Miniature Eye Portraits?

Having read yesterday’s post,friend, Bob Nelson, sent me a link-up to the Smithsonian Portrait Collection, and as a result, I learned about the miniature eye portraits that were in vogue in the late 1700s and 1800s, gifts shared between dear friends, lovers or family members.  I find this entire concept endearing and would give anything to own one of these beauties. Just to let you know, I found one on eBay auction and they are hoping for a bid of 3600.00.  A little out of reach!  Be aware that since learning about these gems, there are many replicas being created, but being sold at ridiculous prices.  Buyer, beware!

In the 18th and 19th centuries, well-to-do lovers exchanged ‘eye miniatures’ – love tokens so clandestine that even now it is almost impossible to identify their recipients or the people they depict. They were meant to be worn inside the lapel, near the heart.

I found some very interesting articles about the history and the intention behind such portraits…one, with a beautiful title,

Treasuring the Gaze: Eye Miniature Portraits and the Intimacy of Vision

Not wanting to visit the link?  This is a must-read.

Suddenly popular, this unusual type of portraiture soon appeared in a variety of settings. Rendered in watercolor on ivory, or sometimes in gouache on board, ad vivum eye portraits were mounted in pins or in brooches encrusted with half pearls or brilliants, set in rings or gold bracelet clasps, or framed on the lids of snuffboxes, toothpick cases, dance programs, book covers, and other containers (Fig. 3).6 Lockets adorned with eye portraits, like those holding portrait miniatures, sometimes contained neatly braided or woven hair with ciphers behind crystal or glass. Participating in the same economy of gift giving as sentimental jewelry, these trinkets were exchanged between lovers, friends, and relatives. In addition, as evident from inscriptions on the reverse side of these objects, many eye portraits mounted in jewelry were worn in memory of deceased loved ones. Records show that entire families had their eyes painted, though it remains unclear as to how the portraits were distributed among various family members.

 One rare case, a birthday gift from Queen Luise of Prussia to her husband, shows an ocular family portrait composed of her eye along with four eyes of their children.8 The vogue for these curiosities was relatively short-lived. With the notable exception of Queen Victoria, who developed a fondness for old-fashioned (mourning) jewelry and commissioned several eyes from her court miniaturist Sir William Ross in the 1840s and 1850s, the eye portrait as a stylish accessory disappeared from view even before the 1830s.9 It was definitely passé by 1848,10 if we are to believe Charles Dickens. In his novel Dombey and Son a “fishy old eye” worn by Miss Tox in “the barrenest of lockets” serves as an emblem of the spinster’s plainness and limited independence.11

Eye miniature portraits, I argue, imply a reversal of the object and subject of seeing and should be considered as (prephotographic) instances of “being seen” rather than of seeing. …

I can hardly wait to share these with the artists of East Village.  They are remarkable…makes me want to paint one for someone!

Pinterest has no shortage of featured images…I’m posting two here.

A snap from Pinterest.

A snap from Pinterest.

Another snap from Pinterest: Eye Portraits.

Another snap from Pinterest: Eye Portraits.


The Eyes Are the Windows to the Soul

I enjoyed another wonderful opportunity facilitating with Wendy Lee’s create! program.  When I arrived, somewhat flustered because of a whole series of misadventures, Wendy had the coffee burbling and welcomed me with open arms.  So good to see friends down at the East Village!

Eyes…the windows to our soul?

The origin of this profound thought is attributed to different writers and great thinkers…not precisely as it appears in my title, but in one way or another.  Here are just a few, appearing on the site and shared by the moderator.

The quote originated with Cicero, but in a different form.

The eies. . . are called the windowes of the heart by which love enters into the same.~Stefano Guazzo, Civile Conversation, bk IV (1584)

These lovely lamps, these windowes of the soule~Joshua Sylvester, Devine Weekes and Workes (1591)

The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs records the Latin “vultus est index animi (also occulus animi index, the face (also, eye) is the index of the mind” and “The eyes…are the wyndowes of the mynde.” (1545)

Today, inspired by a North Park University community art project, we painted eyes. Participants of the North Park University made images of fellow North Park students (or in a couple cases, faculty). 67 blocks using various media, mounted on a gold-leafed tondo. It is now installed in the vestibule of the chapel at North Park University.

Eye ArtI decided to begin create’s! portrait series at the Golden Age Club in the East Village with a look at the basic structure of frontal view eyes.

To begin with, one of the participants arrived, sporting an AWESOME fashion statement and gave me permission to photograph him.  AWESOME!  Yellow lenses?  Are you kidding?  More AWESOME!

P1150556While everyone was tentative, we began…analyzing the eye…exploring its complexities and having some fun along the way.  Newsprint sketches began as small detailed miniatures and gradually grew to be confident explorations of the subject.  More fun!  More laughs!  Quiet concentration!

At create! we modify our projects and expectations as need be…some artists are still dabbling in landscapes of our last sessions…some require assistance due to special needs.  We can adjust!  We want everyone to be in full participation to the degree that they are able!

I had a wonderful time and as we offered as our intention at the beginning of class…building…building nests…building community…I am pleased to say that the resulting experience was a warm and loving experience.  We really looked into one anothers’ eyes!


Professor Plum Takes on a New Look!

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Lectio Divina: “Look Into My Eyes”

Taking Pause

The writer’s intentions are not necessarily the only interpretation we can bring to music…sometimes the lyrics mean something else all together.  That’s why music is so interesting…music channels so much for us and is so universal, while at the same time, so very special to our own individual response.

Bryan Adams: Everything I Do

Look into my eyes, you will see
What you mean to me
Search your heart, search your soul
And when you find me there you’ll search no more

Don’t tell me it’s not worth tryin’ for
You can’t tell me it’s not worth dyin’ for
You know it’s true
Everything I do, I do it for you

Look into your heart, you will find
There’s nothin’ there to hide
Take me as I am, take my life
I would give it all, I would sacrifice

Don’t tell me it’s not worth fightin’ for
I can’t help it, there’s nothin’ I want more
You know it’s true
Everything I do, I do it for you
Oh yeah

There’s no love, like your love
And no other, could give more love
There’s nowhere, unless you’re there
All the time, all the way, yeah

Look into your heart, baby

Oh, you can’t tell me it’s not worth tryin’ for
I can’t help it, there’s nothin’ I want more
Yeah, I would fight for you, I’d lie for you
Walk the wire for you, yeah I’d die for you

You know it’s true
Everything I do, oh, I do it for you

Everything I do, darling
And we’ll see it through
Oh we’ll see it through
Oh yeah


Look into your heart
You can’t tell me it ain’t worth dying for
Oh yeah

I’ll be there, yeah
I’ll walk the wire
Oh, yeah

I’m going all the way, all the way, yeah