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The Reflected Self: Portrait Miniatures, 1550-1850

Sat 21 September 2024Sun 23 February 2025

The Reflected Self: Portrait Miniatures, 1550-1850

Co-curated with portrait miniatures specialist Emma Rutherford, this sumptuous exhibition will delve into the fascinating history of portrait miniatures. Compton Verney’s 72-strong Grantchester Miniatures collection will be displayed in its entirety for the first time, along with examples from the Dumas Egerton Trust collection of over 800 miniatures – on long-term loan – and key works by individual collectors. This will provide you with a rare opportunity to view works by many of the leading miniature painters to have worked in Britain, from Isaac Oliver and Samuel Cooper to Richard Cosway and George Engleheart.

Highly personal works of art, portrait miniatures were often commissioned to mark key moments in peoples’ lives, and the exhibition will draw out some of the stories of the sitters represented. Miniatures also provide unique records of changing fashions across several centuries, from the elaborate lace ruffs of the late Elizabethan period to the colourful powdered wigs of the Georgian era, and the exhibition will also use items of costume from the collection of the Royal Shakespeare Company to demonstrate how miniatures would have been worn and viewed.

Image: Richard Cosway, A Lady © Compton Verney, photo Jamie Woodley