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Miniature painting

Miniature painting is portait painting "in little", usually executed in gouache or watercolor.

Portrait miniature painting began to flourish in 16th-century Europe and was practiced during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was especially valuable in introducing people to each other over distances; a nobleman proposing the marriage of his daughter might send a courier with her portrait to visit potential suitors. Soldiers and sailors might carry miniatures of their loved ones while travelling, or a wife might keep one of her husband while he was away.

The first miniaturists used watercolor to paint on stretched vellum, but in the 18th century, miniatures were also painted on ivory and enamel. As small in size as 1½ × 1¼ inches, portrait miniatures were often used as personal mementos or as jewelry or snuff box covers.

In the second half of the 19th century, the development of daguerreotypes and photographs contributed to the decline in popularity of the miniatures.

The term can also refer to miniature figure painting, as used in wargaming or role-playing games.

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