Regency Miniatures


Portrait miniatures started in 16th century Europe and was used as a method of introducing people across vast differences. The practice of painting miniatures lasted until the mid-18th century when daguerrotype portraits were first used.

For me, just the thought of miniatures being used to strike up and seal a marriage agreement is like a veritable story goldmine. It’s easy to imagine someone being painted with better features than reality. Or just before blossoming into a real beauty.

As a side note, I employed the use of a miniature in my WIP Victorian even though tintype photos were just being developed. Hey, some people are just old school, you know.

Below is a picture I took while at the Regency Revisited exhibit at the Huntington Library. Here is what it said about their collection:

” . . .18th Century Miniatures served both public and private functions. Often, the elegant gilt mounts were backed with glass, behind which a woven or braided lock of hair of the sitter’s hair would be kept, enhancing the portrait’s  role as a token of affection or remembrance.”

The amount of detail used to paint the portraits was extraordinary. This miniature is watercolor on ivory and sealed with enamel. But the first miniatures were watercolors on stretched vellum in the 16th century, to vitreous enamel painted on copper in the 17th.

Here is a better image as an example of miniature portraits.

I would imagine – since it wasn’t stated in any of the sources that I’ve read nor at the exhibit that when traveling with these miniatures, they were wrapped in oil cloth or similar and tied with string to prevent scratching. At least that’s what I’m going to say in my novel. =)

Please check out the resources below for more detailed information on miniatures, how they were painted and a whole gallery of portraits to see what people of these times thought was important to portray.

Thanks for stopping by.


Katherine Cox: Regency Era: Miniature Portraits                                   

Judy and Brian, Harden. Portrait Miniatures. Web.

“19th Century Miniature Collection.” The Tansey Collection of Miniatures. Web.

“Painting Technique.” The Tansey Collection of Miniatures. Web.>.
”Portrait miniature.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web.

Research for your novel

Ahhh, research.

It can be great fun – perusing through various blogs and search engines to find just the right tidbit of information to make your plot lines and characterization become real and satisfying.

Or, it can be the bane of your existence.

And that’s kind of what I’m feeling right now with my latest manuscript. Through excellent critique partners – both pubbed and unpubbed, I have found out that within my Victorian novel, there’s some question as to my use of Guardianship Laws.

Thus, I went about, in my usual manner and Googled “Victorian Guardianship Laws.”

To my dismay, there isn’t much information out there that was wholly useful. Yes – Google did it’s job by spitting out all the websites that specifically say, “Victorian Guardianship Laws,” plus all the other crazy information that comes with it. But none of the first few pages actually dealt with the Victorian era.

Argh!!! What do you do when Google fails you????

Luckily for me – I belong to an online historical chapter called the Beau Monde ( where they have an excellent loop where I asked my question, even though it wasn’t specifically on the time period of the chapter (which is the Regency) but they gave me something important . . . another place to look.

So – now I am going back to Google, BUT I am going to Google Books and I’m going to do select my specific time period and away I go. Wish me luck.

By the way – how do you research?