Watercolor on ivory set in brooch
Framed: 1.5 cm (9/16 in.); Diameter: 1 cm (3/8 in.)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Starr 1961.327
Eye miniatures were popular in Europe between 1790 and 1830. Only in a few extraordinary cases do we know whose eyes were painted. Their limited scope makes it almost impossible to identify the artist, though we know that many famous miniaturists painted eye portraits including John Smart, Richard Cosway, and George Engleheart. Because the artist and the sitter could be known only to the person who commissioned or received the object, these eyes are distinguished from miniatures and portraits for their private significance and mystery. There are six eye miniatures in the Cleveland Museum of Art's collection. In 2000, three of the CMA's eye miniatures appeared in an exhibition on Alfred Hitchcock and art, highlighting their eerie fascination for modern viewers and their relationship to Surrealism and issues of surveillance.
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