Enigmatic Lover's Eye Miniature Portrait Brooch
The most enigmatic and often elusive of jewels is the lover's eye or eye miniature. Even more unusual is the atypical eye portrait of a man's eye rather than that of a woman. Moreover, these portraits were often set into brooches that only women wore and, they were frequently exchanged as tokens of love; it would seem more common to have a representation of a man's eye. However, contrary to some beliefs, these eye miniatures also became tokens of affection between family and friends, and even became memorial pieces. Consequently, women's eyes were often depicted and worn by women.
Here a superb and masterfully painted watercolor on ivory eye is rendered. With irises of blue, the painting is so captivating it takes away your breath with its hyper-realism. With every hair on the brow and his intense gaze certainly makes us wish we could see the entire gentleman. The frame is of 15k gold and surrounded by highly lustrous natural pearls in tones of creamy white to green and gray (Sizes from 1-5 mm). The back is open and covered with glass, and may at one time have contained hair work. The brooch is inscribed, "Walter Hugh Ridpath 21st July 1870 14th May 1875". Certainly engraved many years later as the brooch dates to the Georgian era (circa 1830 as does the miniature and certainly no later). It was not uncommon for cherished objects to be kept in the family and etched later for other events and sentiments.
Measures 1-1/4 inches across (3.1 cm). Condition of the miniature itself is excellent. Glass cover has light edge wear to the far left side visible with a loupe. Many of the smallest pearls have been replaced or restored,wear to a few pearls is evident as is old resin that is visible with a loupe. Back inscription has dark patina and the pin mechanism has been restored some time long ago with tube hinge then later safety preformed in the early part of the 19th century. English in origin circa 1830. (For more information about this form of jewelry, please see our "Reference Section" under "Helpful Terms" and then scroll down to "Antique Lover's Eye Miniatures".