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  • M. Smeyers
  •  and Graham Reynolds


Term applied both to paintings in manuscripts (see§I below) and to the related form of independent, small paintings, particularly portraits, that developed in the 16th century (see§II below). It derives from the Latin minium, the red lead employed to emphasize initial letters in a text, and thus originally referred to rubrication; since the 16th century, however, the term has been applied more widely to encompass the small-scale painted illustrations in manuscripts, the result of a mistaken etymology, which associated the word with ‘minute’. In the medieval period a manuscript miniature was referred to as ...

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