Saturday, May 18, 2013

Unfolding Pictures: The Chinoiserie Fan, 1760-70

Fan of Chinoiserie Design
French, 1760-1770
Mother of Pearl Sticks and Guards with a Vellum Leaf Painted in Watercolors
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This Chinoiserie fan is an especially fine specimen of those made in France in the Eighteenth Century. Three vignettes are showcased in this complex design. The scenes depict Chinese fishermen, Chinese children playing on a see-saw, and Chinese children making music.

The images appear to be based on designs by Jean-Baptiste Pillement whose designs were published around 1758. In 1760, the year this fan was made, Robert Sayer incorporated Pillement’s designs into a designer’s source book, “The Ladies Amusement” which was meant to give painters complete scenes to use as a basis for their own works.

The fan leaf is mounted on a type of stick known by the French term “battoir” because their rounded, paddle shapes resemble battledore racquets or carpet beaters.
  The leaf is comprised of vellum painted in watercolors.  The sticks are made of carved and pierced mother-of-pearl which also depicts Chinoiserie scenes.  These are inlaid with gilt and silver foil and adorned with paste stones.

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