The portrait miniature served as one of the most perfect portable tokens of love and affection for as long as they could affordably be created. Changes in society helped this eventuate, such as the rise in specialised guilds and schools of miniaturist painting. Financially, early modern society was becoming increasingly mobile, both in terms of social strata and physically. Urban centres grew, along with mass production, allowing for faster processes and lower costs. With this physical mobility, there comes the reasons for love tokens and a keepsake of a loved one for travel (be it for war, profit or politics).
This leads to the popularity of the portrait miniature and the wide degree of difference in their styles. Miniatures that were pre-rendered to a Neoclassical ideal and tailored for a loved one kept costs low and retained elements of the person’s visage as a keepsake, yet, as there was low quality, of course there had to be the fine quality as well.
This piece is incredibly individual and quite well rendered. Its cross-hatched method of capturing shadow and detail perfectly renders the face of the lady in question, indeed, it is the attention to detail and its use as a sentimental piece, which the photograph would later replace.
This photograph compact (Victorian Photography in a Miniature Compact), not only due to the age of the lady in question, is a spiritual successor to this style. The lady isn’t idealised in any way with both pieces, but rather a literal interpretation that captures the nature of the loved one.
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