Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Art of Play: A Doll’s Fan with Blue Birds, 1938

Dolls Fan with Blue Birds
Duvelleroy, France, 1938
Painted by Marie Laurencin
Part of a suite presented to Princesses Elizabeth
and Margaret
The Royal Collection
In 1938, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) took their first official State visit since the coronation in 1937 by visiting France. To commemorate their visit to Paris, a group of French couturiers and fashion designers banded together to create two magnificent dolls for Princesses Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and Margaret Rose. The dolls, called France and Marianne, came with elaborate wardrobes complete with highly-detailed miniature accessories and jewels. Among the collection were four hand fans—two of silk and two of ostrich feathers. This is one of the silk fans.

This fan—as with the other three—still retains its original presentation box which is marked with the name of its maker—Duvelleroy. The fan was hand-painted by Marie Laurencin with a pattern of blue birds.

The princesses didn’t get to play with the dolls right away. They were put on display in St. James Palace and admission was charged to see them. Proceeds went to aid of The Princess Elizabeth of York Hospital for Children and a French charity. Today, France and Marianne are part of the permanent exhibit at Windsor Castle where they overlook Queen Mary’s dolls’ house.

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