So, check this out! When I was researching my last post about the Prince of Wales marrying the twice-widowed (and very Catholic) Maria Fitzherbert, I came across a little something about a token called an eye miniature. I found it quite fascinating and vowed to go back and look into it a bit more. Here’s what I discovered…
The eye miniature was a life-size portrait of a person’s eye (yes, that’s right, just the eye) painted inside a locket or other piece of jewelry. They were given as a sign of affection or remembrance. The Prince of Wales, George IV, was said to have given Mrs. F his eye miniature and she returned the favor. It was considered a clandestine token between lovers. Since only an eye was visible, in theory, no one else would know whose eye it was, but the owner of the eye would and could surreptitiously glance at the thing throughout the day. I suspect there was a great deal of sighing that went with it.
Once the Prince started the trend, all the rich folk jumped on board and wanted an eye miniature of their beloved.
In an age where people were falling in love with other people who they couldn’t really be with due to money, religion, family obligations, etc. the eye miniature (or lover’s eye) was one form of rebellion. Not that Mrs. F’s Catholicism or widowed state stopped the Prince from marrying her, but that’s another post.
I dug up one other interesting bit of info on the eye miniature as well. Apparently, an optometrist in the UK has a collection of over 100 of these things and they were on display in the summer of 2012.
I try to imagine my husband and I gazing fondly at each other’s painted eyes during the day but I can’t exactly render the image. I think I prefer my background image of the two of us together that pops up every time I turn on my iPhone. What? Not romantic?
So, what do you think? Eye miniatures: creepy or romantic?