Earlier last week I posted pics of 18th century fans, circa 1750 to be precise, from France and the Netherlands. After a few days lolling around Sarasota and wondering whether a series of postings to a) show additional pics of their C18-19 fan collection and b) extend my current Water for Elephants/Ringling Circus preoccupation would be appropriate for a site mostly devoted to Georgian England and Revolutionary France tidbits, I’ve decided that a week’s deviation from the usual topic might just be diverting. You agree? Good. If not, I’ll see you next week!
The left fan I must not have thought much of while at the museum because I have no picture of it in my possession. Oops! The middle fan (2) caught my eye right away.
It’s of Napoleon and Marie Louise, the Duchess of Parma and Napoleon’s second wife. The fan is circa 1810, made just prior to her becoming Empress in 1811. I wonder if they were all the rage to carry or more of a promotional campaign on the Empire’s part? My French isn’t exactly amazing; otherwise I would take the pains to translate the inscription on either side of the fans. My guess without translation is that the fan commemorates the uniting of two empires, namely the French and the Austrian-Habsburg. Oh, well look at that little bit of irony! Vive la révolution!
I find this fan visually pretty in a pale, ephemeral sort of way. It’s the color of tea-stained rags with hints of relief in white and dove gray. The scene presented to us is a wine festival with musicians and dancers, families and couples, all enjoying an evening out. Odd color scheme for for what’s being staged, but it is an old fan dating to 1710. It’s also Italian. As with many fine fans, the paper is vellum and the sticks are ivory. This contrasts with the Napoleon and Marie Louise fan whose sticks are wood.
The last fan in the bunch is another French one from 1750. It’s typical of the period, ivory sticks, watercolor on paper leaf, and a tranquil peasant scene.
The Making of Fans from the Ringling Museum
“The main components of a folding fan consist of two end sticks, called guards sticks, that protect the painted leaf within. Typically, the painting was done in watercolor after which the shaped leaf was carefully scored and pleated, allowing the fan to unfold as it was opened. The interior sticks and spine supporting the fans leaf, made of materials as varied as elephant ivory, tortoise shell, mother-of-pearl, exotics woods or bone, are joined at the base of the sticks with a single rivet. The most expensive examples would then have gold or silver leaf applied to the carved decoration. Handmade paper, woven silk, and vellum were all used to fashion the leaf.”
On tap for tomorrow: Pictures of Ca’ d’Zan, the Ringling Family Mansion