Portrait Miniatures

Restoring Portrait Miniatures

Nearly fifty years ago, Mr. Bill Wiebold began studying portrait miniatures and developing restoration procedures. Mr. Wiebold's love for the miniature lead him to establish precise techniques for properly executing restoration of these small works of art. Wiebold Studio is one of only a handful of firms nationwide that specializes in portrait miniature restoration. Because of its small size, and extensive handling over decades (or centuries!), your portrait miniature might display some of these problems:

  • Exposure to humidity/moisture: warping, cracking, mildew spots

  • Physical damage: damage to the watercolor like scratches,

  • Damaged Frames/Cases: chips, scratches, tears, dents, tarnish

  • Discoloration: dirt, grime, tarnish, color shifting

About Portrait Miniatures

Portrait miniatures are small paintings of a loved one. Most were watercolor on ivory. But some were painted on stretched vellum. Still others were created with oils on copper. Portrait miniatures might have been exchanged by an engaged couple, or worn to remember someone who lived far away, or who had perhaps died. Some even contain a lock of the loved one's hair—either underneath the portrait or displayed on the back intricately woven with seed pearls or golden threads.


Frames and Cases

Like the portraits they contain and protect, frames are unique. They were designed to fit one miniature, and no other. Through the research begun by Bill Wiebold, we have determined the appropriate frame for the period in which the miniature was created. So we are able to reproduce a frame or case if the existing one is missing.


Reproduction Work

Does your frame have issues not addressed in our catalog? View the photos to see examples of custom options that may work for you. These images of presentation frames and boxes, metal mats, wood instead of papier mache and silver backing sheets just brush the surface of the unique issues we can address.



Wondering What You've Got?

See our catalog to discover when your miniature was created.

Please, call us or email us with any questions. We're here to help you get started with restoration of your portrait miniature.


Identify Your Portrait Miniature

The frame or case for a portrait miniature is unique as the miniature itself.

The case provides vital protection for the miniature from the damaging environment. Each frame is custom designed and created to only fit the miniature it is designed for. Through extensive research we have determined the appropriate frame for the period in which the miniature was created. This catalog is an overview of the custom reproduction frames that we offer. It will continue to expand and change to meet the needs of portrait miniature collectors. 



1510 - 1720


From 1510 - 1720 the style of the miniature frame remained fairly consistent. The frame had a curved lens set in an inner stepped bezel. The frame was half round with a half round hanger and curled tapered ornaments. Typically the finish was 24k gold. (i.e. # 1510 - 101) Around 1620 we notice a slight change in the style, the miniatures tend to be larger hence a larger hanger typically doubled, and the finish trends towards sterling silver. (i.e. #1510 - 102) 



1720 - 1775


Circa 1720 American artists began painting miniatures and creating their own style of frame. Often though they would copy the English so using frames from the 1510 - 1720 period would be appropriate. A popular style during this period is a curved lens set in a plain bezel with a plain hanger on the back. The hanger is located one of three positions based on the needs of the wearer. The color is typically rose gold. 





During this period you will see the greatest variety in components. The general construction remains consistent with a bezel for the lens, frame (edge) and hanger. The hanger style varies throughout this period, as did the edges, most often seen are knife-edge, half round or millgraine. The color is typically rose gold. Often during this period the back of the frame is another lens to display either hair or fabric. 




Many miniatures in this period, and later on, were not worn but rater hung on the wall. The papier-mache style frames are available with either a plain or patterned border and one of five finials. This frame will have a flat lens and a spacer or metal mat, to keep the miniature from touching the glass. In this style the borders and finials are typically gold in color.





The miniature frames that were worn during this period were much more ornate than their predecessors. These miniatures were typically framed with a cast floral border. The back may have a lens to display hair or fabric. These frames would typically be gold in color. 




Feel free to call with questions. We'd love to talk to you. You can even email a photo of your item here. Are you local? Come for a visit.

We look forward to talking to you about how we can help.