Thursday, November 7, 2013

Unfolding Pictures: An Italian Piqué Fan, 18th C.

Italian Hand Fan
Naples, 18th C.
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Folding fans, like the one pictured above, were highly costly luxury items which became popular throughout Europe in the mid-18th-century. In Paris at the time, there were almost two hundred master fan makers working at any given moment. However, equally impressive examples were created in Italy and Britain during the Eighteenth Century. Let’s take a look at this one which heralds from Naples, Italy.

The leaf of this example is supported by tortoiseshell sticks which are inlaid with tiny gold pins and strips (an artistic technique which is called piqué). Piqué was originally a specialty of Italian workshops who produced such stunning examples for export throughout Europe.One side of this fan’s lead is painted with a fishing woman adorned in elaborate Rococo dress. The reverse depicts the goddess Diana who is accompanied by three maidens.

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