Photographic Miniatures by Bettina von Zwehl
Wirth Gallery FREE
We have commissioned renowned German photographer Bettina von Zwehl to make new work for the Holburne that responds to our collection of historic portrait miniatures. Bettina was particularly struck by an unusual early nineteenth-century miniature on display which shows a group of single eyes all belonging to the members of one family.
Bettina’s new work develops her recent experiments with photographic miniatures and the idea of the eye portrait. Using her husband and daughter Ruby as subjects she has also worked with designer Laura Lee to incorporate eye miniatures into jewellery.
Tiny painted eye miniatures became very fashionable in England during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The single eyes were often set into jewellery so that they could be worn on clothing, often secretly, as a permanent reminder of the absent loved one.
Bettina has also photographed the eyes of a group of children from a London primary school which will be placed within the main galleries of the Museum. The children’s eyes challenge the historic and conventional subjects of portraiture as the sitters are unremarkable and anonymous.
Sponsored by the Arts Council
7.30pm Wednesday 5 June
Portrait Miniatures, Photography and Painting
Bettina von Zwehl and Katy Barron
Ticket £8/£5concs (£2 BSU Students)
Artist Bettina von Zwehl will be in conversation with curator Katy Barron about her current exhibition Ruby’s Room. Bettina will discuss the way that her recent practice has evolved as a result of working with the miniatures collection in the Victoria & Albert Museum and how the exhibition at the Holburne is a further investigation into the little-known world of eye miniatures. The conversation will also touch on contemporary photographic portraiture and its relationship to earlier forms of art.
3pm Friday 28 of June
Intimate Vision: Portrait and Eye Miniatures around 1800
The end of the eighteenth century saw the start of a new craze in Europe: tiny portraits of single eyes that were exchanged by lovers or family members. These minuscule eyes are now largely forgotten, yet the intimate vision that they evoke brings the gaze of loved one deep into the heart of private experience. This talk will recount stories about these very private keepsakes-including the role one played in the scandalous affair of Mrs. Fitzherbert and the Prince of Wales, a portrait of the mesmerizing eye of Lord Byron, and the loss and longing incorporated in crying eye miniatures.
Dr Hanneke Grootenboer is a University Lecturer in History of Art, Fellow of St Peter’s College, University of Oxford
To Book tel 01225 388569
Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm
Sunday and Bank Holidays 11am to 5pm