Portrait of a Woman. Guillermo Ducker, 1804

The collection of miniatures in the Museo del Prado

Our knowledge of the techniques and methods used by miniaturists when creating their works derives from the numerous instruction books and treatises written by the artists themselves. From a scientific and technical viewpoint, the study undertaken by the Museo del Prado’s Restoration Department on the conservation of the Museum’s miniatures collection has increased our knowledge of these techniques. The present article is thus intended as an addition to the information provided in the treatises in question.

The works in the Museo del Prado's miniatures collection are executed in a wide range of pictorial techniques. Most are miniatures painted on ivory but there are others on vellum, oil on copper, enamel on copper, paper and porcelain. There are also examples of the curious and inferior quality miniatures produced in the second half of the nineteenth century that aimed to imitate old miniatures, with the sitters dressed in earlier styles but depicted using photographic emulsions and plastic supports that provided cheaper and technically easier results. The largest group within the Museum's collection are the miniatures painted on ivory, for which reason this is the type that has been studied in the most depth.

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