Milwaukee Art Museum -- Info

Small artworks speak volumes; Portrait miniatures on view July 8-October 31


Posted on May 10th, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE      

Press contacts:
Kristin Settle
414/224-3246
kristin.settle@mam.org

Vicki Scharfberg
414/224-3243
vicki.scharfberg@mam.org        

SMALL ARTWORKS SPEAK VOLUMES
Portrait miniatures served as mementos, marriage announcements, political statements

Milwaukee, Wis – May 10, 2010 – The Milwaukee Art Museum has organized the exhibition Intimate Images of Love and Loss: Portrait Miniatures, which will be on view in its Koss Gallery from Thursday, July 8, through Sunday, October 31, 2010. This exhibition will mark the first time that the Museum’s extensive collection of portrait miniatures will be on display.

“Portrait miniatures are small-scale portraits, most less than three inches tall, usually painted on ivory and set into beautifully made cases of glass and metal,” says Catherine Sawinski, assistant curator of earlier European art. “Their small scale reflected their domestic and private role. Often the portraits would be worn as jewelry, although in the early nineteenth century, they also were hung on the wall of the home as a type of family album.”

Intimate Images of Love and Loss: Portrait Miniatures will feature selections both from the Museum’s Collection and from a number of Milwaukee collections. Examples from continental Europe, Britain, and America will be on display.

The portrait miniature was developed during the sixteenth century to mark political alliances between nobles, but the demand for portrait miniatures as mementos skyrocketed with the rise of the middle class and the tendency towards sentimentality in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Often miniatures were framed with arrangements of hair from the one portrayed to strengthen the personal connection or as a remembrance of a deceased loved one.

The exhibition will also consider the interaction between portrait miniatures and photography during the second half of the nineteenth century.

“The historical significance of the portrait miniature cannot be overstated,” says Sawinski. “Just like larger paintings, these were done to commemorate life and love, and they give us a window to the past.”

EXHIBITION SPONSORS
Intimate Images of Love and Loss: Portrait Miniatures is sponsored by the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Fine Arts Society, with additional support from Nancy and Arthur J. Laskin, Helen Peter Love, and Sharon and William Treul.

HOURS AND ADMISSION
The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Thursdays until 8 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults and $10 for students, seniors and active military, and is free for Museum Members and children 12 and under.

ABOUT THE MUSEUM
The Milwaukee Art Museum’s far-reaching holdings include more than 20,000 works spanning antiquity to the present day. With a history dating back to 1888, the Museum houses a collection with strengths in 19th- and 20th-century American and European art, contemporary art, American decorative arts, and folk and self-taught art. The Museum includes the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion, named by Time magazine as “Best Design of 2001.” For more information, please visit www.mam.org.

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ADDITIONAL PROGRAMMING FOR INTIMATE IMAGES OF LOVE AND LOSS: PORTRAIT MINIATURES

Gallery Talk with the Curator
Tuesday, September 7 1:30 p.m. | Catherine Sawinski

Gallery Talk: Conservation and Technique
Tuesday, September 21, 1:30 p.m. | Terri White, associate conservator, and Catherine Sawinski

Gallery Talk: Costume in Miniature
Tuesday, October 5, 1:30 p.m. | Mary Nowakowski, costume connoisseur

For additional information, images, or interviews, please contact:
Kristin Settle
414/224-3246
kristin.settle@mam.org