From ancient sculpture to framed paintings, portraits reflect the human desire to capture a person's likeness. While large paintings are not very portable, portrait miniatures provide a convenient way to keep images of loved ones close at hand. Before photography, portrait miniatures were so popular that many artists specialized in the genre.
The Starr Miniature collection is comprised more than 250 portrait miniatures, and this exhibition highlights the best European examples. Nicholas Hilliard—exclusive miniaturist to Queen Elizabeth I of England—was a master of graphic and colorful representations of his subjects. Works by Samuel Cooper demonstrate dramatic modelling, while Jean-Etienne Liotard's attention to his sitter's attire echoed his detailed larger works (on view in P18). The noted English miniaturist John Smart is represented with three portraits demonstrating his emphasis on the sitters' expressive features, rather than their dress or setting.