Georgian Eye Miniatures
Updated: May 23
Are any of these even real any more?....
eye miniature from the V & A museum London
Georgian Eye Miniatures - how to spot a fake
Our Love Affair With Those Eyes...
This week’s blog post is all about Georgian eye miniatures, and how to spot a fake.
Brooch pictured is from the V & A. I’m not going to post any pics of fakes incase I make myself unpopular!!
Georgian eye miniatures are extremely desirable and as a result prone to fakery.
Georgian eyes became fashionable after George V commissioned one as a token of his love for the Widow Maria Fitzherbert. The period of this trend was from approximately 1790 to the 1820s.
So the first thing you need to look at is the style of the piece of jewellery. Is it from this period? Is the eye from this period?
Fake eyes are commonly cut from other painted miniatures. At least the eye should be Georgian!
This leads to another set of questions. Is the setting edge tampered with? Has it been pried open to add this new painting? Importantly does the painting sit seamlessly to the edge, or is it jagged and cut?
These pieces were commissioned by high society and the pieces were made by the best Jewellers - there would be no shoddy workmanship.
Next, if there is a dedication on the back does it match the eye, does it make sense? Henry ob 79 wouldn’t go with a ladies eye for example.
Importantly does the eye look like it was designed for the ring? Is the composition good? Or is there a bit of cut off nose showing? Has the watercolour been rubbed away to show the ivory , leaving one eye, destroying the remaining watercolour? In fact is it a watercolour?
Check with your loupe for pixels to make sure it isn’t printed! You should see brushstrokes. To confuse things further there were/are some very skilled portrait miniature artists working on repro versions of these too, even since Victorian times.
Price - if it's a bargain, come on, it's not real. If you want to pay £200 for a fake maybe it would be fun and not a deal breaker, but what if you pay £1500 for a fake. At the time of writing I would expect a genuine eye piece to be £6000 - £10,000.
More for a ring
Finally remember that not many of these were ever made and even fewer were rings...