In the late 1700s, a romantic trend swept through wealthy families in England, Europe, and even America. Called “lover's eyes,” or “eye miniatures,” these small paintings were commissioned to depict the eye or eyes of spouses, loved ones, and children. While during the Georgian period (1700s to early 1800s) they were worn as accessories like bracelets and pendants, contemporary artist Susannah Carson is reimagining this art form. She adds delicate paintings of eyes and faces to vintage plates.
Each of these depictions is rendered in a style that evokes the original tradition. Human gazes appear in the center of these dishes, staring at the viewer calmly and directly. The form of the dish even acts as a frame, bordering Carson's handiwork with decorative patterns. This combination of materials enhances the nostalgia of these paintings, making them all the more precious to look at and display.
“I’m interested in painting as not just an optical illusion, but as an illusion of life—of otherness, of richness, of engagement, of that delicate connection we have with other beings which allows us to feel, for a moment, not so alone,” she says. “With compositions highlighting the gaze, these subjects tell us their stories with a single look and ask for us to tell them our stories in return, thereby creating—unlike the alienation of much modern art—a welcoming intimacy.”