Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Unfolding Pictures: The Surrender of the Jacobite Leaders Fan, 1746

Hand Fan
English, 1746
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This delicate fan has been saddled with the clunky name, “Surrender of the Jacobite leaders to the Duke of Cumberland after the Battle of Culloden.” Made in 1746 in Great Britain, the fan features a hand-colored paper leaf on wooden sticks. It was part of the collection of Queen Mary, Consort of King George V, who generously donated the fan to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The fan was created to celebrate the English victory at Culloden in 1746 when the English forces were fighting the Jacobite troops. The troops were mainly Scottish and supported the exiled royal house of Stuart. Here, we see the Duke of Cumberland, leader of the English forces, surrounded by Scottish lords kneeling in surrender. In the background, the English troops have opened fire on the fleeing rebels. The Jacobites were slaughtered in vast numbers, while the king’s troops suffered few casualties. After this battle, the Duke of Cumberland put down the rebellion earned him the nickname ‘The Butcher’.

Fans depicting historical scenes were popular in the Eighteenth Century. Few, however, depicted such grisly scenes. It’s quite possible that this fan was made solely for purposes of display as opposed to use by a lady.

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