Eyes and spectacles

On Friday 8th April our member Lynne Hickins gave a well prepared talk about how to draw portraits of people wearing glasses. As she used our microphone and camera everyone could follow with ease. We were astonished to learn that the history of glasses goes back a lot further than we had assumed.

It was first recorded in 1280 that crystal workers in Venice were creating lenses for focusing eyes. The first portrait we have of someone wearing eyeglasses was painted some 70 years later in 1352. This shows Cardinal Hugo de St Cher, and was painted in a fresco in Treviso, Italy, by Tomasso da Modena. Demand for spectacles grew after the invention of the printing press in 1452, but it was not until the 1700s that spectacles that were held in place by arms that fitted over the ears – that look essentially like modern spectacles – were invented. Before then, they had to be held in place with the hand, or perched on the nose!