More than tiny portraits of individuals, miniature portraits were treasured items that highlighted the love and affection felt between people. Some of these works of art were worn as jewelry or carried as a memento of those who were far away or had passed. Miniatures that were too large to wear were housed in compact cases that would sit on a bedside table or travel with their owners.
Many miniatures were exchanged among married couples. The elaborate frame on Mr. Gibbes’ portrait suggests that it was designed for Mrs. Gibbes to wear as a piece of jewelry. The portrait of Mrs. Gibbes is housed in a much simpler case, worn perhaps by her husband. Mrs. Gibbes is wearing a miniature in her portrait, illustrating one way they could have been worn. They could be pinned at the neck as a brooch, worn as a necklace or locket, or even around their arm as a bracelet.