The History of the Holburne Collection
The Collection: Miniatures
Sir William Holburne's impressive collection of over 120 portrait miniatures was displayed in four cases – one tortoiseshell, one gilt, one black and one ebony - on the first floor Landing of Cavendish Crescent. All four cases were lent by Sir William to the Special Exhibition of Portrait Miniatures held at the South Kensington Museum in 1865 (L110).
The collection consists of mostly British eighteenth- and nineteenth-century pieces. The highlight of the collection is, however, a series of late seventeenth-century portraits executed in plumbago by Thomas Foster (?c.1665-c.1720).
Sir William was collecting miniatures before the art of miniature painting had been seriously studies and when attributions to artists and identifications were frequently incorrect. Consequently many of Holburne's original attributions and identifications have subsequently been discarded.