Antique Georgian Lovers Eye Miniature Brooch
A unique and very rare authentic 'lovers eye' brooch. Made of solid 9kt gold, British. Dating back to the early 1800's and set with original seed pearls, this brooch is set with a crystal centerpiece. The crystal holds a miniature painting of an eye and is preserved in a very good state.
The brooch has no fixes or repairs. The crystal has a minor internal !!! surface dent due to its age.
Will make a unique ring for antique jewelry collectors as authentic Lovers Eye jewelry is very hard to find!
Hallmarks: none, tests as 9kt gold;
Dimensions: 3.3 x 2 cm;
Crystal window diameter: 0.7 cm;
Weight: 7.2 grams;
History of 'Lovers Eye' jewelry:
The fashion for eye miniatures began in 1784 with the affair between Prince of Wales, son of King George III, and Maria Fitzherbert, twice widowed and a Catholic she was definitely not a suitable consort for a future king!
The prince commissioned Richard Cosway, painter to the Prince of Wales, to paint a miniature of his eye to send to her in 1785 while she was away in France.
Another, recorded in unpaid commissions from the prince in 1786, was a painting of Mrs Fitzherbert's eye, and later, miniatures of prince's eye and another of his mouth!
In 1795, commissioners were appointed to list the prince's debts (1625 pounds were due to Richard Cosway) - the result of a passion for gambling, collecting and debauchery. To settle them down the prince was asked to marry his cousin, Princess Caline of Brunswick.
As the prince was such a bon viveur and leader of fashion, the eye miniatures became fashionable among his 'set' and a number were created in London and on the Continent between 1780 and 1820.
Frames vary considerably. Cosways miniature was framed in a simple gold locket. Gradually the frames became more sophisticated - diamonds, pearls and precious stones adorned the settings.
The gold frames were frequently decorated with bright cutting -sharp, slash-like decoration made of gold or silver. Some were designed a coiled serpent biting it's tail - the symbol of eternal love and life.
Some examples are backed with plaited hair. They are particularly fascinating because of the hidden messages they send - 'the eye is the window of the soul' or 'I have my eye on you'.
Eye jewelry was not always a symbol of love - they could also be symbols of mourning (memento mori in Latin). By the early 19th century 'lovers eye' jewels had a new name - 'tear jewellery', and a new purpose - as sentiment keepsakes of a dearly departed. Some of these have a tear glistening at the corner of the eye to intimate sorrow and many show the eye peeking through a veil of clouds, perhaps too infer that the loved one might be watching from the high the goings-on of this mortal world.
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