Private portraits: painted miniatures in early modern Europe

Course Dates: 26/04/24 - 17/05/24
Time: 11:00 - 13:00
Location: Keeley Street
Portrait miniatures are some of the most exquisite and beguiling likenesses ever produced. Their tiny scale and painstaking creation give them an intricacy, intimacy and sense of intrigue. These often reflect the circumstances in which they were gifted to their new owners by the person commissioning them, and both the images and their wider contexts repay our close study on this course.
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Private portraits: painted miniatures in early modern Europe
  • Course Code: VB776
  • Dates: 26/04/24 - 17/05/24
  • Time: 11:00 - 13:00
  • Taught: Fri, Daytime
  • Duration: 4 sessions (over 4 weeks)
  • Location: Keeley Street
  • Tutor: Elizabeth Eyres

Course Code: VB776

Fri, day, 26 Apr - 17 May '24

Duration: 4 sessions (over 4 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Centre for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

On this course you will study the development of the portrait miniature from its origins in illuminated manuscripts, and the various techniques employed by miniaturists, or limners, as they were known at the time. We will also consider the relationship between the physical form of the portrait and its functions as a very personal keepsake or lover’s gift. The framing or way the portrait was presented could be as intricate and luxurious as the images themselves, with works often encased in gold and sometimes even encrusted with the most lavish jewels. As you will discover, the miniature portrait as a separate entity originated in the early 16th century at the French and English royal courts, beginning as an exclusive and courtly art for the very rich, but developing into one that spread further afield into other areas of society as time went on, and you will discover how this process occurred.

You will explore the work of key artists who were known for producing miniatures, including Jean Clouet, François Clouet, Hans Holbein the Younger, Levina Teerlinc, Nicholas Hilliard, Lucas Horenbout, Isaac Oliver, Peter Oliver, John Hoskins I, Samuel Cooper, Richard Gibson, Susannah Penelope Rosse, Rosalba Carriera, Nathaniel Hone, Richard Cosway, George Engleheart and others.

Discover their relationship to their patrons and the courts and circles in which they moved. You will also examine full-sized portrait paintings that represent sitters holding or wearing miniatures, as these will help us to see how treasured such tiny tokens were, revealing their roles in love, marriage and courtly life.

The course includes a visit to the V&A Museum.

What will we cover?

• We cover the development of the portrait miniature from its inception in the early 16th century to Victorian times

• We explore the different techniques used for making miniatures, and the ways in which they were framed and presented

• We will discuss the functions of the portrait miniature throughout history and the different ways in which they were consumed (used) by their owners.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

By the end of this course you should be able to:

· Explain how portrait miniatures develop from images in illuminated manuscripts to the enamelled portrait miniatures of the Victorian era

· Explain the origin of the word “miniature”

· Name at least five significant European miniature painters

· Be able to identify three different techniques used for miniature painting, explain the processes involved in their production and relate these to the different effects achieved

· Give at least three reasons for the production of portrait miniatures

· Give at least five different ways in which portrait miniatures were worn, presented and framed.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is suitable for all levels.

You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, and demonstrations. The last session of this four-session course will take place at the Victoria and Albert Museum; please see below for more information about this.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will be taught with lecture and discussion, accompanied by images in slides and in museums spaces.

All course documents will be uploaded to Google Classroom; you will be invited this digital classroom within a week of the course start date. It is possible that some course documents may be photocopied for you to use in class or in the gallery but unfortunately this cannot be guaranteed.

This course takes place at City Lit, in the classroom for the first 3 sessions. The last session will take place at the V&A Museum. Museum courses take place during public access hours. Tutors are not able to control sound levels or behaviours of visitors outside of the course group. Unless you are a wheelchair user and have confirmed access details with us (as levels of access can vary between galleries), you will need to be able to walk between exhibits and stand for some time while looking at them (you may bring your own portable stool if you have one, but unfortunately we cannot guarantee access to gallery stools). If you feel you may be impacted by these environmental variations, please inform the department on before the course begins, to discuss reasonable accommodations we can make to assist your learning in the museum space.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You might wish to purchase a notebook for taking notes. Magnifying glasses are available to borrow at the gallery but there is no guarantee that there will be enough to go round on the day, although you can of course share. This means you may wish to bring your own magnifying glass to the gallery session. However, your tutor will advise you of a type with a suitable focal length should you wish to purchase one, since the miniatures are in glass cases and you cannot put a magnifying glass very close to the exhibits.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Women Artists 1400-1800

Northern Renaissance.

Elizabeth Eyres

Liz Keevill Eyres worked as a textile designer in the fashion industry for four years and then as a magazine journalist specializing in interior design for 13 years. Her first degree was at Camberwell School of Art which she did at the same time as completing a degree in History and Art History with the Open University. Liz studied and has taught at Kingston University, where she lead modules and lectured in history of art, design history and architecture for ten years and ran study visits both at home and abroad. Liz has researched into English Modernist textile design of the 1950s and the professional practice of the provincial Edwardian architect, in particular Norwich-based architect George Skipper.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.