Event details

Friday 26 July | 11am - midday

£15 per person

Portrait miniatures were particularly significant when it came to recording childhood at Chatsworth. As private images, miniatures were usually worn on clothing or as jewellery and were regarded as the most realistic likenesses before the invention of photography. 

While miniatures were often used to celebrate childhood milestones (for example when young boys were 'breeched' in the 18th and 19th century, leaving the skirts that left them indistinguishable from their sisters behind) this was often recorded in a miniature portrait. Teenage girls were often painted by miniaturists as they reached a marriageable age - although as this talk will show, the relative ephemeral nature of miniatures meant they could indulge in the latest fashions which would never be allowed in an oil portrait. But there was darker side to childhood expressed in miniature too - as part of a mourning ritual for the upper classes, these tiny portraits often represented the last glimpse that parents had of their children. 

Intimate, secretive and portable, portrait miniatures reveal a reality not found in any other type of portrait.

About Emma Rutherford

Emma Rutherford is a freelance art historian specialising in portrait miniatures and silhouettes; in 2023 she started The Limner Company

Emma began her career working in the Victoria and Albert Museum whilst completing an MA in Victorian Art and Architecture. She was Departmental Director at Bonhams Auctioneers before running a portrait miniatures consultancy at Philip Mould & Co., London. Emma curated and co-curated many exhibitions at the gallery, most recently “Without Hands”; The Art of Sarah Biffin (1 November - 21 December 2022).

She has made many significant discoveries, including a signed portrait of King of France Henri III by Jean Decourt in 2020; the earliest known European portrait miniature of a black sitter, a portrait of Prince Zaga Christ by Giovanni Garzoni in 2019, now at the Allen Memorial Art Museum; and a lost portrait miniature of Charles Dickens in 2017, now at the Charles Dickens Museum.

Emma is a member of the specialist British Art Network and a trustee for The Drug of Art charity.

About the talk

Doors will be open from 10.45am. A cup of tea or coffee is included in your ticket. 


The Hartington Room is a step free venue located at the Stables, please note on your booking if you require space for a wheelchair or mobility scooter.

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