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18th century portrait miniature of a lady dressed in yellow, painted in enamel on copper


Artist: Gervase Spencer

To create enamel miniatures, powdered glass and metal oxides are mixed with oil to make a paste, which is then painted colour by colour onto a metal or porcelain base. After the application of each layer of colour the miniature is fired in a kiln. The first layer would cover the entire support, including its reverse, to stop it from warping in the intense heat of the kiln. The colour which had the highest firing temperature, determined by the chemical makeup of the paint, would be applied first, and the remaining colours then applied in successive order. Before the invention of temperature controlled kilns, the different firing heats would be achieved by time: around 15 minutes for the highest temperature down to 2 for the lowest.

This is a particularly attractive portrait using the colour yellow, which is rarely seen in 18th century enamel portraits
More Information
Period                 1757
Medium                 enamel on copper,
Signed                 signed with initials and dated
Condition                 Good
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