- gold, glass, carnelian, onyx, chalcedony ivory, hair
Comprising: a Maltese cross pendant set to the centre with a square miniature depicting the right eye of a lady, with brown iris painted on ivory, within a cannetille frame and carved carnelian to the cardinal points, glazed hair locket to the reverse; together with a Maltese cross pendant set to the centre with a square miniature depicting the right eye of a gentleman, with brown iris painted on ivory, with carved onyx and chalcedony to the cardinal points, glazed hair locket to the reverse.
From the collection of late 18th early 19th century eye miniatures, the principle part sold by Sotheby's London December 17th 2008, lots 306-331, in loving memoery of my ever watchful father the late William Anthony Mucci - American Consul 1961-1974.
The popularity and appeal of eye miniatures, is based upon their intrinsically mysterious and enigmatic character. In the late eighteenth century, when eye miniatures were at their most fashionable, such a jewel was considered as a deeply intimate gift. The image could only truly be understood and appreciated by those who had given the jewel and those who had received it, as the identity of the sitter remained anonymous to all others. Capturing the gaze of the sitter, eye miniatures recreated that intimate space between the eye of the subject and the wearer. They were more than a simple reminder of absent lovers and family. They sought to capture the soul of the sitter, so that the wearer was reminded of more than just their face and features, but of their personality and passions.
Cf: The Victoria & Albert Museum, portrait miniatures room 90a, for examples of early 19th Century English portrait miniatures of eyes.
Cf: V. Becker, Antique and 20th Century Jewellery, NAG Press Ltd, 1980, page 95 for images of eye miniatures.
Cf: Shirley Bury, Jewellery 1789-1910, The International Era, Antiques Collectors Club, 1991, for information on eye miniatures.