Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Unfolding Pictures: The Recovery of George III from Illness Fan, 1789

Recovery of George III from Illness Fan
English, 1789
A Gift of Queen Mary to...
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Here’s another fan which Queen Mary (Consort of King George V) managed to wrestle out of the hands of one of her friends and return to the Royal Collection. However, for some reason, Mary didn’t keep the fan. Shortly before her death she donated it, along with a few other objects from her personal collection, to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

This fan shows the trend of Eighteenth Century fan-makers to create objects which commemorated important events such as births, marriages and deaths of well-known people, royal occasions or major social events. Here, we see a celebration of George III’s recovery from illness in 1789. Its design is simple and straightforward and well suited to the seriousness of the event.

The elegant, emblematic design includes the rose and thistle which symbolizes the Union of Scotland and England by Act of Parliament in 1707. Above these emblems are the words, “Health is restored to ONE and happiness to Millions.” That seems a little extreme, since George III wasn’t the most beloved monarch of all time, but he certainly was better liked by the average citizen than his offspring: King George IV and William IV.

Chances are, the fan was designed for a lady to carry at the great ball given at the Court in 1789 to celebrate the king’s recovery. His recovery was rather short-lived. As we say in the Southern U.S., until he died, George III, well, “he just ain’t right.” 

No comments: