Thursday, March 27, 2014

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: The Vanier-Chardin Fan, 1690

Folding Fan with a Leather and Paper Leaf, Ivory sticks and guards and mother-of-pearl ornament.
French, 1690
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This folding fan was made in the late Seventeenth Century and depicts a domestic scene in the sort of pastoral setting which was fashionable at the time. Here, amongst a view of shepherds an aristocrats, we see a child who has been fitted with tapes from the shoulders. This was a way of keeping a child steady while he or she learned to walk.

Folding fans such as this one originated in Japan and were introduced to Europe in the second half of the Sixteenth Century. While the construction of such fans was adopted by Europeans, they did away with traditional Asian adornment in favor of the European styles of the time. Carving and painting skills specific to fan production soon developed and an entire industry thrived for centuries as a fan was an essential accessory in the formal dress of a wealthy woman.

A perfect example of the work of the era, this French fan is constructed with a leather leaf which as been painted with gouache. It features sticks of pierced ivory, with mother of pearl washers and a brass rivet. The reverse of the leaf is mounted with paper which has also been painted in gouache

The leaves each have a ground wash of silver, some of which is visible in the sky and on the ground in the scenes. The reverse is painted with roses, peonies and jasmine. The original fan box of imitation and pink silk survives.

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