Portrait miniatures

The V&A holds the UK's finest collection of portrait miniatures with 2000 examples spanning their development from the 16th to the 19th century. These small, portable portraits were often invested with great symbolism or significance, both politically and personally – painted to be held and viewed closely, and to be presented as tokens of loyalty, friendship or love.

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The collection has outstanding examples from artists including Hans Holbein, Nicholas Hilliard, Samuel Cooper, Rosalba Carriera, Susanna Penelope Rosse, John Smart, Richard Cosway, Jean-Baptiste Isabey, Anne Mee and Sarah Biffin.

Collection highlights


Header image:

Anne of Cleves, portrait miniature in ivory box, by Hans Holbein, 1539. Museum no. P.153-1910. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London