Tuesday, October 11, 2011

REVIEW: Miniature Art Society Annual Exhibition 2011

Today I attended the Annual Exhibition of The Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers in the North Gallery of the Mall Galleries.  This year it incorporates a Special Loan Exhibition of Royal Portrait Miniatures from Queen Elizabeth 1 (1533 - 1603) to Queen Elizabeth II (1926-present).

Queen Victoria (1890) by Henry Charles Heath
A small section of the Annual Exhibition of the The Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers
Some 670 works of miniature art are on display in the Exhibition which continues until 1pm on Sunday 23rd October.

This is the premier Exhibition to go to see the standard of miniature art in the UK.  As always the work is displayed impeccably in the special display cases which are angled so as to see the work to best effect.

The exhibition also includes Miniature Sculpture and tiny boxes with intricate designs
The 2011 Awards

This Society has a suite of Awards open to Members, Associate members and other artists submitting work.  This year the Award winners this year are listed below.  I've commented on some of them in detail.
  • The RMS Gold Memorial Bowl AND The Bonham Portrait Award - Ihtesham Hassan.  Those familiar with the regular size red dot used to signify a sold painting will appreciate how small this work of art is and what a fantastic portrait this is.  It's a very worthy winner of two special awards including the much coveted top award.
Mirage by Ihtesham Hassan ARMS
oil on vellum
  • President's Special Commendation (Miniature Work) - Erica Youngman ARMS HS - who has the distinction of winning both this award plus gaining a Gold Bowl Honorable Mention with two really splendid paintings of Venice.  I admired her Dutch street scenes last year when she also got a Gold Bowl Honorable Mention and surely it can only be a matter of time before she wins the Gold Bowl outright
Works by Erica Youngman
  • President's Special Commendation (Large Work) - Joyce Rogerson
  • RMS Group Award for the best collection of five or more Miniature Works (£500) Rob Ritchie.  This was a group of still life paintings with a self-portrait centre-bottom of the display.
Works by Rob Ritchie
Polyptych by Kiril Tomanov Kirilov
miniature carving on boxwood
  • Llewellyn Alexander Subject Miniature Award (£500) - Pam Mullings
  • Peter Charles Booth Memorial Award - Marian Tumelty
  • Anita Emmerich Presentation Award - Helen White - Helen gained a Masters Degree in Traditional Arts at The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, with Distinction.  I've seen the traditional arts works on display at the Princes Drawing School and have always found them fascinating.  Helen now works as an Illuminator and Designer, and also works in Ceramics.  Her works in the show had one of the most interesting lists of media used - one example listed "gold leaf, shell gold and watercolour with amethysts and tourmaline on vellum"!
Illuminated Rose Window by Helen White
Byzantine Leaf (gold leaf, shell gold and gouache with sapphire on vellum)
  • Anthony J Lester Art Critic Award - Elizabeth Meek PRMS, PPSWA, FRSA
  • The Arturi Phillips 'Connaisseur' Award (a new award in 2011) - Vikki Middleton
I commented in details in last year's post about the exhibition in general and the same points also apply this year.  I'd urge those who are thinking of entering to take a look at what I said then - Review: Miniature Art Society Annual Exhibition

I did note that Kate Clarke, who has won the top prize at the UKCPA Annual Exhibition, had a work in this year's show.  I think this is the first time I've seen coloured pencil art in the show.  It would certainly be interesting to see whether more coloured pencil artists can get works accepted into the show and achieve the level of finish of the best works by the watercolourists and oil painters.

Other artists whose work I liked this year included:
  • I personally would have given Joyce Rowsell RMS MAA HSF MASF MPSGS CPA's set of landscapes of Finland a prize.  They were stunning.  I was also intrigued to see that she painting in oil on silk.  Her display also included paintings of St Paul's Cathedral - Joyce took part in an exhibition at St Paul's last year to celebrate the 300th birthday of the cathedral
Paintings of snow in Finland and Somerset by Joyce Rowsell
oil on silk
  • the animal portraits and calligraphy of Debby Faulkner-Stevens RMS SWA HS - which I always look out for each year.  You can see more of her work on her website.  All works in the show were priced at a very reasonable £230.
Works by Debby Faulkner-Stevens RMS SWA HS
  • I thought Dorothy J Abrehart ARMS SLm's group of animal portraits was most attractive and it must have been a strong contender for the group prize.
Works by Dorothy J Abrehart ARMS SLm
  • I also admired - again - the still life work of Barbara Valentine - which I last saw at the Florum exhibition.  There was more work in this exhibition!  Some readers will be interested to note that Barbara is a miniature art tutor.  
Miniature still life - with parakeets - by Barbara Valentine
oil on ivorine
The Loan Exhibition of portraits of members of the royal family (and Cromwell!) was very well presented.  It was very interesting to compare the sizes, format and presentation of the work - particularly within the context of the contemporary miniature art which surrounded it.  I was amazed at just how small some of the miniature artwork was. Below you can see a couple of the cabinets in the display

Part of the Special Loan Exhibition

As usual members of the society will be demonstrating how they work during the course of the exhibition.

Later in the week look out for a post about Jenny Brooks who was demonstrating at the exhibition.  She very kindly allowed me to have a good look at the set-up and tools she uses to complete her work - and I'll be showing you these in the post.

Other demonstrations will be given by:

Information about Miniature Art

For those interested in Miniature Art, Miniature Art - Resources for Artists which includes links to lots of sites about art societies, art exhibitions, contemporary miniature art and art materials used by the miniature artist

It also lists previous reviews of the Annual Exhibitions of the The Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers.


  1. Thanks so much for doing such a great review of the show Katherine, it looks stunning. I was supposed to make it down this year but managed to get my dates wrong - so this is the next best thing!

  2. Thanks Tracy.

    One of yours has already sold - I'm sending you an email containing a photo of what yours looked like in the bases!

  3. Thank you for sharing this review of the show. I desperately wanted to go (being a fan of the v&a miniature collection and the story of Levina Teerlinc) but I'm heavily pregnant and now on bed rest so I've been moping about it all at home. I really wish I could have seen all this in person. If anyone is willing to carry me around the exhibition please let me know ;D Erica Youngmans work made me tingle. So beautiful and absorbing.

  4. The Special Loan Collection of Royal Portrait Miniatures is being very well received. Of great interested is the watercolour on vellum of Henry VIII - painted around 1525, it is one of the earliest portrait miniatures painted in the UK.
    Sales for the contemporary miniatures are well ahead of last year, which was one of the Society's best years. The demand for contemporary miniatures just keeps growing.
    Anthony J Lester, Hon.RMS, FRSA

  5. Katherine, although I am not a participant in this show, I wish I'd been able to visit England just to see it, particularly with the Royal Portrait Miniatures on display too! I can't thank you enough for the detailed post with all these pictures, it's wonderful to see!

  6. Thanks for this post.I read it just before I went up to the Society of Marine Artists' exhibition and thought I would at least go and look for the portrait of Queen Victoria. I was very interested to see the group of Royal miniatures.
    I already knew the work of several of the artists who have shown with the Society of Women Artists.
    I borrowed a magnifying glass and got much more out of it as a result, otherwise I may well have not spent so long in there.

  7. You can always tell a serious visitor by their magnifying glass!

  8. Thank you Katherine for your much appreciated comments on my Finnish Paintings.I was pleased to see what they looked like in place as I was unable to attend. I regret very much missing the Royal Portraits. They look well in your photograph -some very famous ones there!
    Joyce Rowsell


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