This lavishly illustrated volume explores the enchanting and little-known subject of "lover's eye," hand-painted miniatures of single human eyes set in jewelry and given as tokens of affection, or created to memorialize a deceased loved one. According to popular lore, the phenomenon caught on in Great Britain when, in 1785, the Prince of Wales secretly proposed to Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert with a miniature of his own eye. This romantic gesture inspired a fad among the aristocracy for exchanging eye portraits mounted in a wide variety of settings including brooches, rings, lockets and toothpick cases. This book sets the historical scene and examines the role of lover's eyes in the broader context of Georgian and early Victorian portrait miniatures; looks at the language and symbolism of these tokens; and offers five fictional vignettes imagining the circumstances surrounding the creation of these extraordinary objects.
Companion to upcoming exhibition "The Look of Love" at Winterthur, September 2013
96 examples of lover's eyes from the private collection of Dr. and Mrs. David A. Skier of Birmingham, AL "