Saturday, September 21, 2013

Unfolding Pictures: The George III and the Royal Family Fan, 1790

1790--The Poggi Workshop
The Victoria and Albert Museum
King George III was actually quite savvy about Public Relations—before he went mad. This characteristic was not inherited by his son, the Prince of Wales and future King George IV. George III was careful to make sure that the Royal Family was portrayed as happy and cohesive and he ensured this by commissioning works of art which showed his brood engaged in civilized and joyful activities. This fan is part of that effort.

Here, we see a fan with leaves of engraved and hand-colored paper. Ir features carved and pierced ivory sticks and guards. The engraving shows King George III and the Royal Family in attendance at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1788. The scene si framed in a floral decorative border with strips of gilded paper at its edges and the guards are decorated with an urn and flowers. Curiously, the reverse is unadorned.

The leaf is based on a painting by Johann Heinrich Ramberg which was recreated in miniature for the fan. The fan's maker was Antonio Poggi, who worked in London from 1776 to 1799. Poggi is immortalized by the words of the novelist Fanny Burney who described a visit to Poggi’s shop in her diary for March 1781, stating that the fans “are more beautiful than can be imagined. One was bespoke by the Duchess of Devonshire for a present, that was to cost £30.”

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