The Look of Love at the Georgia Museum of Art

Gold oval pendant surrounded by seed pearls, ca. 1830. Brown right eye with clouds.
dimentiuons 1 7/8 (with hanger) x 1 3/8 x 1/4 in.

The Look of Love: Eye Miniatures from the Skier Collection opens on October 7, 2012 at the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia, Athens.  It continues until January 6, 2013, in the Dorothy Alexander Roush and Martha Thompson Dinos Galleries.

Georgia Museum of Art

This blog has covered the exhibition at its first showing in Birmingham, AL, several times:  Here by Victoria, and Here  and Here by Guest Blogger Jo Manning.  This is the first ever exhibition devoted to these unique miniature representations of lover's eyes, and we hope that a number of our readers can attend this new venue.

Bracelet surmounted with miniature in gold surround with drop pearl; Gray right eye.
1 5/8 x 2 x 1/4 in. (surround only)

In the words of the Georgia Museum, "Exquisite in craftsmanship, unique in detail, and few in number, lover’s eye miniatures are small-scale portraits of individual eyes set into various forms of jewelry from late-18th- and early-19th-century England. Part of a trend that began with Britain’s Prince of Wales (later George IV), clandestine lovers exchanged these customized tokens depicting one another’s eyes, as such a feature might only be recognized by persons of the most intimate familiarity."

Yellow gold brooch with border of thirty-two natural oriental half-pearls in a floral motif
with eight small turquoise stones
1 x 1 1/2 x 1/4 in.

In the exhibition catalogue, Jo Manning has provided five fictional vignettes of possible stories behind Eyes of Love.  As the Georgia Museum says,  "...behind the skilled artistry with which each of these tiny portraits was painted lie the enchanting stories of secret romance and love lost."  Essays by several experts are also included.

The catalogue is available from the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Georgia Museum of Art and on  Also available is an iPad app created by the Birmingham Museum of Art.
About one hundred examples of Eye Miniatures are shown.  Many were worn as pins or on rings, necklaces and bracelets.  Others are found on patch and toothpick boxes, stickpins and fobs.  Many are memorials to lost children or lovers.

Gold teardrop-shaped brooch surrounded by split pearls, ca 1790. Blue right eye.
3/4 x 1 1/4 x 1/4 in.

 Whatever their elusive meaning and purpose, you will be fascinated to see this stunning collection.

The Georgia Museum of Art website can be found here.