Saturday, February 1, 2014

Unfolding Pictures: A Baton Fan with Blackamoor Finials, 1750

Baton Fan with Blackamoor Finials
French Leaf with German Stick and Guards, 1750
Given to Queen Victoria from Prince Albert, 1840
This an all images:
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Just before their marriage, Prince Albert presented Queen Victoria with four antique fans from the collection of his family. His grandfather, Duke Augustus of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, had amassed a remarkable collection of fans with the help of German dealer, Joseph Meyer. The queen was so pleased with the gift that she made a note in her diary that her beloved had given her “Four beautiful old fans.”

Of the four, one is especially interesting. This unusual fan is called a “baton fan” because, when closed, it takes on a cylindrical shape as opposed to the flatter shape of most fans. The sticks and guards are German in origin. 

Created in 1750, the fan guards end in delicately carved, Moorish-inspred, figural heads—each with carefully pierced ears from which gold earrings hang. The fan leaf was painted in France and depicts a romantic, courting scene which the prince found especially appropriate for the occasion.  The reverse depicts a landscape scene of a folly upon a lake.

On February 9, 1840, upon receiving these gifts, and a few others, Queen Victoria recorded her enthusiasm in her journal.  And, look!  Thanks to the very agreeable people at the Royal Collection, I've a photo of the very page upon which Her Majesty wrote of this fan, over one hundred sixty years ago!  Wonderful!

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