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Brooklyn Society of Miniature Painters: Five Centuries of Miniature Painting

DATES April 03, 1936 through June 01, 1936
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  • April 4, 1936 The Brooklyn Museum will open to the public on Saturday, April 4, an Exhibition Of Five Centuries of Miniature Painting which traces the history of this art in Europe and America and also presents a representative group of the best miniatures by American contemporaries. The exhibition has been assembled by the Brooklyn Society of Miniature Painters, Mrs. Alexandrina R. Harris, President, and installed under the auspices of the Department of Contemporary Art, Mr. Herbert B. Tschudy, Curator.

    Four miniatures never before shown have been exhibited. They are attributed to Gilbert Stuart. The portrait of Lawrence Reid Yates is especially fine. The lender is Miss Charles F. T. Lull of Washington.

    There are several miniatures of the Roosevelt family, one of the President’s great grandfather, James Roosevelt, by Joseph Wood, one of his mother, Mrs. James Roosevelt by Madame Debillemont Chardon, President for many years of the Miniature Society of France, and one of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. All are lent by Mrs. James Roosevelt.

    The historical section of this exhibition includes the following: Two portrait miniatures in Limoges enamel by Leonard Limousin, XVIth Century, among the earliest European miniatures and very fine, lent by John M. Schiff; twenty four enamel miniatures, mostly French and English, XVIIth and XIXth Centuries, lent by Mrs. Isaac D. Levy; several fine early European miniatures from the collection of Mrs. Leopold Frederick; a Fragonard and two Isabey miniatures lent by Mrs. Harold Stone of Syracuse, N. Y.; a group of nine important miniatures (mostly French and English but including one by Goya) lent by Mrs. J. Madison Taylor of Philadelphia; a group of twelve American, English and French miniatures lent by Mrs. Daniel J. McCarthy of Philadelphia; a large group of English and French eye miniatures lent by the Pennsylvania Museum of Art; thirty seven miniatures (mostly American) lent by Mrs. John Hill Morgan (the largest group from a single lender); thirteen American miniatues lent by Herbert L. Pratt; and several American miniatures from the Erskine Hewitt Collection. Other lenders are Mrs. Henry Breckinridge, Mr. Albert Rosenthal, Miss Carolyn Prince, and Mrs. Robert M. Littejohn.

    Among the contemporary painters represented are the following: Elizabeth S. Graham; Alexandrian Robertson Harris, President of the Brooklyn Society of  Miniatures Painters; Maragaret Foote Hawley; Laura Coombs Hills; Jeanne Payne Johnson; I. A. Josephi, Founder and original President of the American Society  of Miniature Painters, Nicolas S. Macsoud, Founder of the Brooklyn Society of Miniature Painteres; Elsie Dodge Patte, President of the American Society of  Miniature Painters, and Madel R. Welch.

    The miniature portrait has been rightly called the most personal of all forms of art. Small enough to be carried or worn on the person, it is cherished by  its owner not only as an object of art by as a precious reminder of one who is loved or esteemed.

    These diminutive likenesses came into being with the Renaissance and seem to have been an expression of the general revival of interest in human personality. Painted for the most part in the flat, linear style of the illuminated manuscript, they were called in England liminings, and those who made them were known as limners, terms traceable to illuminated manuscripts, and to the Latin "illuminare," to paint. Gradually, however, people began to call them miniatures, not as popularly supposed, becaasue of their small size, but again because of their association with illuminated manuscripts. The word came from "miniator," meaning painter of illuminated manuscripts, which in turn was derived from the Latin "minium," meaning red paint. As the years passed, it became confused with the French "mignon" and the Latin "minus," and was applied to any object of small proportions and especially to a painting small enough to be easily held in the hand.


    In connection with showing of moving pictures of The Making of Glass in the special exhibition galleries at the Brooklyn Museum, a second pictures an Optical Glass is also being shown. These pictures are shown daily through April 20. The schedule of showing is as follows:

    Monday to Friday; 1-5 P.M.
    Saturday; 10 A.M.-6 P.M.
    Sunday; 2-6 P.M.

    Admission is free, except Monday and Fridays, which are pay days at the Museum when the admission fee is $.25 for adults and $.10 for children. School classes are admitted free at all times.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1931 - 1936. 04-06_1936, 048.
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