painting on mother-of-pearl calls for exceptionally sharp eyes and
dextrous hands.To complete a single miniature,the painter spends an
average of 40 hours,peering attentively througt the magnifier.
a first visual
appreciation of the colours needed for her task, the painter composes
palette, preparing paint mixes, which will be maintained and modified
She then reshapes
her brushes. Its bristles made from hair of a marten, as none
available on the market are fine enough for this art. She will get
least 10 and as many as 20 such brushes before the painting is finished.
miniature painting needs total concentration and sometimes up to 70
hours of meticulous work under the magnifying glass, the painter’s rule
start with the most difficult details. In a portrait, the eyes and the
features are dealt with before anything else.
The search for the right shade is a constant
challenge; the artist has to
identify the dominant colour of each detail of the subject. The base
each element is painted on uniformly to prevent the mother-of-pearl
The base shade is applied and the other colours
are progressively blended in to
achieve the desired gradation and nuances. Many extremely fine
layers are then applied, yet the completed painting is hardly five
of a millimetre thick.
The miniature has to pass through the kiln several
times to dry each layer of
paint, so that a new layer of colour can be painted on. Repeated drying
minimises the wet paint’s exposure to dust, which can ruin the work.
takes between 30 and 60 minutes to dry — depending on its thickness —
in a 100°
C kiln. Particularly complex subjects need up to 60 passages in the
completed painting is finally baked for five hours to prepare it for
A transparent lacquer is now delicately applied
over the whole dial
Five layers are needed to apply 0.15mm of lacquer. The miniature is
in the kiln for 24 hours, before being smoothed on disks to reach its
thickness. After cleaning, the lacquer is polished to its full
Finally, the miniature can be mounted on fine textures manufactured
with gold and precious stones of coloured transparency that emphasize
and give glow to the painting.