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Part of The American Wing
Alvan Clark (1804–1887)
Date: ca. 1839Accession Number: 27.84.3
Reuben Moulthrop (1763–1814)
Date: 1790Accession Number: 65.254.2
Samuel King (American, Newport, Rhode Island ca. 1748–1819 Newport, Rhode Island)
Date: 1770Accession Number: 68.222.26
Robert Field (American (born England), Gloucestershire ca. 1769–1819 Kingston, Jamaica)
Date: ca. 1800Accession Number: 2006.235.67
Anna Claypoole Peale (1791–1878)
Date: 1832Accession Number: 27.221
Date: ca. 1900Accession Number: 2006.235.65
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The tradition of miniature painting—tiny watercolor portraits on ivory—emerged in America in the eighteenth century. Based on European models, portrait miniatures are related to ancient and medieval devotional paintings and illuminated manuscripts. Originally made to be worn or carried, each is inextricably tied to its function as memento, love token, or reliquary. The works in this gallery portray husbands, wives, lovers, and children, both living and dead, and commemorate births, deaths, and marriages. The miniatures have been placed in a range of mounts, including metal lockets, other types of jewelry, and pocket-sized leather cases. After the invention of the daguerreotype in 1839, many miniaturists abandoned their art, but some chose to compete with photography. A later revival of the tradition endured into the early decades of the twentieth century.
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