Wednesday, October 15, 2014

In Miniature: Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City

My favorite artist is Hans Holbein, the Younger. I think that there is no other artist in his lifetime who had his ability to make genuinely lifelike portraits during the 16th century. As a result, in the course of my travels whenever I get a chance to view Holbein paintings I make the detour and view them.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is providing a rare opportunity to see several of their 16th, 17th and 18th century miniatures in a special one gallery exhibition "In Miniature." These tiny paintings are rarely on display due to their fragility.  The exhibition is not very large (hah!). It includes 16th century works by Holbein and Nicholas Hilliard. The museum also thoughtfully provides magnifying glasses so that viewers can see the incredible detail on these paintings most of which are less than 2 inches in size.

The paintings are exhibited on the wall behind glass. Pictures are permitted without flash. Apologies for the glare.
There are three Holbeins on view.
This is William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southhampton, It was cut down in size at some later date, losing some of the costume detail.
William Roper, the son-in-law of Sir Thomas More. Note the exquisite setting for the painting.
Margaret More Roper, Sir Thomas More's daughter. What strikes you about this painting this her careworn face. Margaret was thirty when she was painted. She looks much older. This is post the turmoil she and her family faced over her father's arrest, trial and execution.

A portrait of a young man, believed to be Robert Devereux 2nd Earl of Essex and favorite of Queen Elizabeth I. Painted by Nicholas Hilliard, rightly celebrated as a master of miniature portraiture.

Portrait of a Young Woman by Hilliard.

The rest of the exhibition is includes miniatures from England in the 17th century and France in the 18th century.  There a few full-sized paintings in the gallery to compare to the miniatures including a fine portrait of Princess Elizabeth daughter of King James VI and I and Queen Anne of Denmark.

In Miniature is on exhibit in Gallery 624 of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City through December 31, 2014.  For information on the museum including hours of operation, ticket costs and directions please visit

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