Thursday, May 23, 2013

Unfolding Pictures: Mary of Teck’s Irish Lace Wedding Fan, 1893

Irish Lace Fan
Presented to Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, 1893
Irish lace, blond tortoiseshell, diamonds, pearls, emeralds,
gold, silver, ruby
The Royal Collection
This exquisitely delicate Irish lace fan was presented to Mary of Teck upon her marriage to the future King George V I 1893. The handmade lace with it’s intricate pattern is supported on blond tortoiseshell sticks. The guards—also of blond tortoiseshell—is inset with diamonds in the shape of shamrocks surrounding the monogram “V.M.” (for Victoria Mary—Mary struggled with her name for awhile, choosing to be called Queen Mary to become distinct from her husband’s grandmother, Queen Victoria).

Above the monogram, is an inlaid ducal coronet of gold, diamonds, pearls, emeralds and a ruby. The fan was presented to Mary by Lord Houghton, Viceroy of Ireland. After the potato famine, Irish workers searched for ways to improve the country’s economy. Intense labor was considered unsuitable for a lady, but lace work was deemed acceptable. So, the women of Ireland applied themselves to mastering the art of lace-making. This fan is emblematic of their magnificent work.

The fan’s original box survives and shows that it was made especially for Mary by Duvelleroy in France. 

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