Monday, October 4, 2010

Unfolding Pictures: La Balançoire Fan, 1857

The Royal Collection
Designed and painted by Jules Louis Hamon—the great French designer—this romantic hand fan was given as a gift to Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII, by a Lord Calthorpe. An intriguing piece, the fan’s sticks are inlaid with mother of pearl and set with gold-bezeled rubies. Above the stones, small painted porcelain plaques have been mounted. The fan leaves depict an allegorical scene of love and marriage. Each concept is personified in god-like form—seated on a see-saw. Groups of women surround the two figures—appearing more at ease with the ideas as they grow older.

The fan was constructed by famed fan-maker Felix Alexandre of Paris. Hamon designed the scenes which were painted onto the leaves by Paul Hervy and Hippolyte Omer Ballue, celebrated landscape painters of the day.

Already an antique by the time it was presented to Queen Alexandra, this fan was not used, but rather, neatly preserved in The Royal Collection as a great work of art. It can be viewed amongst the other fans in the collection at the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace.

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