Definition of term:: Miniature

  • "(1) To miniate (from minium, meaning red lead) meant originally to colour or paint with vermilion, to rubricate or illuminate. But miniatures have come to denote the painted scenes, anecdotes, groups of figures or the like, distinct from conventional decoration and by implication more ambitious than historiated, with which the professional artists of the monastic scriptoria or secular ateliers decorated medieval and renaissance manuscripts (and occasionally some special copy of an early printed book). Such pictures would often be fullpage;and since the page would not necessarily be of small size, the term miniature, subject as it is to pseudo-etymological confusion, is not a very happy one.1 But John Evelyn was using it in 1645 and it is no doubt too late to change it. (2) Miniature books: the accepted term for books whose principal (usually only) interest lies in their very small size. Any volume below 2" 1½" would probably qualify." (John Carter)
Source: John Carter, ABC for Book Collectors. 7th edition. With Corrections, Additions and an Introduction by Nicolas Barker. Oak Knoll Press 1995