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  The Art of Painting Miniature Portraits 31 May 2005  
From the court of Henry VIII to the 19th Century

The painting of portraits in miniature was a highly regarded art form in the 16th century, when the sitters were kings and queens and the tiny pictures often framed with gold and precious stones.

But as art history developed in the 20th Century, miniature-painting suffered a decline in status, as grand, large scale paintings were increasingly respected. Miniature-painting was increasingly thought of as a trivial, feminine pastime.

Now a new gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is helping to change that perception. On display are 140 paintings from the V&A's collection, from the court of Henry VIII to the 19th Century, when the miniature's popularity was at its height.

Judi Herman went to the gallery to meet its curator, Katy Coombs, and Alan Derbyshire, who's in charge of preserving and restoring the miniatures

The Portrait Miniatures Gallery is open to the public at the V&A in London. 

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