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Eye Jewels

Eye miniatures were a curious but brief anomaly in miniature painting that came into fashion at the end of the 18th century. They were an extremely intense manifestation of an already emotionally charged art, apparently an attempt to capture ‘the window of the soul’, the supposed reflection of a person’s most intimate thoughts and feelings. Often, as here, the result was a compelling piece of jewellery. Sometimes, however, the result was merely unpleasantly anatomical or disturbingly uncanny.” Retronaut (c.1790-1820)

To me, this looks less like a romantic memento and more a dainty version of the ‘evil-eye’ talisman popular in the Middle East (but found all over the world).

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1-5: from the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum; text from poems by Lord Byron and John Keats.

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6: Antique Turkish charm for sale; text from a poem by Robert Frost.

 

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