Thursday, May 9, 2013

Unfolding Pictures: Queen Victoria's Birthday Fan, 1858

Queen Victoria's Thirty-Ninth Birthday Fan
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
All Images Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

This gorgeous fan of cream silk leaves and guards and sticks of carved and pierced mother-of-pearl bears the incised date May 24 / 1858, and features a brass pin, silver loop and a tassel of silk and gold thread

fan was presented by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria on her thirty-ninth birthday, 24 May 1858.

The decoration includes the emblems of the British Isles – the rose, the shamrock and the thistle - with swags of lilies-of-the-valley and ribbons. Victoria’s monogram VR is painted in the center of the leaf, surmounted by a crown. The Queen’s cipher, employing the letters VR and A (for her first name, Alexandrina), with her crown and the date 24 May 1858 has been worked into the design.

The fan’s original box survives. The box is similarly decorated with flowers, Victoria’s monogram and crown and bears the trade label of Mme Rebours of 17 Rue Rousselet, Faubourg Saint-Germain, Paris.

Queen Victoria’s spent her thirty-ninth birthday at Osborne House, with her family. She is said to have long favored the fan and is shown holding it in a photograph taken in 1860.

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