What Is Miniature Painting?There are many way of defining a miniature painting. Each culture and time period has its own guidelines based upon professional and public opinion. Here we offer a variety of guidelines towards a definition of miniature painting. Please refer to the society websites or exhibition prospectuses for further details when entering these shows. For a scholarly approach to the definition of miniature art and the philosophies guiding contemporary miniaturists, please refer to the book: MODERN MASTERS OF MINIATURE ART IN AMERICA by Wes Siegrist, 2010, ISBN 978-0-9821278-3-4 (268 pages)
Available online for free via Google Books or see www.miniatureartistsofamerica.org/book.html
While the Association of Miniature Artists recognizes and encourages individuality, experimentation and future changes in the miniature art movement the AMA exists to provide a common ground among members especially in the context of defining their work to the public. As a member of the AMA you choose to agree with the following statements:
The AMA definition represents the first worldwide standard to be adopted by practicing miniaturists. It is also the standard definition for the Miniature Artists of America Society.
[The Association of Miniature Artists, 2007]
Each of these points is taken into consideration by the judges on Selection Day.
The miniature by virtue of its detail and the finest execution
of medium must stand up to the closest inspection, whilst at the
same time hold its own with good composition and tonal balance
when viewed from afar. A wide variety of media is used on
surfaces such as paper, Ivorine, Ivorex and others from
specialist suppliers. Works also include those of enamellers and
engravers. It is the great variety of subjects, media and
techniques which serve to keep miniature art alive and a constant
The RMS defines miniature solely by technique. At present the size limit is 6x4½ inches inclusive of framing.* Full members may exceed this rule but are requested to keep to the rules as much as possible. Scale is limited to 2 inches or less for human heads or single objects. The Society's Aims are to Esteem, Protect and Practice the traditional 16th Century art of miniature painting emphasizing the infinite patience needed for its fine techniques.
THE SPIRIT OF A MINIATURE: This unique art form, based on a minute scale, traces its roots back to the book paintings and illuminated manuscripts set in the 7th century. A work of fine art in miniature is a particularly personal object that draws the viewer into an intimate, concentrated little world that is breathtaking in its execution.
Miniature paintings and sculptures are fine art on a small scale, with minute attention to detail, which can withstand close inspection or enlargement. As a guideline (not a rule) for a general definition of small scale, a subject should be no larger than 1/6th actual size. (A human head is about 9 inches so the painted head should be no larger than 1½".)
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This website, art-in-miniature.org, was established May 1996 by Caroline Hayes. As of June 2012, it is maintained by Wes Siegrist. Images on this website were used by permission by Caroline Hayes and/or Wes Siegrist.