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What were eye miniatures? - Deborah Nash

Regulars | By Deborah Nash

Georgian eye miniature at the V&A

Pictures of a single eye were a short-lived category of miniature painting that existed in Europe between 1785 and 1830. By Deborah Nash

Both male and female eyes were depicted, smaller than life-size and often in bejewelled settings, worn as rings, brooches or bracelets, or decorating the lids of snuff boxes and toothpick cases. If contained in a locket, it might be accompanied by a curl of hair. The gemstones adorning the frames stand in sharp contrast to the simplicity of the portrait and carry meanings of innocence, purity, constancy, felicity and protection against misfortune. ...


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