Treasuring the Gaze: Intimate Vision in Late Eighteenth-Century Eye Miniatures

By Hanneke Grootenboer

The finish of the eighteenth century observed the beginning of a brand new craze in Europe: tiny pictures of unmarried eyes that have been exchanged by means of fans or family. Worn as brooches or pendants, those minuscule eyes served an identical emotional want as extra traditional mementoes, corresponding to lockets containing a coil of a enjoyed one’s hair. the style lasted just a couple of a long time, and through the early 1800s eye miniatures had light into oblivion. Unearthing those photographs in Treasuring the Gaze, Hanneke Grootenboer proposes that the fashion for eye miniatures—and their abrupt disappearance—reveals a knot within the unfolding of the historical past of vision.
 
Drawing on Alois Riegl, Jean-Luc Nancy, Marcia Pointon, Melanie Klein, and others, Grootenboer unravels this knot, gaining knowledge of formerly unseen styles of having a look and techniques for exhibiting. She indicates that eye miniatures painting the subject’s gaze instead of his or her eye, making the recipient of the memento an specific beholder who's forever watched. those precious pics regularly go back the appearance they obtain and, as such, they carry a reciprocal mode of viewing that Grootenboer calls intimate imaginative and prescient. Recounting tales approximately eye miniatures—including the function one performed within the scandalous affair of Mrs. Fitzherbert and the Prince of Wales, a portrait of the enchanting eye of Lord Byron, and the loss and longing integrated in crying eye miniatures—Grootenboer exhibits that intimate imaginative and prescient brings the gaze of one other deep into the center of non-public experience.
 
With a number of attention-grabbing imagery from this eccentric and ordinarily forgotten but deeply inner most memento, Treasuring the Gaze offers new insights into the paintings of miniature portray and the style of portraiture.

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