Eye Miniature on an Elliptical Ivory Box
ca. 1800 Unidentified watercolor on ivory image (elliptical): 3/4 x 1 5/16 in. (1.9 x 3.4 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Bequest of Mary Elizabeth Spencer 1999.27.77 Not currently on view
Luce Center Label
Small paintings of eyes first became popular during the late eighteenth century. They reminded wearers of a loved one, whose identity remained a secret. The single eye also symbolized the watchful gaze of a jealous partner, who feared that his or her lover might stray. One of the earliest known eye miniatures was painted in 1786 by the English artist Richard Cosway for the Prince of Wales, later King George IV. The miniature showed the eye of Mrs. Fitzherbert, the prince's mistress. The eye miniatures shown in the Luce Center would have been set in lockets, brooches, rings, or small boxes.
Figure - fragment - eye
painting - miniature
paint - watercolor