Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Visit to The Royal Miniature Society Exhibition

If you go down to the Mall today, you're sure of a big surprise....

Held annually at the prestigious Mall Galleries, (just up from Buckingham Palace!) the RMS offers a two week feast of today's top miniature painters' latest works. Entrance is free!

Last Monday, the Gallery was full of people who had come to see the opening ceremony and presentations. Starting from a couple of hundred pounds, original masterworks were on sale and being snapped up by eager collectors. For those looking to spend a smaller sum, beautiful and exclusive greeting cards, representing the works of winning exhibitors, are also on sale.

The Exhibition was opened by Rupert Maas who also presented the Golden Bowl award for the best piece in any medium. Rupert is the picture expert for the BBC's Antiques Roadshow. He was introduced by Elizabeth Meek, the President of the Society.

The Gold Bowl was crafted by Garrard, the Crown Jewellers, in 18 carat gold. The magnificent Bowl was donated to the Society by the previous President, Suzanne Lucas, who being a very practical lady, suggested that if the RMS should ever fall on hard times, the Bowl could be sold to save the Society!

The Gold Bowl Award was won by Iain Gardiner for his work called 'Reflection 4'. He was given a smaller silver gilt replica to keep.

'Reflection 4'.
Although not a portrait miniature we were impressed by the skill and technique of his complicated conversation piece on today's consumerism.

It was then we saw the the genius of Iain's painting ability with the large painting of his mother and father (on the wall behind him). The painting is 22 1/2 x 18 in (56.5 x 46 cm) and is painted in the miniature painting style. The painting took six months to complete and was selected for the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery.

A close up of the faces shows the incredible detail in the painting

Even the shirt is painted showing the material 'fluffing' on the edge!

While at the exhibition we met artist and author, Katherine Tyrrell, who runs a web site called and also one of the worlds most popular blogs on art, This is an excellent site for reports on all the art exhibitions in the UK .


  1. Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful pictures. It was fascinating too, to be able to see the large portrait by the winning miniature painter that was selected for the BP. Was it typical or unusual to allow the winner to show a larger work also?

  2. Dear Mona, we are glad you liked the post of the RMS exhibition. It is really worth seeing. It is interesting that you ask about allowing a larger work to be shown. Actually, the BP portrait was not an exhibit, as there are rules about size. It merely adorned the walls! Interestingly, it was still painted in the miniature style (i.e. minute brush strokes) and therefore qualified as a miniature painting in the broadest sense (sorry about the pun!) Although not selected as the winner for the BP prize, Iain's painting almost scored as the Visitor Choice (short only of 20 votes!)

  3. Thank you. A UK artist friend, Tracy, explained that Royal Miniature Society allows the artists to hang a larger painting to help decorate the walls. Although we don't do this in most U.S. competitions, I think it's useful and interesting to see the artist's miniature paintings in the context of their larger work. The portrait detail is certainly amazing!

  4. Inch for inch, one of the world’s most valuable paintings is now on view in London.

    Not only is the 4.8cm circular watercolour on vellum one of the earliest portrait miniatures painted in England, but inch for inch the remarkable image of Henry VIII is one of the world’s most valuable watercolours. Painted around 1525 by Lucas Horenbout (died 1544), the painting is one of over 30 stunning Royal Portrait Miniatures on view at the Mall Galleries, London until 23 October.
    Other highlights include three miniatures given as personal gifts from Queen Victoria. One, housed in a gold frame set with circular brilliant-cut diamonds, was gave by the Queen to Sir Henry Morton Stanley, who acquired almost mythic status for his question “Dr Livingstone I Presume”.
    The exhibition forms part of the Royal Miniatures Society’s (RMS) Annual Exhibition of over 650 contemporary miniatures and sculptures and in his Foreword to the exhibition catalogue, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales says: “By bringing together this group of miniatures, some lent from well-known collections, others from individual lenders, the Society has afforded an opportunity to study and enjoy miniatures that would otherwise be inaccessible”.