(3 syl.). Paintings by the Miniatori, a set of monks noted for
painting with minium or red-lead. The first miniatures were the
initial letters of rubrics, and as the head of the Virgin or some other
saint was usually introduced into these illuminated letters, the word
came to express a small likeness. The best
miniature-painters have been Holbein, Nicholas Hilliard, Isaac
Oliver and his son Peter, Samuel Cooper and his brother Alexander, etc.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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