The term miniature relates first of all to technique and identification and only secondly to the size of a painting. One can produce a 12-inch painting which is also a miniature.
The size of a miniature is traditionally described as small enough to carry in a person’s hand, pocket or bag. But this implies that sizes can vary enormously. Presumably, as long as the miniature technique is observed, a wall could be painted in miniature, even though the preciousness of the hand-held miniature would be lost.
This technique is a specialized means of producing a perfect balance of color and detail in a series of thinly applied colors, intended to reflect light, within the boundary of a small frame. This does not mean that only traditional watercolor paint can be used. The technique produces the recognizable translucent and delicate look of the multilayered painting, but it can be applied using any of our present-day mediums.
The word miniaturism, sometimes heard in the United States, is not a correct description of the discipline of the miniature. “miniature painting”, or “the art of the miniature”, is the correct description of this enchanting and fascinating branch of fine art.