Portrait miniatures

Flaunt tiny portraits of your loved ones or historical crushes with pride on your costumes! Or simply hang them on your wall.
Throughout the 1700's, miniatures were generally painted in gouache on ivory. The milky white lustre of the ivory suited the pale and rosy cheeked faces of the era better than any other material – large sections of these portraits often consist of pure, unpainted ivory with just a few, translucent dots of colour on the edges.
Count Axel von Fersen the younger, after Hall.
Watercolour and gouache on mammoth ivory. Sterling silver frame. 2007.
The ivory trade may be illegal or restricted in our time– and with good reason! - but today, alternative ivory like ivorine can be used, and if you want the real thing, recycled ivory piano keys and mammoth ivory (!) can actually be purchased legally from Polymer's Plus and Miniart Supply.
Whatever the material of the surface, however, the miniatures are always painted meticolously in gouache and watercolour in the manner of the masters of the 18th century.


I mainly use photos as models for my miniature portraits. The photo has to be very sharp and not smaller than 4x5 cms. For prices – see Prices & conditions.

Materials available


-Vellum (Calfskin. The favoured material for miniaturists of the 16th century.)
-Ivorine. Synthetic ivory that has been used by miniature painters since the early 20th century. The alternative of choice for anyone who doesn't want anything to do with animal products.
-Antique ivory piano keys.
-Mammoth ivory. Exactly what it sounds like: Genuine mammoth ivory, over 10 000 years old, recovered from the Russian permafrost. Virtually indistinguishable from elephant ivory to all but experts.
Mammoth ivory.

For optimal historical authenticity, frames with convex glass are preferable. Moreover, ivory and ivorine are non-absorbent surfaces so the picture needs to ”breathe” to avoid flaking and fading.
If you want a frame without glass, the picture can be lacquered instead. A lacquered miniature is a slightly cheaper alternative than one with glass.
Pendant frames were often made of plain gold or silver in the 18th century, so I often use simple, gold coloured brass frames for my miniatures.
22 carats gold plated or sterling silver pendant frames are also available from Mini Art Supply.

Miniature paintings can also be mounted in small pill boxes available from the above mentioned company.



3 piano keys, about 2x5 cms.
1 small piece of mammoth ivory (for 1-2 small miniatures)
1 small piece of vellum (sufficient for 1-2 miniature pendants)
2 1/2 sheets of ivorine (each measuring 20x14,5 cms)

Pendant frames/brooches

1 tiny antique pendant (2,5 cms without loop), probably gold-plated pinchbeck. 19th-early 20th century, but fits for the 18th century as well. Convex glass.

8 silver coloured pendant frames with glittering white paste stones. 5,5 cms incl hanging loop, the "inner frame" measures 3,7x3 cms. No glass.

Frames for wall hanging

3 frames with convex glass, 9,2 cms incl. loop (7,5 cms without loop)

1 frame with convex glass. 5x4 cms (6,5x4 with hanging loop) 

Sources and recommended reading:

Nationalmuseum - Europeiskt miniatyrmåleri. Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 199?