Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Precious Eye of a Lady, 1890

Eye of a Lady
Watercolor on Ivory set in gold and onyx.
The Royal Collection
We’ve seen other examples of the “Eye of a Lady” theme. This was a popular, sentimental gift from a lady to the special man in her life. Such intimate paintings would be set in jeweled frames and worn in a hidden place or displayed privately. The idea that the “eyes are the windows” of the soul was behind this phenomenon—allowing a gentleman to see into the deepest emotions of his lover.

While King George V wasn’t as much of a collector as his wife, Queen Mary (she often had to drag him to museums because he had little interest in art), he did occasionally collect little objects which managed to move him. This was one of them.

This miniature of watercolor on ivory is set in a gold and onyx bracelet with a beaded gold border. It came into the Royal Collection via George V. We’re not sure if this was a gift from his wife or something he purchased on his own. 

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