Eye Miniature on an Elliptical Ivory Box

  • Unidentified, Eye Miniature on an Elliptical Ivory Box, ca. 1800, watercolor on ivory, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Mary Elizabeth Spencer, 1999.27.77

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.

Eye Miniature on an Elliptical Ivory Box
ca. 1800
Not on view
image (elliptical): 341 516 in. (1.93.4 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Bequest of Mary Elizabeth Spencer

Mediums Description
watercolor on ivory
  • Figure – fragment – eye
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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