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Many of them were painted by acknowledged masters, such as Fra Angelico, Paolo Uccello, and Antoine Watteau, as well as by anonymous folk artists.
Portrait miniatures, or limnings, were originally painted in watercolour with body colour on vellum and card.
They are also collected as financial investment, for social prestige, for the therapeutic escapism their subject may provide, or purely for the aesthetic pleasure they afford.
Panel paintings, by strict definition, are small pictures designed for specific sacred or secular purposes or as part of a functional object.
The painted miniature was eventually superseded by the small, hand-tinted photograph.Their subjects included religious, historical, mythological, and allegorical narratives, medical treatises, psalters, and calendars depicting seasonal occupations.