To quote from Robin Jaffe Frank’s book Love and Loss: American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures, “Portrait miniatures, small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, are uniquely personal works of art. From colonial times to the age of photography, they were often commissioned to commemorate births, engagements, marriages, deaths, and journeys.”.
I had the opportunity to photograph 38 of these “Minis” as they are known for short. This was a similar collaboration with the Yale University Art Gallery as I’ve done in the past, like 1000+ Ancient Coins and Swid Powell. Three weeks were spent photographing the objects, recto and verso (front and back). Some of the objects were the same published ten years ago in Robin’s book Love and Loss at the early stages of digital photography. The reason to re-shoot many of these objects years later was to capture them as high resolution original RGB files that can be properly managed and archived. Unfortunately, in some cases the images retained from ten years ago were CMYK converted files and of only 1:1 resolution. The images I made of course are wide gamut 16bit RGB tiffs, often with a possible magnification of 5:1 if printed (300dpi) and even larger when displayed at screen resolution (72dpi). The remaining images are newly photographed objects on long term loan or as promised gifts.
Photographing these unique objects provides not only publication quality images, but also highly valuable research possibilities with high resolution reproductions. The Art Gallery is also planning to use these images at digital exhibition kiosks next to the originals on display. The public will be able to see both sides of the Minis and zoom digitally in to minute details.
Below are a couple choice objects. Check out the Minis project page , where you can see some zoomify examples (see detail up close) and more images. Unfortunately I can’t show all images (loan or promised gift objects are excluded).
Thanks to the helpful Art Gallery staff and especially Robin Jaffee Frank, Alice and Allan Kaplan Senior Associate Curator American Paintings and Sculpture at Yale University Art Gallery.