Cabinet Painting


A cabinet painting is a small painting, typically no larger than two feet in either dimension, but often much smaller. The term is especially used for paintings that show full-length figures or landscapes at a small scale, rather than a head or other object painted nearly life-size. Such paintings are done very precisely, with a great degree of "finish". From the fifteenth century onward, wealthy collectors of art would keep these paintings in a cabinet, which was a relatively small and private room to which only those with whom they were on especially intimate terms would be admitted. A cabinet, also known as a closet, study, office, or by other names, might be used as an office or just a sitting room. Heating the main rooms in large palaces or mansions in the winter was difficult, so small rooms such as cabinets were more comfortable. They offered more privacy from servants or other household members and visitors. Typically, a cabinet would be for the use of a single individual; a large house might have at least two and often more.

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