The only thing I ever learned to draw particularly well is eyes. Actually, that should read ‘eye’ since I have yet to successfully draw a matched pair. This weird and very narrow talent (if you can call it that) has given me a gratuitously harsh opinion of eye paintings and drawings. I apparently consider myself something of an eye expert. Ridiculous, to be sure, but that’s an issue for another day.
Anyway, that’s why I suspect I’m so attracted to the minute, sometimes-tin-box-enclosed eyes painted by Lucy Pass. Her eyes seem positively classical in technique, and I can imagine how wonderfully startling it would be to come across one when you weren’t expecting it.
It turns out that single-eye paintings weren’t invented by Pass (or by me). In fact, the first one is reputed to have been commissioned by George IV of England, who craved a painting of the sexy widow Maria Fitzherbert on whom he was crushing. Of course, such a token would have scandalized the court in those days, so he cleverly hired a painter to capture just one of her eyes, thereby keeping her identity a secret. That rascally George IV apparently wore the eye just under his lapel and only showed it to favored courtiers. Secret though it was supposed to be, the habit sparked a trend, with lovers’ eyes going viral, as it were, in late 18th century and early 19th century Europe.