Capturing the Likeness:
19th Century Portrait Miniatures
Exhibition by the Curatorial Department
DuBois Fort Visitor Center, 81 Huguenot Street
May 7 – July 6, 2016
The art of miniature portrait-making came to America from Europe in the 18th century. It was highly popular until the late 19th century when photography took hold. Originally, the idea of painting miniatures came from two sources: portrait metals from classical antiquity and illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages. In most cases, the likenesses were given to loved ones and valued as treasures. Portrait miniatures took just as long to make as full-sized paintings because of the necessary small detail. Most of the time, the medium was watercolor on ivory and pieces were framed in cases that could be opened and closed. Miniaturists traveled the countryside to make profit by creating silhouettes as well, an option that was cheaper than a miniature oil or watercolor.
Capturing the Likeness: 19th-Century Portrait Miniatures features nine portrait miniatures and silhouettes. This exhibit explores both the creation of the miniatures as well as the prominent early 19th-century Hudson Valley families that they depict. Two of the major families in this exhibit are the family members of Brigadier General Henry Cornelius Hasbrouck and the ancestors of Governor DeWitt Clinton. Works by prominent artists of the time, John Carlin and Anthony Meucci, are presented.