Portrait Miniatures

from 27 January to 29 April 2018

A chance to be charmed by the Fondation Custodia’s collection of portraits in miniature, displayed as a group for the first time.


Taken from the medal cabinet of Hôtel Turgot, where they are closely guarded, about 65 portraits provide a fascinating overview of the wealth and diversity of this collection.

Samuel Cooper (London 1607/08-1672 London)
Portrait of Margaret Lemon, c. 1635-1637
Watercolour on vellum. – 120 × 98 mm
Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris,
inv. 395

The collection was started by Frits Lugt (1884-1970) and has been augmented by successive directors of the Fondation Custodia. Today it numbers more than one hundred portraits created between the sixteenth and early nineteenth centuries, before the medium was gradually supplanted by the arrival of photography. Reflecting the history of its development, the English, French, Dutch and Flemish schools predominate in the collection and thus constitute the bulk of the selection. The exhibition is organised chronologically and is intended to reveal to the public the special qualities of these precious miniatures, painted in gouache or oils, on ivory, vellum or copper. Works in enamel also have their place in the collection and are illustrated by the Self-Portrait by Jean Petitot, who perfected the technique of enamelling, producing work of exceptional refinement.

Portraits in miniature are often presented in the form of jewellery, on boxes or are mounted on personal belongings, like the Portrait of an Unknown Man by Nicolas Jacques, which is displayed on a red morocco wallet designed to hold letters. This reveals the intensely intimate, even sentimental character of these representations of a loved-one, given to someone close to perpetuate their memory. The names of the models have often been lost to time, for example the name of the young man whose portrait is attributed to Gonzales Coques. These small, fragile-looking works of art invite silent contemplation, in private. Frits Lugt and his successors were undoubtedly attracted by the artistic qualities of miniature painting which ‘bears witness to so much life and art; the small size of the object is in inverse proportion to the quantity of impressions it engenders’.

The dynastic or documentary considerations usually affecting the constitution of collections of miniature paintings in public institutions have played virtually no role in this case, unless the figure portrayed belongs to the world of art. Samuel Cooper, the English artist, painted the portrait of Margaret Lemon, mistress of Anthony van Dyck; Georg Andreas Wolfgang the Younger portrayed the Italian collector and art historian Francesco Maria Niccolò Gabburri, who owned some of the drawings now in the Fondation Custodia.

The Eye of Pascale-Sophie Kaparis

Pascale-Sophie Kaparis
Face, 2017
Extract, optical image

Ger Luijten, director of the Fondation Custodia, regularly invites contemporary artists to exhibit their work at 121 rue de Lille, Paris. Today he is offering exhibition space to Pascale-Sophie Kaparis.

The artist has been working for several years on the subject of ‘the gaze’. Following the directions of Frits Lugt, she uses a magnifying glass to bring a fresh, creative eye to these small portraits. She was struck, while examining the details, by the care and attention given by painters of the day to the appearance of their models. With her magnifying glass, she has transformed their faces, redefining their features and expressions. The images thus produced, using reflections and mirrors, allow the spectator to immerse him or herself in Pascale-Sophie’s work.

Her installation creates a link with the exhibition Art on Paper. Recent acquisitions by the Fondation Custodia which, a few rooms further on, includes other work by contemporary artists inspired by the collections in the Fondation Custodia.


Selection of works

  • Jean Petitot the Elder (Geneva 1607-1691 Vevey)
    Self-portrait, 1674
    Enamel on gold, 29 × 23 mm
    Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris,
    inv. 1971-PM.3
  • Attributed to Gonzales Coques (Antwerp 1614-1684 Antwerp)
    Portrait of an unknown boy, c. 1650
    Oil on copper, 94 × 72 mm
    Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris,
    inv. 7094
  • Georg Andreas Wolfgang the Younger (Augsburg 1703-1745 Gotha)
    Portrait of Francesco Maria Niccolò Gabburri, 1727
    Watercolour on ivory, 128 × 98 mm
    Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris,
    inv. 2008-PM.1
  • Antoine Berjon (Saint-Pierre de Vaise 1754-1843 Lyon)
    Portrait of an unknown woman
    Watercolour on ivory, 80 mm (diam.) 
    Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris,
    inv. 2015-PM.1
  • 6. Pierre-Louis-Adolphe Labroue (Metz 1791-1863 Metz)
    Portrait of Caspar David Friedrich, 1820
    Watercolour on ivory, 86 × 72 mm
    Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris,
    inv. 2010-PM.1


Portrait Miniatures in the Frits Lugt Collection

Karen Schaffers-Bodenhausen
Paris, Fondation Custodia, 2018
2 volumes (hardback) in a cassette; vol. I Text, 277 pp. / vol. II Plates, 143 pp., 150 colour reproductions, 33 in black & white, 27 × 19,5 cm
ISBN 978 1 912168 10 1
Price: 75,00 €

To order this book, please fill out the form below. You will receive an invoice by e-mail, including package and postage fees. Payments can be made by bank transfer.

The information supplied by you through this form is collected by the Fondation Custodia in order to process your order. In accordance with the law Informatique et Libertés of 6 January 1978, modified, and with the Règlement Général sur la Protection des Données, you have the legal right to access your data, to rectify them, to restrict them, to transfer them or to suppress them. In order to exercise these rights, you can contact the Fondation Custodia, 121 rue de Lille, 75007 Paris, +33 (0)1 47 05 75 19, coll.lugt@fondationcustodia.fr. To find out more about our Privacy Policy.

Practical Information

From 27 January to 29 April 2018


Fondation Custodia / Collection Frits Lugt
121, rue de Lille - 75007 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 47 05 75 19

Access by public transport

Metro: Assemblée Nationale (line 12) or Invalides (lines 8 and 13)
RER C: Invalides or Musée d’Orsay
Bus: lines 63, 73, 83, 84, 94, Assemblée Nationale
Vélib’: station opposite (n° 7009)

Opening hours

Every day except Monday, from 12 to 6 pm

Admission charges

Admission charges 10 € (full) / 7 € (reduced)
The reduced rate is available to seniors (over 60), unemployed people, groups of at least 10 people

Free admission: students, press card, ICOM card, disabled person’s card

The ticket gives access to all three exhibitions