Pin: Portrait of an Eye
Miniatures that focus solely on the eye offer an intimately close view while also concealing the identity of the sitter. Sometimes called “lover’s eye” miniatures, eye portraits enjoyed a period of popularity in England between 1790 and 1820.
The Prince of Wales revived the practice in 1785, sending a portrait of his eye by esteemed miniaturist Richard Cosway to his clandestine lover, Maria Fitzherbert. A twice-widowed Catholic, Fitzherbert was deemed an unfit match for the future King, yet the couple wed in secret.
The marriage was invalid under English law, not having secured the prior approval of King George III and the Privy Council, as required by the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.