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Talking Pictures Week 3: Miniature Family Portraits

Miniature Portrait of a Gentleman, artist unknown, watercolour on paper, painting measures 3.5cm x 2.8cm

Talking Pictures for Children 

Talking Pictures is an online resource for children and their adults based on artwork from the Crawford Art Gallery Collection. We will share creative prompts for happy talk and play every Wednesday. 

About the artwork

This is a very small painting, called a miniature, of a man from the 19th century. He is wearing his best suit, he has nice furry sideburns and carefully combed hair but we do not know his name.

Miniature paintings were made before the invention of photography, they are paintings that you can hold in the palm of your hand. Miniature portraits were given as a special gift to a family member. They were placed in a locket, a watch cover or a little box so that they were easy to carry when travelling.

Miniatures were painted on ivory, made from elephant tusks, vellum which is calfskin, metal and even old playing cards! Sailors and soldiers gave their families miniature pictures of themselves so that they could feel close to their family when they were away.

Let’s Play!

Can you give our miniature friend a name?

Draw an extremely small house for our miniature friend!

Can you imagine miniature rooms with tiny furniture?

Would he like to read a miniature book or have a plate of miniscule food?

Imagine our miniature friend’s family, who does he live with?

Imagine the conversation he will have with his miniature family?

What does his tiny voice sound like?

Write a miniature tale about his day

Does he have a family pet?

 Portrait Miniature of Francis Roland as a Boy,  water colour on ivory
by Frederick Buck (c.1820). 

Make your own miniature family!

Missing your granny or grandad? Make a miniature grandparent! 

Take a picture and ask an adult to help you to send it to them, telling them all about miniatures.

Make your own miniature portrait, put it in a matchbox. Decorate the box with your initials and share with your family.

Shrink your family! Make miniature portraits of your family

Families are brilliant!
Can you make a miniature story telling us all about your brilliant family? Use a piece of paper no bigger than your hand. 

Families are annoying! 
Imagine that your family are tiny animals that you can put into a little matchbox. Draw your family as animals in miniature, what animals would they be?  Draw your animal-family having breakfast or watching your favourite television programme! 

Want to see more miniature portraits from our collection? Just click the ‘Collections’ tab and search ‘Miniatures’!

Don’t forget, you can share your own Talking Pictures creations with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag

Emmett Place, Cork, Ireland
T12 TNE6
Tel: 021 480 5042

Opening Hours
N.B. Last entry is 15 minutes before closing

Monday–Saturday 10.00am–5.00pm*
Thursday until 8.00pm

Sundays and Bank Holidays
11.00 am4.00pm

*Second floor closes 15 minutes before closing
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