Auctioneer’s Comment

Bidders Eye up Jewellery

An early 19th century brooch painted with an eye is one of the more unusual lots going under the Charterhouse hammer in their two day 15th & 16th November auction.

“It is such a delicate little painting and whilst I have no idea who the eye relates to I would be very pleased to own it.” Commented Richard Bromell. “Brooches are often overlooked at auction and whilst there is nothing of value in the brooch such as diamonds, it is nonetheless a totally captivating little piece of jewellery and art.”

Eye miniatures are believed to have originated when the Prince of Wales (later George IV) felt the need to send Maria Fitzherbert, a widow, as a token of his love. This gesture and the romance that went with it was frowned upon by the court, so a miniaturist was employed to paint only the eye and thereby preserve anonymity and decorum. The couple went through a form of marriage on 15 December 1785, though all present knew the marriage was invalid by the Royal Marriage Act since George III had not approved. Reportedly Maria’s eye miniature was worn by George IV, hidden under his lapel. This is regarded as the event which led to lovers’ eyes becoming fashionable, appearing between 1790 and the 1820s in the courts and affluent families of England, Russia, France and more rarely, America.

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