Portrait Miniatures

Philip Rosenbach purchased a collection of 450 portrait miniatures from English painter Talbot Hughes in 1928. The largest collection of oil on copper miniatures in the United States, it includes portraits painted by English, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, and French artists. In addition to the Hughes collection, the Rosenbach maintains a fine selection of American, English, and Continental miniatures in other media: watercolor on vellum, watercolor on ivory, enamel, and wax, as well as one miniaturist’s paintbox and another’s diary and account book. The portraits date from the 16th to the 19th century. Although many retain their original frames, a large number have been reframed, probably by an earlier collector, to standardize their appearance. Philip Rosenbach displayed the miniatures grouped in a series of tortoise-shell frames.

Collection Highlights

Portrait of James I

This portrait is among the earliest of the Rosenbach’s miniatures. Trained as a goldsmith and jeweller, Hilliard became the court miniaturist to Elizabeth I and James I. His skilled rendering of luxurious fabrics, metals and gems seems a natural outgrowth of his earlier employment.  The minute details of the starched…

Portrait of Thomas Powers

A Lancaster-born portrait painter, Brown turned exclusively to miniatures upon moving to Philadelphia in 1844. While the growth of photography heralded the miniature’s eventual demise, Brown used the new medium to great advantage. Sending his clients to photographers, he used the resulting images as models, freeing both parties from tedious…

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