Miniature Portraits. The Paola Sancassani collection
Written by Love in Venice on 7 April 2018
The Foudation Musei Civici di Venezia (MUVE) presents at Correr Museum a, little but preciuos, miniature portraits collection dated XVIII-XIV century.
The portraits recently arrived at the museum thanks to the generous donation by Paola Sancassani, born in Verona but Venetian in her soul, who grew a truly interest in art. The works are made mainly by Italians, but some came from French and English schools. The portraits are in temporary loan from her private collection, and during the exhibition at Correr Museum the works will be accompanied with some memoirs celebrating Napoleon Bonaparte and his glorious deeds.
Through the fine art of miniature – a specialisation deeply appreciated and reserched during the XIX century, which produced some celebrated artists – from 12 April 2018 at Correr Museum, you can admire the faces of man and women who lived in Napoleonic era.
Most of them are anonimous but some belong to well-known characters starting from the same Emperor.
In Europe, during the Empire and also after its end, the legend and mith of the Great Corsican motivated the creation of various objects.
This idea of regain and preserve evocative fragments of that crucial moment inspired the collection exposed nowadays, under the scientific direction of Gabriella Belli.
At Correr Museum you’ll discover fascinating miniature-portraits of Napoleon, his family and generals, as well as characters which are anonimous in the contemporary: for the elevate quality we point out the portrait of François-Joseph Talma (1763-1826), a great actor, and the portrait of Charlotte Stuart Duchess of Albany (1753-1789).
Among the memoirs the delightful perfume box in gold and lacquer, a love token from Orazio Nelson to Lady Hamilton, stands out from all the others. Paintings, battlefields prints, medals and coins complete the collection, telling us a story about this short and contradictory era which marked a turning point in modern history.
Following the 18th century definition, the miniature is that kind of paint in which the artist uses, especially on ivory, colours diluted in gum arabic water only to dot the skin tone, and “gouache” tecnique to create the landscapes.
In particular, this type of portraits handles from cameos and medals tradition but with different purpose. Medals’ aim was only to celebrate the subject while miniatures, for its uniqueness, attempted to connect with the intimate realm, memories dimension or sentimental token.
Since XVI century the art of miniature portrait was exercised by great artists, but became popular among amateurs too. It reached its pick in XVII century and during the XIX it had its best, but short, season. The production was intense in quality and quantity but short in time because of daguerreotype invention in 1839. Daguerreotype, and then the invention of photography, marked miniature decline and end.