Art & Design Magazine

In This Case: Lover's Eye

By Americanart

In This Case: Lover's Eye

Eye of a Lady by an unidentified artist

Eyes: they've been called windows to the soul and are often one of the first things we notice when meeting someone new. They can betray our emotions and give us away when we're not being truthful or when we want to hide the truth. In different cultures, an "evil eye" can be the cause of bad luck or injury while the all-seeing eye of God reminds us that our we are always being watched.

In the late 18th century, eyes took on another meaning with what's come to be known as "lover's eye" jewelry. Set in lockets, brooches, rings, and even small boxes, a lover's eye served as a keepsake of someone whose identity was to be kept a secret. These eyes first became popular with the romance between the Prince of Wales (later King George IV) and his mistress, Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert, so the story goes. Mrs. Fitzherbert was twice widowed, a commoner, and six years older than the prince, but none of that stopped the prince's pursuit. He proposed to his mistress with the image of his eye, painted by Richard Cosway, set in a locket, even though such a union would never be allowed by the King. With the presentation of the locket, Mrs. Fitzherbert could keep a memento of her lover without fear of his identity being discovered.

The seven lovers eyes in the Luce Foundation Center are some of our visitors' favorites in the portrait miniature collection and on Sunday, February 10, we're inviting you to come make your own. Local artist Becca Kallem will give a talk on the eye miniatures at 1:30 p.m. then guide participants in making one for their own favorite person.. For all you lovebirds, a little tip from the ladies on the Luce staff: that special someone in your life might appreciate this one-of-a-kind gift or, even better, bring that person along with you to share the experience. For more information, visit our online calendar.

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