Georgian eye in clouds

Georgian eye miniature

A watercolour miniature of a female eye with blue iris, set within a sea of dark clouds under crystal and to a gold brooch, circa 1800. The last quarter of the 18th century saw a new fashion in portrait miniatures – tiny paintings of single eyes worn as jewels, exchanged as tokens of affection between friends and lovers. Intensely private objects, eye portraits were keepsakes to be treasured in solitude. They were an extremely intense manifestation of an already emotionally charged art, apparently an attempt to capture ‘the window of the soul’, the supposed reflection of a person’s most intimate thoughts and feelings. Some eye miniatures were expressions of love and some, like this, were expressions of loss.This eye brooch measures 1 and 1/8 inches by 3/4 of an inch and has a hair locket compartment to reverse. Original and immaculate.

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Pierre-Louis Pierson, Scherzo di Follia, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.