the art and one must be cautious not to apply rigid framework to early understanding. Successive generations of artists working in the genre adhered to these qualities without the conscious regard of today. They did not follow society guidelines or show rules outlined in a prospectus but simply worked in the way associated with their genre by their peers and, to a large degree, dictated by their buying public and intended function.

The congealing of meaning with respect to miniature came more from reactions to outside influences than conscious decisions by practicing miniaturists. Competition from rival art forms, and later photography, altered the genre even to the point of pushing the inferred boundaries. Styles reflected contemporary trends to meet popular demand, sizes reflected changes in surfaces and scale was influenced by composition. Twenty-first century miniaturists, and their representative societies, face even greater challenges than their predecessors with respect to their cherished genre’s identity. Late revival period efforts to appeal to a broader market and encompass more fine art styles have proved a formidable task for establishing parameters of definition.[vii]—


[i] J. L. Propert. The History of Miniature Art. (London, 1887), 45; Katherine Coombs. “From Limning to Miniature: The Etymology of the Portrait Miniature.” (PDF/Email to author – pending publication as of 6.2010); Judith Dunn. “English Portrait Miniatures 1525-1810.” New England Antiques Journal (MA: NAJ, Nov. 2009) 24; Pamela Pierrepont Bardo. English & Continental Portrait Miniatures: The Latter-Schlesinger Collection. (NOMA, 1978), 10.

[ii] Joshua James Foster. Chats on Old Miniatures. (New York: Stokes, 1908), 45; Sue Burton. The Techniques of Paintings Miniatures. (London: Bastsford, 1995), 11.

[iii] Coombs. “From Limning to Miniature: The Etymology of the Portrait Miniature.”

[iv] Giorgio Vasari. Delle Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architetti.  (Siena: Carli, 1568), 345.

[v] Phillip Sidney. The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia Vol. 2. (1590). (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1912), 218.; William Minto. A Manual of English Prose Literature. (Boston: Ginn, 1895), 211.

[vi] Pierre de Ronsard. Les Oeuvres 1587 Ed. (Paris, 1578), 302. See footnote #4: “Cette bestiole, que nous appelons cousin, a une trompe qui resemble en miniature á celle de l’éléphant.”

[vii] The Revival Period in miniature art started in the late 1890’s and while some scholars deem it to have ended by 1940, an unbroken chain of miniaturists connect today to that time.  Typically, the modern movement is referred to as the Second Wave of the Revival Period.

Posted by: Wes and Rachelle Siegrist | December 4, 2011

Chapter 12: In Pursuit of Excellence

Modern Masters of Miniature Art in America book

In Pursuit of Excellence

The invention of the daguerreotype in 1839, and the subsequent invention of the negative, had disastrous effects on the art of miniature painting. Despite the prediction of Ross, and the pronouncement of many scholars that miniature painting died, ca. 1860; it managed to cling to life.[i] Photography, as an inexpensive mechanical process to capture an image, severely cut into the function of miniature paintings as mementos. The general populace no longer required the expensive and laborious efforts of the miniature painter but there were still clients with discriminating taste who commissioned the services of the miniaturist. More detrimental to the art of miniature painting than a loss of function was the exponential growth of amateur miniature painters who, with the aid of photographic images as a base, were able to present an acceptable painting with minimal effort and little artistic training.* Miniaturists working as colorists tinting photographs flooded the market with competing products. Ironically, by the end of the 19th century, when many had pronounced miniature painting dead, the numbers of artists considering themselves miniaturists and the works they produced were greater than any previous period![ii]Amateur work abounded and the restrictive and repetitive procedure of tinting photographs had reduced most miniaturists to a baneful level of mediocrity in their work. A surge in interest in legitimate miniature painting in the late 1890s gave rise to artists copying fading photographs onto ivory for the perceived value and longevity of the painting versus the photo, but the intention remained to copy the photographic image.[iii] Such a lack of talent and a saturation of tawdry competitive namesakes reinforced the notion that miniature art was degenerate to the field of high fine art. It was in this context that the first of the miniature art societies were born. These societies, and their constituent members, no longer pursued the simple historical objective of capturing a likeness in their work but rather primarily sought to exemplify innovative techniques and appealing compositions based purely on artistic merit.

The last decade of the 19th century witnessed the formation of three societies dedicated to the genre of miniature art. All three did not spring forth spontaneously as a rebirth of an art form long since dead. Rather they lifted themselves out of the mire of their genre’s predicament to revive what they perceived as the merits of their field. Their goal was to preserve, protect and promote the best of miniature art. They knew, in order to combat public and academic perception and meet their goal; they needed to teach proper techniques of fine art in miniature and to produce a successive generation of able miniaturists which required organization and cooperation. In March of 1899, the American Society of Miniature Painters was created by ten artists. Each had been respected artists ‘in large’ that entered the world of miniature art with fresh perspectives and lofty goals in mind. They sought not to merely carve out or restore a market for painted mementos but rather to elevate their genre to the dignity it deserved. They were not encumbered with notions of proper techniques or styles and developed new aesthetics for miniature. They tenaciously promoted the equality of works ‘in little’ with those ‘in large’ a tenet mirrored, if not preceded by the first of the world’s miniature art societies, the Society of Miniature Painters in England. Known today as the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers, this group nicknamed themselves ‘The Academy in Little’ playing off their public standard for fine art, the Royal Academy. These groups were not unique in this purpose, as Members of the Royal Academy and National Academy of Design had promoted the same ideals before. It was their efforts to band together in purpose and pursue miniature as fine art apart from conventional works ‘in large’ that set precedent. Baer, the second President of the ASMP, erected a high standard for revival period miniaturists based primarily on natural observation and the pursuit of fine art. He, and the other founders of the new movement, used the traditions of the past and the examples of the masters of this time as their foundation, without allowing these precedents to dictate the scope and style of their new endeavor.[iv]

The pursuit of excellence establishing the criterion for proper miniature painting as fine art, reflective of the scope of works of conventional scale, culminated in 1985 with the formation of the Miniature Artists of America, MAA. This Society became the first organization to exist solely to honor outstanding practitioners of miniature art. Their Signature Members are considered the best the contemporary genre has to offer in the realm of miniature art displayed in America, with Members continuing today to make inroads into the arena of popular art both indirectly and directly with their miniature work. These Members of the MAA hold Signature Memberships in the world’s leading artistic societies and organizations. Their miniature works have been curated into museum exhibitions and acquired for museum permanent collections.[v]— Their minute gems of art have been recognized with awards in competition with the best work of their peers of conventional scale and the monetary value of their work is commensurate with peers in large despite the diminutive size. MAA Signature Members have reached the pinnacles of their respective fields as artists with miniature work. The founders of the first miniature art societies can be proud that their offspring remain vital and active in the pursuit of artistic excellence.


*Addendum

The content below has been added by the author as pertinent to the reader with the subject of the specific chapter. If you are a MAA Signature Member and have information relevant for this, or any other chapter, please contact the author.

– As of 2010, miniature art societies and exhibitions have made a concerted effort to address the issue of what constitutes “original” work due to submissions of photographic and printed paint-overs.

– For more information pertaining to the world’s miniature art societies, past and present, see: http://www.artofwildlife.com/miniatureartsocieties.html


[i] “Address on Art of Portraiture.” Gower, 143.

[ii] Heath. Miniatures., 226.

[iii] “Revival of Miniature Painting.” The San Francisco Call,

[iv] Bowdoin. “Miniature Painting.”, 782.

[v] William P. Mundy’s “Sir David Money-Coutts”: Victoria & Albert Museum; Rachelle L. Siegrist’s “The Pigeon-Hole”: Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum; Glenora C. Richard’s “Tim Richards as a Baby”, “Tim Richards as a Young Boy”: Yale Art Museum.

Posted by: Wes and Rachelle Siegrist | December 4, 2011

Chapter 8: Style and Technique in Miniature Art

Modern Masters of Miniature Art in America book

Style and Technique in Miniature Art

First and foremost, miniature painting is about the development of the finest and most demanding of practical skills of all the painting arenas. It is the mastery of handling of the tiny brush to produce the quality work which still maintains the quality when magnified, say, six times. Stipple, line, hatch work, so fine, that much of the technique is lost to the eye. Sydney Shorthouse[i]

 

Initially, limning referred to specific stylistic techniques that were requisitely different from methods used in other genres. It was these demanding qualities that identified them as limnings with no conscious concern for size or scale.[ii] These techniques were modified and evolved both to meet with public acceptance and to facilitate the copying of works in large, ‘in little’.[iii] In scrutinizing the historic production up to the present day, with little exception, one artistic style has dominated the genre of miniature art – Realism. The initial function of a representative memento established a foundation for realism in miniatures. The antecedent illuminations, and later parallel development in the branch of Far Eastern miniatures, were also centered on recognizable imagery for illustrative purposes. It was not until the mid 19th century when the advent of photography stole the public’s affection for the function of cherished realistic images of loved ones that miniaturists had great need of exploring different styles. It would take several more decades before the artists would begin to fully implement these new arenas as reflections ‘in little’ of the current trends of their day. Both as an attempt to remain relevant and to directly counter what they perceived to be flaws in their nemesis of photography, miniaturists explored new realms in color, composition and even subject matter. The revival period focused on trying to achieve what Robertson and Ross had initiated so many years before: a general appreciation for miniature painting as fine art in its own right. Opening the exhibitions to sculpture broadened the possibilities for creativity and further asserted the genre’s push into a classification of fine art. As artistic trends and styles developed in the art world at large, many of the artists responsible for them pursued new ground in the realm of the miniature world. It is far more common for an artist to work in conventional sizes and create miniatures on the side than it is for any to be specialists in miniature today.

Stylistic techniques for rendering miniature art have also been wide-ranging over the scope of the genre’s history. Despite this variety, consistent attributes remain that helped shape the identity of the art form. Intricate and precise brushwork employing manners of stippling, hatching and pointillism are used to achieve the refined character associated with fine miniature painting. Washes are generally relegated to under layers and backgrounds, and any seemingly carefree brushwork found will be used sparingly, to avoid distractions, to suit style, while still focusing attention typically on a tightly rendered subject. Polished refinement overall is typical but exceptions can be found historically in the works by miniaturists such as Fragonard and the establishment of the ‘free technique.’ Initiated by Virginia Richmond Reynolds, this technique allowed a few boldly apparent brushstrokes and several miniaturists were known for working with this method.[iv] Lucy May Stanton, took this style a step farther by introducing a ‘puddling style.’ She worked with pools of color on the ivory allowing the final effect to be a product of evaporation.[v] Still, the genre has acceptable margins limiting freedom and experimentation to remain true to its intrinsic attributes.[vi] In the words of Lucia Fairchild Fuller: “… law is an integral part of freedom/guarded freedom working within the constraints of the genre.”[vii]

Portraiture dominated miniature painting from the 16th through the 19th centuries. The demand for representations of loved ones as tokens of affection, usually to commemorate life events, supplied miniaturists with abundant work until usurped by the quicker and cheaper photograph. However, the highest esteem was still allocated to the painted miniature as reflected in the mimicked attempts of hand-colored photography and continued requests for paintings by society’s elite. Realism defined the genre until the revival period when artistic tastes in miniature reflected the broader full-scale movements. Today, realistic representations of subject matter are still the norm in exhibitions that cover nearly every imaginable style in practice. Whatever the style, from realism to abstraction, the fundamental tenet qualifying miniatures today, and reflective of miniature art through history, is refined detail. The function of miniatures both past and present, being up-close personal objects of inspection, demands the quality to beg further inspection from the viewer. Failure to please the viewer, when examined intimately, leaves a work of art outside the realm of a true miniature.[viii]

Modern miniaturists and miniature art societies usually display magnifying lenses alongside the works to encourage close examination and to amaze and educate the unfamiliar. Horace Walpole’s oft quoted statement, “Magnify the former, they are still diminutively conceived: if a glass could expand Cooper’s pictures to the size of Vandyck’s [sic], they would appear to have been painted for that proportion.” indicates not just the level of refined detail and accuracy qualifying a miniature. It also admonishes miniaturists to pursue this excellence, despite the challenges in scale and size, to stand equally alongside their full-size counterparts.[ix] Propert insightfully restates another thought by Walpole that it is doubtful if Van Dyck ever produced a work in large that could surpass the diminutive art of Cooper.[x] Miniaturists today use magnification as a work aid, especially to refine their works and in removing dust embedded in the paint. Miniaturists of the past did not rely on magnification to the degree that we do today. Alfred Praga, around 1900, asserted with a disdainful tone that magnifiers were not to be used to render the painting but only to refine and clean it.[xi] A sentiment echoed by Cyril Davenport in his writings on miniature painting.[xii] Most notable with this regard are the comparatively younger ages of the miniaturists of the past who, in the peak of their production, were nearly half the age of today’s average miniaturists who typically take up miniature painting later in their career.[xiii]— The dominance of detailed realism defining style is not without a major pitfall that was lamented over a century past; a tendency to overwork and destroy all subtle effects of fine art by obfuscating them with distracting marks.[xiv] The best miniaturists have learned to master methods of masking these distractions through employment of conventional fine art wisdom and by not mistaking the means for the end.[xv] The time and effort are present but noticed only upon intimate inspection. It would be more accurate to describe a true miniature as possessing polished refinement contrasted with detail defined merely as a preponderance of marks.[xvi] The RMS states the proper technique for defining miniature today is “infinite patience, precise composition and an extreme delicacy of touch, all of prime importance, for generalities would not be permissible in a miniature.”[xvii]

American miniaturists, at the founding of the American Society of Miniature Painters (ASMP), treated “old-time serious artistic methods, with a direct and fresh point of view”. They aimed to demonstrate that high art was attainable within the confines of diminutive space and despite perverted public taste, worked diligently to regain proper respect for miniature art.[xviii] They [American miniature painters, ca. 1905] realize the especially personal application of their respected field. Accordingly, they seek less for details than for intimate mystery. They leave the stiff, stippling traditions that preclude rich decorative effects or atmospheric qualities for strength and depth of color, for adequate drawing, for intelligent composition, for a grasp of the meaning of values, and for a broad and easy brushwork.[xix]

Revival miniaturists, and those populating the societies today, do not consider themselves bound to the traditions of the past and while they comprehend the difference between the skill of a craftsman and the creative genius of an artist, they realize the consummate miniaturist is a master of both. The beneficial influence of American innovation, unhindered by centuries of esteemed style, unfettered miniature art and helped it survive the onslaught of photography.[xx]— Photography influenced all painting but similarities in size, scale and function directly impacted miniature painting the most. Alyn Williams, founder and President of the world’s first miniature art society, the Society of Miniature Painters which is known today as the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers (RMS), bemoaned the fraud perpetrated on the art world in the unscrupulous use of photography with miniature art: the labeling of a colored photograph as an original miniature.[xxi]— Such deceit was common during the formation of the revival period but other changes affected by photography were not as overtly malevolent.[xxii] The most poignant of these effects was the altered experience of observation as artists now could work from a captured moment in time versus an interactive experience with their sitter. In this sense photography reverted miniature painting based upon its processes back to the time before the golden age of pursuit of nature and miniatures became more copies than individual expressions of fine art.[xxiii]The static image was immune to tiring as a live sitting had obvious time restraints. Technically this inspired the production of copyists more than artists with the need to quickly grasp composition, gesture, and light being replaced by the frozen photographic image.Early miniature art societies, however, acknowledged benefits of using photography in its place. Alfred Praga insisted photographs should be used as aids only after an artist is capable of working without them and stressed drawing from life.[xxiv] Alyn Williams praised the camera for freeing him from efforts at babysitting unruly child sitters.[xxv] While initial importance of working from life was stressed by revival miniaturists, today the use of photographs is the norm. Such usage mirrors attitudes in conventional sized fine art, limiting the photo to a reference tool. The ubiquitous nature of photography today has acclimated artists to viewing it as beneficial in its place versus the perception of the challenging upstart known by artists of old. Murrell’s conclusion that “miniature painting committed a logical, but undignified, suicide, by attempting to imitate photography” perhaps overstates the damage done to the genre, in that not all miniaturists pursued such a degree of imitation and overlooks the positive results future miniature art societies had in proselytizing the amateur copyists into the ranks of proper miniaturists.[xxvi]

Harry B. Wehle, former Curator of Paintings for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, summarized the two qualities that best define a proper miniature. To be ideal, a miniature should possess a quality of ‘preciousness’ seen in the perfection of its forms and textures. The tiny space must return more visual satisfaction than we expect to increase its value and charm. Additionally, a miniature should have a quality of ‘marvellousness’ [sic], an attribute inherent in its diminutive size. The viewer should marvel at the technical skill and dexterity of the work’s production.[xxvii]

The results obtained by successfully employing processes so exacting and refined as these naturally invite the closest examination. Harry B. Wehle[xxviii]

 

American miniature painting of the revival period established a school immeasurably in advance of the previous generations with attributes of “epoch-making” breadth and strength essentially different and characterized by “sincerity of purpose, originality, creative ability, and careful detail finish.”[xxix] They established a foundation in which proper technique in miniature produces work that is recognized by viewers first by subject, then as art and finally, after appealing to their aesthetic senses, impresses with the characteristics inherent to miniature alone: size, scale and technique.The final desired impressions are the patient and dexterous finishes solely of the miniaturist.[xxx]Miniatures usually mirror conventional scaled work done by the same artist and the individuality of style and finished quality of the artwork matter more than the methods used to create them. “… the bottom line is the image, the work of art, not the size or technique that has the ultimate value. A successful miniature will be a successful work of art, not just a successfully executed technique.”[xxxi]


[i] Jo Clay. The Magic of Miniatures. (Castle Cary, Somerset, UK: Castle Cary, 1991), 52.

[ii] Murrell. The Way How to Lymne., 4.

[iii] Ibid., 14.

[iv]  “Art: Paintings in Little.” Time (Time.com 19 Feb. 1934), <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,746984,00.html&gt; access 8.8.2009; Richard Walker. Miniatures: A Selection from the Ashmolean. (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997), 56; Alice T. Searle. “The Twelfth Annual Exhibition of the American Society of Miniature Painters.” The International Studio Vol. XLIII. (New York: Lane, Mar. 1911), xxi; Barrat. American Portrait Miniatures in the Metropolitan Museum of Art., 240. (Alice Schille, Laura Coombs Hills, Lucy May Stanton and Rosina Cox Boardman were all known to work in this method.)

[v] Barratt. American Portrait Miniatures in the Metropolitan Museum of Art., 256. (Stanton’s technique actually took Nicholas Hilliard’s technique for backgrounds and draperies a step further with her exploiting the freedom of the Watermedia.)

[vi] Heath. “Some Ancestors of Alphonso XIII and Other Miniatures in the Collection of His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch at Montagu House.”, 137; Murrell. The Way How to Lymne., 4.

[vii] Lucia Fairchild Fuller. “Modern American Miniature Painters.” Scribner’s Magazine Vol. LXVII. Jan.-June 1920. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1920), 384.

[viii] Hamley. “Miniature Painting.”, 81.

[ix] Anecdotes of Painting in England. Walpole, 11-12. [Original source: The London Magazine February 1764.]

[x] Charles Francis Adams et al. Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society Vol. 43. (Boston: MHS., 1910), 254.

[xi] “Painting a Miniature. A Demonstration by Mr. A. Praga, President of the Society of Miniaturists.” Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol. 1-2. (London: Hutchinson, 1904), <http://chestofbooks.com/crafts/general/Arts-And-Crafts-Magazine/Painting-A-Miniature-Part-First.html&gt; accessed 9.2009.

[xii] Davenport. Miniatures Ancient and Modern., 126.

[xiii] Barratt. American Portrait Miniatures in the Metropolitan Museum of Art., 24.  (The founders of the ASMP and many early miniaturists were in their late 20’s to early 40’s whereas most miniaturists in 2010 are past their 60’s.  Only a handful of active miniature artists in 2010 are under age 40.)

[xiv] Charles William Day. The Art of Miniature Painting. (London: Winsor, 1852), 14.

[xv] Ibid., 52.

[xvi] Heath. Miniatures., 132.

[xvii] Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers. Exhibition Catalogue. (London: RMS, 1998), 12

[xviii] “Revived Art of Miniature Painting.” Public Opinion Vol. XXXIX. (New York, 1905), 789.

[xix] Homer Saint-Qaudens. “Modern American Miniature Painters.” The Critic Vol. 4. (New York: Critic, 1905), 6-7.

[xx] Revival period miniaturists were often harshly criticized for departing from established perceptions of miniature art to make their work more relevant.  Half and full-length portraiture, elaborate compositions, nudes and landscapes were frowned upon as small scale copies of easel painting versus proper miniatures.  It was a testament to the artistic spirit and foresight of these miniaturists that our genre has such variety today. (See: New York Tribune 3 Feb. 1901)

[xxi] Alyn Williams. “Light and Shade in the Miniaturist’s Path.” The Art World Vol. 2. (New York: Kalon, July 1917), 337. See also: Carmela Arturi and Frederick Roger Phillips. The Arturi Phillips Collection. (Faux, France: Portrait Miniature Club, 2010), 376.

[xxii] Lucile Robertson Marshall. Photo-Oil Coloring for Fun or Profit. (Brooklyn: Marshall, 1944), 129.

[xxiii] Robin Jaffee Frank. Love & Loss: American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures. (New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2000), 283.

[xxiv] “Some Miniatures Shown at the Exhibition of the Society of Women Artists.” Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol. 1-2. (Hutchinson, 1904), <http://chestofbooks.com/crafts/general/Arts-And-Crafts-Magazine/Some-Miniatures-Shown-At-The-Exhibition-Of-The-Society-Of-Wo.html&gt; access 9.2009

[xxv] Williams. “Light and Shade in the Miniaturist’s Path.” The Art World Vol. 2., 337.

[xxvi] Bardo. English & Continental Portrait Miniatures: The Latter-Schlesinger Collection., 38.

[xxvii] Wehle. American Miniatures., 3.

[xxviii] Ibid., 3.

[xxix] Bowdoin. “Miniature Painting.”, 781; Frederick N. Burrows. The New England Magazine Vol. XL (Boston: New England Magazine, 1909), 120.

[xxx] Ibid., 121.

[xxxi] Janet Laird-Lagassee email “Book Content”.

[xxxii] Bardo. English & Continental Portrait Miniatures: The Latter-Schlesinger Collection., 29.

[xxxiii] Elizabeth Davys Wood. Painting Miniatures. (London: Black, 1989), 123.

Posted by: Wes and Rachelle Siegrist | December 4, 2011

Chapter 11: Framing Miniature Paintings

Modern Masters of Miniature Art in America book

Framing Miniature Paintings

Initially, miniatures were dominated by portraiture as cherished keepsakes and were housed in specially designed cases. As such, the art form combined the fine arts with the decorative to the degree of equating painting with jewelry.[i] Framing of miniatures has always varied due to function or necessity and as early as 1820 one artist pointedly wrote that “a miniature is like a drop of water in the ocean” at the Royal Academy exhibition.[ii]From its inception, the Academy limited the size of an individual miniature’s frame molding to one inch. Attempting to compete with the popularity of more elaborate and substantial framing, Robertson argued successfully for policy changes and the rules were modified to allow for up to two and a half inches wide with a maximum dimension of six inches for a miniature.[iii]Robertson, and his followers, also preferred rectangular frames as these emphasized their miniatures as objects of art versus mere sentimental mementos.[iv]

The later development of display cases, used by miniaturists and art societies added not just a level of security but enhanced the sense of prominence as if they were protected gems. Visually the cases displayed miniatures as groupings which offset the overpowering visual bombardment of so many monotonous works of size and shape and perhaps reinforced the charm of collections to patrons.[v]Formal miniature societies today employ a variety of rules to dictate framing styles and sizes in the exhibitions. Such restrictions are purely for facilitating the arrangement of the miniatures for display and vary depending upon the particular limitations of the display cases or venue panels. While varying rules frustrate the participating artists, they are a necessary problem as long as diversity exists in display venues and methods of hanging works.

Two major styles dominate framing for miniatures and both follow precedents set in the historic traditions. The more popular use smaller sizes and delicate moldings in proportion to the works. This is the usual method pertaining to society exhibitions, and it is also preferred by miniaturists wanting to appeal to collectors who group miniatures or patrons who wear miniatures. Smaller framing allows for greater display flexibility in locations such as tables, cabinets, shelves or small niches inappropriate for conventional sized framed art. Larger, more elaborate and substantial framing is used by miniaturists wishing to enhance the visual appeal of their work for collectors whose preference is to display the miniature, either alone or alongside conventional-sized work, where diminutive framing would be lost. Miniaturists still pursue substantial framing as a means of enhancing the associated value of their work in competition with conventional-sized art.

The argument as to which method best promotes the art of miniature depends upon the intended goal. Collectors can be satisfied either way and retain the option to re-frame works to suit them. Prestige and avoidance of being lost or overpowered in conventional art exhibitions merits the substantial styles.[vi]Appeal to charming characteristics inherent in miniature and distinction from other forms of art are best achieved with delicate framing. Smaller framing suits exhibitions of great numbers of works in limited venue spaces and contributes to the visual dazzle of so many artistic gems in an individual’s field of view. Efforts to change miniature show framing policies to suit public preference will fail both by diluting the essential attributes of miniatures and by the repetitive need for altering the guidelines to suit the fickle public taste in time.[vii]


*Addendum

The content below has been added by the author as pertinent to the reader with the subject of the specific chapter. If you are a MAA Signature Member and have information relevant for this, or any other chapter, please contact the author.

– In 2010 through 2012 the Hilliard Society of England has been debating the issues of size and framing. Larger image size and framing has been allowed to some degree in their exhibitions with the issue still being considered as temporary.


[i] Barratt. American Portrait Miniatures in the Metropolitan Museum of Art., 11.

[ii] Heath. Miniatures., 211.

[iii] Murdoch et al. The English Miniature., 223.

[iv] British Portrait Miniatures. Reynolds, 6.

[v] “Wee Portraits in Color.” New York Times (18 Apr. 1907).

[vi] Wehle. American Miniatures., 3.

[vii] “Philadelphia Exhibit of Miniatures.” New York Times (10 Nov. 1907).

Posted by: Wes and Rachelle Siegrist | December 4, 2011

Chapter 7: Scale in Miniature Art

Modern Masters of Miniature Art in America book

Scale in Miniature Art

Scale was unintentionally the result of size and compositional constraints within the traditions of illumination, limning and the later miniature. Life-sized depictions of flora and fauna that often were incorporated into the page designs in illuminated manuscripts found little place in the latter detached limning/miniature developments. This was not due to an established guideline dictating scale but a result of simple market demand from the buying public. Nearly all early miniature paintings were commissioned cherished mementos of loved ones and diminutive reproductions of classical full-sized works. Portraits dominated the oeuvre of historical miniaturists and few ventured into other realms. It was a rarity to sell a non-commissioned miniature.[i]

The issue of scale, as being part of the defining parameters of miniature art, was addressed in 1865 during the planning of the South Kensington Exhibition in England when the question arose as to what constituted a miniature with regards to the historical assemblage being prepared for display. It was agreed that any media and style was acceptable with the exception of paintings on porcelain. The curators sought not to establish a rule other than the proposed miniatures should be small in scale and reflecting a miniature’s character. Size was obviously not considered an issue, which some could take to mean it held no place, although it is more probable that the field of selections generally held to an established typical size.[ii]

Hard and fast guidelines dictating scale did not come to the forefront in the genre of miniature art until the Miniature Art Society of New Jersey (MASNJ), in 1970, under the direction of Bede Zel Angle, devised a 1/6th scale rule as a basis for competitive judging. This rule, which sought to answer the question of the pragmatic American artist’s “How small is small or little, little?”, specified that subjects of the work should be rendered 1/6th their actual size or less.[iii] To the degree that these miniature artists associated this specific scale with the historical oeuvre of miniaturists’ works is unknown but surely it is no coincidence that the majority of extant historical works would qualify for the rule. In the writings of additional revival period miniature art societies, the scale rule also became a de facto measure of distinction separating historically based miniatures from a myriad of others laying claim to the same name.[iv]This frustration of miniaturists to remain unique in a milieu of competing namesakes, alongside the constant confusion for new artists seeking to work in miniature, finally resulted in the formation of the Association of Miniature Artists (AMA). The debates that led to the development of the AMA helped miniaturists rectify the primary objection to the scale rule. The linguistic difference between the meanings of rule opposed to guideline exposed the issue of rigidity or leniency and reinforced the need for the parameter to facilitate uniformity for consensus of definition and public perception.

As of 2009 nearly all miniature art societies require a reduction in scale for work to be considered miniature. Those accepting life-size renditions stipulate that the subject’s life-size must fall under two inches in size thus limiting the available subject matter and forcing  all else to submit to reduced scale. Given the popular public meaning of the term miniature, and the continuing influence of small-sized works clearly not meeting conceded miniature standards, reduced scale guidelines will remain intrinsic to any definition. Modern miniaturists faced with the display of their work online and in print at uncontrollable reproduction size, adopted the use of including a penny alongside their work. The coin provides an instant sense of size and scale to the viewer and has become practically ubiquitous in recognizing contemporary miniatures online in the milieu of conventional sized works. Some miniaturists often include the penny when submitting their work to juries of non-miniature nature in an attempt to counter the disadvantage they face having their work enlarged by as much as fifty times on a projection screen.

The essence of miniature art is not to paint ‘Mount Rushmore on the head of a pin’, or microscopic detail, but it is a game of quality effectiveness for size. Bede Zel Angle[v]

These miniatures [by Don Giulio Clovio] were characterized by Giorgio Vasari, in his Lives of the Artists, as stupefying in their brilliant detail, emulating Michelangelo and conveying a sense of monumentality even in works that are physically small.[vi]

… miniature painting is as artistic and often more difficult than portrait painting in oils. The work is so delicate and minute that a great deal of time has to be spent upon the picture to make it satisfactory. It is more difficult to get the proper expression in a miniature than in a large painting, because it is such very fine and exacting work.Otto Sarony[vii]

‘My four-year-old could do that!’ is something you never hear at a miniature art exhibition. Lynn Pierson[viii]


[i] Katherine Coombs. The Portrait Miniature in England. (London: VAM, 1998), 95.

[ii] Samuel Redgrave. Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Portrait Miniatures on Loan at the South Kensington Museum. (London: Whittingham, 1865). x-xi.

[iii] Doris M. Liverman and Kay Petryszak. Catalogue of the Miniature Collection. (Clearwater: MASF, 2000), 10.

[iv]  In the MASF bylaws: ‘Fine art in small scale, with minute attention to detail, which can be enlarged or withstand close inspection without revealing its faults.’; Liverman. Catalogue of the Permanent Collection., 10.

[v] Bede Zel Angle. Miniature Art Today. (Indian Rocks Beach, FL: Expert Art Services, 1977), 7.

[vi] “Michelangelo in Miniature: The Towneley Lectionary”. Treasures of the New York Public Library. <http://exhibitions.nypl.org/treasures/items/show/128&gt; access 7.2009.

[vii] “Miniatures Once More” Fort Worth Gazette Mail Ed. Part II. [Ft. Worth, TX] 21 Oct. 1894.

[viii] Lynn Pierson, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, Spoken at the 2010 MASF Awards Brunch, January 2010.

Posted by: Wes and Rachelle Siegrist | December 4, 2011

Chapter 10: The Influence of Formal Societies, Exhibitions and Awards

Modern Masters of Miniature Art in America book

The Influence of Formal Societies,

Exhibitions and Awards

At the founding of the Royal Academy in England in 1768, miniature paintings hung in the heart of the main exhibition room which came to be known as the Miniature Room.[i] Such prominent display afforded miniaturists easy access to the public patrons but also introduced the element of artistic competition between themselves and the conventional-sized works by peers.[ii]The need to grab public attention and impress their peers forced the miniature painters to adapt their work to succeed.[iii] They faced challenges not unlike today with denigration from peers that theirs was a lesser art. Some felt the art of miniaturists lacked the honor of fine art as it merely provided a service of a personal memento while others espoused further that miniature painting was pursued by those “too stupid or lazy to undertake academic study” in their pursuit “to make an easy living.”[iv]Some critics labeled miniaturists as a “mercenary corps more interested in personal gain than in the loftier aims of high art.”[v]Miniaturists faced an uphill battle to combat these perceptions and while works such as Robertson’s miniatures commanded public attention amidst the overpowering full-size works, the time and effort to produce such larger, technical virtuosities of miniature were too consuming to be practical in a business sense.[vi]Few miniaturists felt compelled to struggle against these odds and even less patrons were willing to financially support them if they did.[vii]Surely without the avenue of these exhibitions and the resulting adaptations in their work, miniaturists would have been swallowed by their mechanical counterpart – the photograph. Exhibitions in hallowed halls gave miniatures the association of belonging in the realm of high art, even when questioned, and these connotations helped establish their value. The market for miniatures as functional objects had been stolen by photography and it was noted that “A first-class miniature is, and must ever be, an expensive object, and those who can paint them are leaving the profession.”[viii]Even the Journal of the Photographic Society of London perceived that photography’s beneficial influence of removing amateur miniaturists of little talent from the field, while regretting that it negatively impacted the lucrative business endeavors of the best miniaturists and shrunk their exhibition space at the Academy.[ix]The number of exhibited miniatures at the Academy in 1830 was over 300 which plummeted to only 33 in 1863.[x] By 1899, miniatures were receiving conspicuous attention at the Academy exhibition demonstrating their revival in public appreciation.[xi] The display of miniatures had grown back up to 245 in the Royal Academy by 1903, and nearly 600 works were displayed between the Society of Miniature Painters and the Society of Miniaturists in England. These 800 were but a portion of the oeuvre of miniature art produced in 1903, but Dudley Heath, miniaturist and scholar, asserted that “the art was never more lacking in talent or vitality.”[xii]Although the establishment of the miniature societies briefly reinvigorated quality works being displayed, by the mid 20th century, the RMS was lamenting the poor treatment afforded miniatures by the Academy with respect to display as well as the convolution of their unique characteristics by mingling them with “small works painted without any semblance to miniature techniques.”[xiii]The 2006 Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy had only eight miniatures among the 1,326 exhibited works of art.

The revival of interest in miniature painting in the late 19th century was propelled in America by an 1894 art exhibition held for charity in New York at the National Academy of Design[xiv]. The exhibition, featuring portraits of women, included over 600 portrait miniatures with 100 works being from the collection of Mr. Peter Marié. His collection of historical and contemporary miniature portraits by the world’s foremost miniaturists drew the attention of viewers at the exclusion of many of the conventional works of art.[xv] This exhibition primarily reinforced the perception of miniature painting as high art to the fashionable world but also gave a platform for contemporary miniaturists to display and promote their work.

The first major solo exhibition comprised strictly of miniatures was one by Gerald Sinclair Hayward in New York in 1899. With it, he capitalized on the renewed popularity of miniatures among the social elite.[xvi]This resurgent veritable craze in popularity for miniatures was populated by amateurs, inept in individual character or artistic skill and, while most were conscientious enough to avoid trying to pass off over-painted photographs as original miniatures, they still fell short of pursuit of high art by striving to duplicate exact copies of photographs. The over saturation of these misguided reproductions in the market instilled, if not cemented in the public mind, the belief that miniature painting was not to be taken seriously and was little more than a novel production of a copyist craftsman.[xvii]It was in this mire of belittlement and lack of respect that a handful of artists conceived the concept that the only way to free their genre and rise to aspired heights would be to band together as a formal society of miniature painters and hold their own juried exhibitions.[xviii]The formation of miniature art societies, in an attempt to fix a standard of quality to their genre through exhibitions, faced the challenges of discouraging the amateurs rejected by the juries as well as questioning the status of some artists publicly perceived as established miniaturists of note. The latter often avoided submitting in fear of unfavorable jury results that would diminish their standing in the eyes of their high society clientele.[xix]

The new miniature societies emphasized painting ‘in little’ as separate and above imitative colored photography and marketed as ‘miniatures’ and pursued the inherent right of miniature art to hang in exclusive venues of museums and galleries.[xx]The formation of these groups and their procedures for jurying exhibitions in order to maintain high standards created the prestige requisite of a formal Society.[xxi]The role of the constituent members being to “fearlessly face their responsibilities and justify their superior aims by the steadfastness of their study and the unprejudiced appreciation and help they tender to rising talent.”[xxii] As a proper miniature society they augmented exhibitions with meetings for intellectual exchange and the conduct of business, sponsored lectures, demonstrations, and classes to educate outside their circle to both preserve and promote their genre. Finally they strove to accumulate a representative permanent collection of works, literature and society archives for posterity.[xxiii]

Modern Societies retain the vitality of miniature art in all its varied nuances although today the fascination lies more with intricate craftsmanship of technique in such a small format more than the cherished associations of the private mementos of the past.[xxiv]The world’s first International Seminar for Miniature Artists, hosted by the Hilliard Society in Bath, England in 1995, explored the theme “Comparisons of Style and Technique; Are there any international variations?” and brought together representatives from America, Australia, England, Ireland and South Africa with lectures and slide presentations elaborating upon the regional characteristics of miniature art.[xxv] Prices for miniatures vary due to the reputation and achievements of artists in exhibitions.  Striving for recognition via awards helps to establish the value for work by a particular artist and proportionately relates to supporting their livelihood.[xxvi]The role of high society rarely influences the value of modern miniaturists’ works as it had in the pre-revival period days. Only a handful of living miniaturists cater to royalty and aristocratic society, and such work, by itself, is rarely enough to support them even with the associated prestige and referrals. While further contributing to the demand for these miniature artists’ works, the path to value through exhibitions and awards trumps catering to the elite from an artist’s point of view. Following personal creative endeavors, and finding recognition and honor for such pursuits, far more satisfies the soul than attempting to please the whims of patrons commissioning works.

Nearly all miniature art exhibitions today are open to public submissions from non-members. The appeals of enticing new artists to attempt work in miniature are affected by miniature groups dangling award monies and successful sales rates to their prospects. Once inside the fold, and especially once exposed in person to the charm and variety in miniature, often initial testers of the field become captivated by the genre and pursue it to a greater degree.

The hope of one day attaining eligibility for the prestigious Miniature Artists of America (MAA), and election by one’s peers into the Membership, is tantalizing to novice miniaturists with this society’s guidelines encouraging submissions to the accredited exhibitions. The MAA, in 1989, started their Traveling Exhibition of Members’ works as both a promotional and educational tool representing miniature art. Since that time, the changing exhibit has traveled to nearly one hundred venues including Australia and Japan.[xxvii]

The thought of an international society representing miniaturists and constituent societies in scope with worldwide exhibitions was first proposed in 1921 by Alyn Williams.[xxviii]* The idea revived under the influence of Jane Blake, who envisioned an international organization composed of societies around the world. MAA established an Interim Committee to research this for the next three years. A meeting in London, England, with representatives from seventeen different societies around the world, resulted in the formation of a new organization in November of 1995: The World Federation of Miniaturists (WFM).[xxix] While forming an overseeing body to the worldwide fingers of the miniature movement had advantages in communication, the WFM makes little effort in creating any recognized standard or in attempting to govern the various miniature organizations and societies. While the WFM did discuss the issue, Sue Burton, as acting administrator, emphasized that imposing a single standard or definition would diminish the variety of the genre worldwide.[xxx] The view that individual societies should establish their own criteria prevailed as did the persistent opinion that some boundaries were requisite. The greatest achievement of the WFM has been the Worldwide Exhibitions of Fine Art in Miniature. Held approximately every four years since the debut in London in conjunction with the Royal Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers Society’s 100th Anniversary Celebration, the exhibition brings together over 1,000 works of miniature art from around the globe and provides opportunities for miniaturists to interact with peers from afar.

The acceptable size of miniatures has been determined by exhibition space more than semantic debate or public taste. As venues became more crowded with submissions, size was gradually reduced from the larger formats made popular in the tumultuous age of the mid 19th century down to the present day formats of fifteen to thirty-five square inches.[xxxi]The entrenched guidelines for acceptable image size, reinforced by the AMA standard, will remain steadfast in the foreseeable future and it is unlikely that miniaturists will repeat the mistakes of the mid 19th century by trying to enlarge the formats.

Current miniature art societies and exhibitions promote novelty by following the tradition started by the National Academy of Design in 1826. Displayed works are to be by living artists only, not previously exhibited, and excluded from future shows with little exception.[xxxii] This turnover avoids stagnation. The policy by many exhibitions to have multiple award categories and limit awards to one per artist provides a broader base of recognition. Specialized awards, such as the MASF award for ‘Best Traditional Portrait’ encourages pursuit of classical techniques to ensure their continuation.

Exhibitions provide a unique opportunity to interact with miniatures and witness firsthand their charm, an experience unduplicated in representations in print or online. In the words of scholar, Jim Murrell:

First look at a miniature generally as a painting, as a portrait, and as a piece of design. Then think about the period in which it was painted and the technical limitations of that time. Finally, and most important, get as close as you can, or better, use a magnifying glass, and really look. See the textures of the paint, the smoothness or freeness of execution, and the unique touch of the artist’s brush.[xxxiii]

Properly appreciating a miniature, in context of the broad scope of the present genre, can only be accomplished by physically standing in front of these gems of the art world.

Stepping back to see a full-scale portrait in its entirety provides a fundamentally different experience from bending toward a miniature to see the details. Robin Jaffee Frank[xxxiv]

The introduction of formal recognition via awards, and particularly the prospect of financial gain, has stimulated miniaturists towards production of their finest works for submission to these exhibitions. As most awards judges are established experts in fine art but are not necessarily familiar with miniatures, the field is reinforced in emphasizing the overarching qualities of art in general versus specific attributes of miniatures. The establishment of awards via society exhibitions created an elite group of miniaturists inspiring emulation for quality and indirectly developing a standard of definition for those endeavoring to join their ranks.[xxxv]

Miniaturists throughout time have been recognized for their talent as artists with memberships in prestigious academies and societies as well as inclusion in honored exhibitions based upon artistic merit without regard to size. Individual and group showings of miniatures have been commonplace in gallery settings and have provided many a miniaturist a springboard into the miniature genre as a career. Solo museum exhibitions of miniaturist’s works and inclusions in museums’ collections, however, remain rare feats of academic acknowledgement. These, alongside miniatures being juried into prestigious exhibitions in the domain of conventional sized art, reinforce that miniaturists have indeed succeeded in attaining their goal of miniature art being recognized fully as fine art. This effort is compounded by restrictions eliminating smaller sized works from many of the exhibitions focused on conventional larger sizes likely due to security concerns.

The idea of highlighting a single individual’s work in an exhibition was promoted by the Fine Art Society in London, and, in 1906, they displayed twenty-three of the American Eulabee Dix’s miniature portraits.[xxxvi] Cornelia Ellis Hildebrandt was potentially the first revival period miniaturist honored with a solo exhibition in a museum when the Worcester Art Museum displayed fifteen of her miniatures in 1912.[xxxvii]Alyn Williams and Louis Rosenthal held a joint exhibition of portrait and sculpture miniatures at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, in 1924.[xxxviii]Rosenthal, considered the “father of miniature sculpture”,additionally had exhibitions of his miniatures at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum of New York and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, MD.[xxxix]Eulabee Dix, at age eighty in 1958, received recognition as the first living artist to have a retrospective display of work in Portugal’s prestigious Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon which featured seventy-six of her miniature paintings.[xl] The National Museum of Women in the Arts, in Washington, DC, holds over eighty-six of her paintings in their Permanent Collection and has staged four exhibitions featuring her miniature portraits posthumously.[xli]— Five revival period miniaturists’ works were purchased for the Permanent Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and other members’ works reside in the Collection as well.[xlii]— At the demise of the ASMP, the Society, under the direction of Rosina Cox Boardman, bequeathed a juried nineteen-piece collection of miniatures, one from each present ASMP Member, to the Smithsonian.[xliii] The Brooklyn Museum also helped establish precedence when they acquired seventeen revival period miniatures for their permanent collection.[xliv]*

Glenora Richards, MAA Signature Member as of 1993, and the last surviving Member of the ASMP, alongside Clara Louise Bell, were the only representatives of living miniaturists to take part in the 1966 traveling miniature art exhibition from the Smithsonian’s National Collection of Fine Arts hosted by the IBM Gallery in New York.[xlv] Richards, at one hundred years of age, continued her work in miniature until her passing in 2009. Richards’ miniatures are part of the Permanent Collections of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Collection of Fine Arts, the Worcester Art Museum, the Yale Museum of Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Other active Members of the MAA have also achieved recognition in museum collections with their miniatures: William P. (Bill) Mundy in the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum where he is the only living miniaturist represented in the Museum’s vast holdings of historic miniatures. Rachelle Siegrist has two miniatures in the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum’s collection in Wausau, WI.*

Members of the MAA have been repeatedly juried into distinguished museum exhibits with their miniatures*: Beverly Abbott, Tykie Ganz, Linda Rossin, Rachelle Siegrist and Wes Siegrist in the Art & the Animal Exhibition of the Society of Animal Artists; Rachelle Siegrist into Birds in Art; Chrysoula Argyros in the Watercolor Society of South Africa Exhibition; Linda Rossin and Rachelle Siegrist in the Art of Conservation exhibition. Dean Mitchell in the Watercolor Society of Alabama Exhibition; Janet Laird-Lagassee in the American Academy of Equine Art Fall Open Juried Exhibition in Lexington, KY, and the Masters of Watercolor show hosted by the New England Watercolor Society; Rosalind Pierson in the Paris Salon and Michael Coe, Alan Farrell, William Mundy, Rosalind Pierson and Rita Whitaker in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions. Over ten of Mundy’s miniatures were exhibited in the Summer Royal Academy Exhibitions. Margi Cochran exhibited her miniatures alongside her large scale work at the Kirkleatham Old Hall Museum and the Middlesbrough Museum Service, both in England. Margi was the first American artist to exhibit with the Museum Service. Dean Mitchell has had his miniatures included in several of his solo and group museum exhibitions including those at the Mississippi Art Museum; American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, MO; Margaret Harwell Art Museum, Poplar Bluff, MO; the Tampa Museum of Art; the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, Tarpon Springs, FL and the Cornell Museum of Art, Delray Beach, FL.

Noted historian on American wildlife art and museum curator, Dr. David J. Wagner, has curated over twenty miniatures by MAA artists for various exhibitions with national museum tour venues.[xlvi]*— Additionally he has curated six exhibitions of fifty of the Siegrists’ miniature paintings and small works at the R. W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport, LA; the Dennos Museum Center, Traverse City, MI; the West Baton Rouge Museum, Port Allen, LA; the Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure, Salina, KS; the museum of the Southwest, Midland, TX and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ. These achievements, and the honors bestowed upon miniaturists, conclusively illustrate the intentions of the founders of the miniature art societies have been fulfilled.


*Addendum

The content below has been added by the author as pertinent to the reader with the subject of the specific chapter. If you are a MAA Signature Member and have information relevant for this, or any other chapter, please contact the author.

– As of 2010, miniature art societies and exhibitions have made a concerted effort to address the issue of what constitutes “original” work due to submissions of photographic and printed paint-overs.

– Endnote xxviii/194 in printed book: Alyn Williams may have proposed his “International Society of Miniature Painters” at the “In Little” joint exhibition at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA (Dec. 19 to Jan. 10, 1921). The Exhibition was comprised of @350 works from the American Society of Miniature Painters, the Royal Miniature Society and the Pennsylvania Society of Miniature Painters. [http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=djft3U1LymYC&dat=19211023&printsec=frontpage&hl=en – The Pittsburgh Press, Oct. 23, 1921. accessed 4.2012]

– Solo Museum Exhibitions of Miniaturists’ Works: 1963 Exhibit of 50+ miniature paintings by Malthe Hasseiris at the Gibbes Art Gallery, Charleston, SC

– Group museum exhibitions of MAA Members’ works: American Academy of Equine Art’s Fall 2015 Open Exhibition: Rachelle Siegrist;

– MAA Signature Members’ work in Museum collections: Jeanne Dunne – Presidential portrait miniature of George H. Bush in the Butler Institute of American Art’s collection (1998); Wes and Rachelle Siegrist: Presidential portrait miniatures of George W. Bush and Barack Obama in the Woolaroc Museum’s collection (2012);  Wes and Rachelle Siegrist: Permanent Collections of the R.W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport, LA and the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, WI.

– The number of miniature paintings curated by Dr. Wagner grows annually by 6-12 works including these exhibitions not mentioned in endnote #212: The Sea of Cortez, 2013 (Wes & Rachelle Siegrist); American Still Lifes 2014 (Janet Laird-Lagassee, Wes & Rachelle Siegrist); Feline Fine II ~ Art of Cats 2014 (Wes & Rachelle Siegrist); AMERICA’S PARKS II 2014 (Beverly Abbott, Rachelle Siegrist, Wes Siegrist); The Society of Animal Artists (SAA) ‘Art & the Animal’ Annual Exhibition [Juried by SAA Board Members] (Beverly Abbott, Judy Lalingo, Linda Rossin, Rachelle Siegrist, Wes Siegrist);

– The Siegrists’ Exhibition “EXQUISITE MINIATURES” includes the additional venues: the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center, Yadkinville, NC; the Dunnegan Gallery of Art, Bolivar, MO; the ArtCenter Manatee, Bradenton, FL; the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Port Arthur, TX; the Nevada State Museum, Carson City, NV; the San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego, CA; the Kenosha Public Museum, Kenosha, WI, The Wildlife Experience, Parker, CO; the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, Jamestown, NY; The Steamboat Art Museum, Steamboat Springs, CO; The Albany Museum of Art, Albany, GA; The Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Hays, KS; The Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve, Bartlesville, OK; The Dane G. Hansen Memorial Museum, Logan, KS; The George A. Spiva Center for the Arts, Joplin, MO; The Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs, Bonita Spings, FL; The Stauth Memorial Museum, Motezuma, KS; The Mari Sardoz High Plains Heritage Center, Chadron, NE; The Neville Public Museum, Green Bay, WI and The Customs House Museum and Cultural Center, Clarksville, TN.


[i] Photographic Society of Great Britain. “Exhibition of the Photographic Society of Scotland.” Journal of the Photographic Society Vol. 5. No. 70. (London: Taylor, 1859), 20.

[ii] Murdoch et al. The English Miniature., 177; Coombs. Portrait Miniature in England., 87, 95.

[iii] Ibid., 98.

[iv] Ibid., 99, 111.

[v] Murdoch et al. The English Miniature., 197.

[vi] Frank. Love & Loss: American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures., 116.

[vii] Coombs. Portrait Miniature in England., 112, 117.

[viii] Photographic Society of Great Britain. “Exhibition of the Photographic Society of Scotland.”   Journal of the Photographic Society., 20

[ix] Photographic Society of Great Britain. “Exhibition of the Photographic Society of Scotland.” Journal of the Photographic Society., 20

[x] Johnson. American Portrait Miniatures in the Manney Collection., 25.

[xi] Tindall. “The Modern Miniature Craze.”, 197.

[xii] Heath. Miniatures., 230-231.

[xiii] The Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers. One Hundred Years Book. (Warminster, Wiltshire, UK: Lucas Art, 1995), 11.

[xiv] National Academy of Design. Portraits of Women Loan Exhibition. (NY: National Academy of Design, 1894).

[xv] “Mr. Marie’s Miniatures.” The Sun, 7; 18 Jan. 1903.

[xvi] Joan Cornish Willies. The Artist’s Workbook on Miniature Painting. (Clearwater, FL: Willies, 1988), 8-9; “Miniature Painting.” The Metropolitan Vol. VII. (15 Jan. 1898), 11; “An Art Coming in Again.” The New York Times (16 July 1887).

[xvii] “American Miniature Painters.” Baer, 5; J. Nilsen Laurvik. “Sixth Annual Exhibition of Miniatures at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.” The International Studio (NY: Lane, 1907), CIII.

[xviii] The New York Times 10 Nov. 1907.

[xix] Kay. “The Miniator’s Art.”, 335.

[xx] Jo Ann Ridley. Looking for Eulabee Dix. (Washington, DC: NMWA, 1997), 46.

[xxi] New York Times 3 February 1901.

[xxii] Heath. Miniatures., 224.

[xxiii] Heath. Miniatures., 224.

[xxiv] Strickler.  American Portrait Miniatures: The Worcester Art Museum Collection., 16.

[xxv] MAA Newsletter Spring 1996.

[xxvi] The Magic of Miniatures. Clay, xii.

[xxvii] The Miniature Artists of America (MAA). 2008-2012 MAA Traveling Exhibition Catalogue.

[xxviii] Hamilton Easter Field. The Arts. Vol. 2. (NY: Hamilton, 1921), 30.

[xxix] WFM Interim Coordinating Committee. “Organizational Assembly” [notes for 10 Nov. 1995]. (Feb. 1996).

[xxx] World Federation of Miniaturists July 2001 Correspondence from Sue Burton.

[xxxi] The Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers. One Hundred Years Book. 11.

[xxxii] Dunlap. A History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States Vol. 3., 57.

[xxxiii] Bardo. English & Continental Portrait Miniatures: The Latter-Schlesinger Collection., 39.

[xxxiv] Frank. Love & Loss: American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures., 1.

[xxxv] World Federation of Miniaturists July 2001 Correspondence from Sue Burton.

[xxxvi] Ridley. Looking for Eulabee Dix, 89; <http://www.victorianweb.org/art/fas1.html&gt; accessed 10.2009

[xxxvii] Aaronson. Perfect Likeness., 207.

[xxxviii] The Detroit Jewish Herald 13 July 1927.

[xxxix] The National Jewish Post 19 Aug. 1955; Letter to Louis Rosenthal from the Baltimore Museum of Fine Art <http://www.louisrosenthalmuseum.org/&gt; accessed 2.2010.

[xl] Ridley. Looking for Eulabee Dix, 274-275.

[xli] (Exhibits) Eulabee Dix Portrait Miniatures: An American Renaissance; Precious Objects: Eulabee Dix and the Revival Portrait Miniature; Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997; Eulabee Dix (1878-1961): An American Miniaturist <http://clara.nmwa.org/index.php?g=entity_detail&entity_id=2166&gt; accessed 12.2009; Additionally the Grand Rapids Art Museum staged an exhibition of fifty of Eulabee’s watercolors on ivory in 1988.

[xlii] Alice Beckington, Laura Coombs Hills, Lucia Fairchild Fuller, Margaret Foote Hawley, Helen M. Turner; Louis Rosenthal also has miniature sculpture represented in the MET’s collection.

[xliii] MAA Newsletter Spring 1997 Vol. 11 No. 1.

[xlv] MAA Newsletter Spring 1997 Vol. 11 No. 1.

[xlvi] Dr. Wagner has curated MAA Members’ works into the following group museum exhibitions: The Society of Animal Artists ‘Art & the Animal’ Exhibition; Art of the Rainforest; Paws & Reflect Art of Canines; Blossom Art of Flowers; Endangered Species Flora & Fauna in Peril; Art of the Dive: Portraits of the Deep.

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