Sunday, September 29, 2013

Unfolding Pictures: The National Progress Fan, 1877

The National Progress Fan
Commissioned by Queen Victoria, 1877
The Royal Collection

Commissioned by the Queen after the death of her beloved Prince Albert, “The National Progress Fan” commemorates an event which took place in August of 1850-- Prince Albert’s speech at the laying of the foundation stone of the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. The fan is inscribed with passages from the speech, along with other phrases which expressed the Prince’s many, varied interests and causes, including the “education of women,”

Women’s education was a cause of great importance to the fan’s maker--Marianne, Viscountess Alford who took great care in creating the fan. The Viscountess represented the Prince’s speech through an allegorical image depicting “Art personified” on the left, with a representation of Science on the right. Both figures point towards the central building, described by Lady Alford as a “Temple of Instruction.” The fan also features intricate mother-of-pearl sticks and guards with a pin of silver and pearls. 

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