Project Gutenberg's History of the Fan, by George Woolliscroft Rhead

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Title: History of the Fan

Author: George Woolliscroft Rhead

Release Date: June 29, 2014 [EBook #46136]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Chris Curnow, Turgut Dincer and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)

Rinaldo in the garden of Armida, Louis XV. skin mount, stick mother of pearl, guards jewelled, given by King William IV to Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge & left by her to her grand-daughter Victoria Mary. H.R.H. the Princess of Wales.


This edition is limited to 450 copies
for sale in Europe and the British
Dominions, of which this is No. 93.





Edinburgh: T. and A. Constable, Printers to His Majesty



THE majority of the blocks in this work were made direct from the actual Fans by Messrs. John Swain and Sons, to whom the Publishers are indebted for the skill and ingenuity with which they have overcome the many special difficulties incidental not only to the subjects themselves, but to the conditions under which many of those in private houses had to be reproduced.

The Colour Plates are printed by Messrs. Edmund Evans.

The block of the Fan Mount by Rosa Bonheur was made by Mr. F. Jenkins in Paris.

The block of the Japanese Fan Mount, The Tamagawa River, is by the Grout Engraving Company.

The lithograph of Bacchus and Ariadne is by Messrs. Martin, Hood and Larkin.

Pg ix


IT is, perhaps, a little singular that up to the present no work making any pretension to completeness has appeared in English dealing with that little instrument so intimately associated with both civil and religious life of the past, the Fan. Even on the Continent the literature of the Fan is exceedingly scanty. M. Blondel’s work, Histoire des Éventails, published in 1875, is but sparsely illustrated, and is mainly based upon the researches of M. Natalis Rondot, whose Rapport sur les objets de Parure was undertaken at the instance of the French Government in 1854. An English translation of M. Octave Uzanne’s brilliant sketch appeared in 1884, and is unillustrated except by fanciful border designs; while Lady Charlotte Schreiber’s stately tomes and Mrs. Salwey’s Fans of Japan deal only with more or less isolated portions of the subject. These, together with Der Fächer, by Georg Buss, appearing in 1904, one or two illustrated catalogues and a few desultory magazine articles, form the sum-total of the Fan’s literature. This paucity of book material, and the general absence of information amongst individuals, is at once an advantage and a disadvantage. I have in dealing with this subject such benefits as the breaking of new ground gives; I have at the same time to contend with the difficulty of collecting information from sources so scattered, and in many instances so obscure.

To the works above mentioned, which indeed have been most helpful, it is only justice to add the admirable article on ‘Les Disques crucifères, le Flabellum, et l’Umbella,’ in La Revue de l’Art Chrétien, by M. Charles de Linas; the sparkling and entertaining ‘History on Fans’ by Henri Bouchot in Art and Letters for 1883; an excellent article on Chinese Fans by H. A. Giles in Fraser’s Magazine for May 1879; articles in[Pg x] various publications by MM. Paul Mantz and Charles Blanc; all these I have freely used, and gladly acknowledge my indebtedness.

But, since it is scarcely possible, in a subject covering such an extended area, to avoid inaccuracies of some sort, I must endeavour to forestall any possible criticism by saying that no pains have been spared to render the book as free from errors as may be. As to the line illustrations, they must be considered merely diagrammatic, and not in any sense realistic representations of the various objects.

I welcome this opportunity of making what is an unusually long list of acknowledgments of help received. Firstly, to my Publishers for their enterprise, the admirable manner in which the book is produced, and for their uniform courtesy. Secondly, to the many owners of fans, these including the most exalted personages, who have so generously responded to my invitation to lend their fragile treasures.

My thanks are also due to the officials of the various Museums, those of the Print Room of the British, and the National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museums; to Sir C. Purdon Clarke, C.I.E., F.S.A., and his son, Mr. Stanley Clarke of the India Museum; Dr. Peter Jessen of the Kunstgewerbe Museum, Berlin; Professor Pazaurek, Stuttgart; Dr. Hans W. Singer; to Sir George Birdwood, K.C.I.E., C.S.I., who has kindly read the three chapters on ancient fans; to Professor W. M. Flinders Petrie, D.C.L.; Mr. W. Holman Hunt, O.M., R.W.S.; Sir L. Alma-Tadema, O.M., R.A.; the Rev. J. Foster, D.C.L.; the Clerk of the Worshipful Company of Fanmakers; the Librarian at Welbeck; Mr. Wilson Crewdson; Mr. W. Harding Smith; Mr. W. L. Behrens; Mr. R. Phené Spiers; Mr. G. F. Clausen; Mr. J. Ettlinger; Mons. J. Duvelleroy; Mr. H. Granville Fell; Mr. Frank Brangwyn, A.R.A.; Mr. Talbot Hughes; Mr. Frank Falkner, for help in various ways; and last, though by no means least, to Mrs. E. P. Medley, for most valuable assistance in translation.

London, 1909.G. Woolliscroft Rhead.

Pg xi













(From a Japanese Painting. British Museum.)

Pg xiii


1.RINALDO IN THE GARDEN OF ARMIDA. Louis XV. H.R.H. The Princess Of WalesFrontispiece

A CONCERT. Dutch. H.R.H. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll




SEA NYMPHS. Italian. Mr. W. Burdett-Coutts, M.P.


THE RAPE OF HELEN. ‘Vernis Martin.’ Lady Lindsay


CHINESE FAN. Filigree and Enamel. Mr. M. Tomkinson


CHINESE FAN. Red Lacquer. Miss Moss


HOTEI AND THE CHILDREN. By Kanō-Shō-Yei, 1591. Mr. Wilson Crewdson.


THE TAMAGAWA RIVER. By Kanō San Raku. Mr. Wilson Crewdson


CUT VELLUM FAN. Mr. L. C. R. Messel


FAN MOUNT. Bacchus and Ariadne. Mrs. Bruce-Johnston

Between pages
122 and 123

PIAZZA OF ST. MARK. Mr. W. Burdett-Coutts, M.P.




PASTORELLE. Spanish. H.S.H. Princess Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg


BULL FIGHTS. Spanish. Lady Northcliffe


PASTORELLE. Louis XV. Wyatt Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum


MOMENS MUSICALS. ‘Vernis Martin.’ Mr. Leopold de Rothschild, C.V.O.


THE RAPE OF HELEN. ‘Vernis Martin.’ Lady Northcliffe


DIDO AND ÆNEAS. Mrs. Bischoffsheim. Facing reverse of same Fan

Between pages
162 and 163

‘CABRIOLET’ FAN. Lady Northcliffe

21.Pg xiv

DIRECTOIRE AND EMPIRE FANS. Miss Ethel Travers Birdwood, and Mr. L. C. R. Messel, facing ‘Sans Gêne’ and Empire Fans

  Between pages
170 and 171

TELEMACHUS AND CALYPSO. The Dowager Marchioness of Bristol


WEDDING FAN. Directoire. Mr. L. C. R. Messel


WEDDING FAN. H.R.H. Princess Henry of Battenberg


LE CERF DE ST. HUBERT. By Rosa Bonheur. M. Georges Cain


THE RED FAN. Conversations Galantes. By Charles Conder. Mr. John Lane


THE BLUE FAN. By Frank Brangwyn, A.R.A.




LE BAL D’AMOURS. H.R.H. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll
















CHINESE FAN. Filigree and Enamel. Victoria and Albert Museum


HAND-SCREEN, Front and Reverse. Mr. Wilson Crewdson


LACQUERED FAN. Lady Northcliffe








NETSUKI (DAI TENGU). Mr. W. L. Behrens




DAGGER-FAN. Mr. W. L. Behrens


SUYE HIRO OGI (Wide End) Open and Closed. Mr. W. Harding Smith


AKOMÉ OGI (COURT-FAN). Mr. Wilson Crewdson


WAR FAN (GUN SEN). Mr. W. Harding Smith

Pg xv44.

FOUR WAR FANS (GUMBAI UCHIWA). Mr. L. C. R. Messel, Mr. W. Harding Smith, Mr. W. L. Behrens


WAR FANS (GUN SEN). Mr. L. C. R. Messel and Mr. W. Harding Smith


MODERN JAPANESE FANS. Ivory with Gilt Lacquer and Painted Fan signed ‘Kunihisa.’ Mr. M. Tomkinson


THREE CHŪKEI. Mr. L. C. R. Messel






THE TOURNAMENT. By A. Moreau. Victoria and Albert Museum


FLABELLUM OF TOURNUS. Museo Nazionale, Florence

Facing each other
between pages
90 and 91



IVORY FAN AND FLABELLA HANDLES. British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum




COPTIC FLAG-FANS. Königl. Museum, Berlin




DÉCOUPÉ FAN. Musée de Cluny


FAN OF MICA. Mr. L. C. R. Messel


VENUS AND ADONIS. By Leonardo Germo. Wyatt Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum


AN EMBARCATION. Mrs. Hamilton Smythe


CUPID’S HIVE. The Dowager Marchioness of Bristol








A SACRIFICE. Mrs. Bruce-Johnston. Facing the Colour Plate of Bacchus and Ariadne

Between pages
122 and 123







SPANGLED FAN. Spanish. Mr. Talbot Hughes



Pg xvi67.

LA DANSE, AND PASTORELLE. Duchess of Portland


PASTORELLE, AFTER LANCRET. H.R.H. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll


ACTÆON FAN. Musée de Cluny


CEPHALUS AND AURORA. Mrs. Bischoffsheim


VERNIS MARTIN. Mrs. F. R. Palmer


A PASTORELLE, WITH TWO PORTRAIT MEDALLIONS. Wyatt Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum


of Bristol


BATTOIR FAN. The Dowager Marchioness of Bristol


FÊTE CHAMPÊTRE. ‘Vernis Martin.’ Wyatt Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum


BELSHAZZAR’S FEAST. Metropolitan Museum, New York


BUILDING OF THE PLACE LOUIS XV. The Dowager Marchioness of Bristol


DIDO AND ÆNEAS. Reverse. Mrs. Bischoffsheim. Facing the Colour Plate of same Fan

Between pages
162 and 163

‘CABRIOLET’ FAN. The Dowager Marchioness of Bristol

Facing each other
between pages
164 and 165

‘CABRIOLET’ FAN. The Dowager Marchioness


WEDDING FAN. The Countess of Bradford

Facing each other
between pages
166 and 167





SANS GÊNE AND EMPIRE FANS. Mr. L. C. R. Messel. Facing Colour Plate of Directoire and Sans Gêne Fans

Between pages
170 and 171

‘LORGNETTE’ FANS. Mr. L. C. R. Messel




A LONDON FAN SHOP. Mr. L. C. R. Messel


THE SURRENDER OF MALTA. Mrs. Hungerford Pollen


FÊTES ON THE OCCASION OF THE MARRIAGE OF THE DAUPHIN. Wyatt Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum


ENGLISH FAN. THE VISIT. Collection of Baroness Meyer de Rothschild


ENGLISH FAN WITH MEDALLIONS AFTER COSWAY. Wyatt Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum


IVORY EMPIRE FAN. Lady Northcliffe



Pg xvii90.

WEDDING FAN. Mrs. Hawkins


ST. PETER’S, ROME. By J. Goupy. Dr. Law Adam


EARLY DUTCH FAN. The Dowager Marchioness of Bristol



Facing each other
between pages
192 and 193

AN EMBARCATION. Dutch. M. J. Duvelleroy




AN OFFERING TO CERES. H.R.H. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll


DUTCH FAN (DÉCOUPÉ). Mrs. Davies-Gilbert




MEDALLION FAN. German. Given by H.R.H. The Duke of Coburg to H.R.H. The Princess Victoria, H.R.H. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll


GERMAN FAN. Given by H.R.H. The Prince Consort to Queen Victoria


GERMAN FA Landesgewerbe Museum, Stuttgart


TWO GERMAN FANS. Kunstgewerbe Museum, Berlin


ENGRAVED HAND-SCREEN. A. Carracci. Schreiber Collection, British Museum


ENGRAVED HAND-SCREEN.C. F. Hörman.Schreiber Collection, British




GROTESQUE FAN, STYLE OF CALLOT. Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris


THE FOUR AGES. Abraham Bosse


TITLE-PAGE. Nicholas Loire. Schreiber Collection, British Museum


LA COQUETTE. Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris


TAKING OF THE BASTILLE. Schreiber Collection, British Museum




ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE-TRADE. Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris


‘CABRIOLET’ FAN. Schreiber Collection, British Museum




PROJECTED INVASION OF ENGLAND, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris


MARRIAGE OF NAPOLEON. Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris


ADVENTURE IN RUSSIA. Schreiber Collection, British Museum


A NEW GAME OF PIQUET. Schreiber Collection, British Museum


THE MOTION. Schreiber Collection, British Museum


THE NEW NASSAU FAN. Schreiber Collection, British Museum

Pg xviii112.

THE HARLOT’S PROGRESS. Mr. C. Fairfax Murray




MR. THOMAS OSBORNE’S DUCK-HUNTING. Schreiber Collection, British Museum




THE PARADES OF BATH. Mr. W. Burdett-Coutts, M.P.


A TRIP TO GRETNA. Schreiber Collection, British Museum


‘BARTOLOZZI’ FAN. Mrs. Frank W. Gibson (Eugénie Joachim)






PAINTED IVORY BRISÉ FAN. Mr. Leopold de Rothschild, C.V.O.


PORTUGUESE FAN. Mr. J. H. Etherington-Smith


LACE MOUNT. Youghal Co-operative Lace Society


AN ENTOMOLOGIST. Countess Granville


COCKS AND HENS. Claudius Popelin. Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris


AUTOGRAPH FAN. Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, O.M., R.A.


AUTOGRAPH FA Japanese. Mr. Frank Brangwyn, A.R.A.




FEATHER-FAN. H.R.H. The Princess of Wales


THE MEET. By Charles Detaille. M. J, Duvelleroy


LACE FAN. By Alexandre. Victoria and Albert Museum

To face each other
between pages
292 and 294

LACE FAN. M. J. Duvelleroy


DESIGN FOR FAN. By Frank Brangwyn, A.R.A.


A GARLAND OF CHILDREN. By G. Woolliscroft Rhead




Feather-fan, Nimroud


Peacock-feather Fan




Initial—Boy with Fan




Initial—Vulture with Emblem of Protection


Fire-fan, Colombia


Portuguese ‘Abano’


Plaited Hand-fan, Egyptian


Hand-fan, Egyptian

Pg xix

Hand-fan, Egyptian


Fly-whisk, Egyptian


Ceremonial Fans—from Rosellini


Ceremonial Fns


Investiture of the Office of Fan-bearer


Umbrella or Canopy of Chariot of Rameses III.


Initial—Assyrian Fly-whisk


Assyrian and Persian Fly-whisks


Covers of Fly-whisks


Tail-piece—from an Assyrian relief


Initial—Greek Girl with Fan


Greek Fans


Greek Girl with Fan


Tail-piece—Girl with Fan


Initial—from printed Cotton Hanging, India


Cingalese Sēsata


Fly-whisk—from an illumination


Fly-whisk- from a painting on talc, Madras


Emblem of Royalty


Royal Standards




Plaited-Grass Fan




Talapat Fan and Pankhás


Burmese Fan of Gold


Portion of Embroidered Muslin (Chamba, Nineteenth Century)


Fly-whisk used by Jains


Circular Fan, ‘Like the Moon’


Fan of Hsi Wang Mu (Japanese Painting, British Museum)


Fan of Ming Dynasty (Painting, British Museum)


White Plumed Fan of Hsi Wang Mu


Two Pear-shaped Screens




Feather-fan, Japanese Painting


Hand-screen,Japanese Pnting


Fly-whisk, Upper Nile


Plaited Fans, South Pacific Islands


Plaited Fans, Hawaiian


Various Fans, Samoa


Various FansBritish Guiana


Various FansEcuador and Peru


Various FansSouth-Eastern Pacific


Flag-fan, West Africa


Fly-whisk, Andaman Islands






Fly-whiskEast African


Angel with Flabellum


Processional Flabellum


Coptic Flabellum


Flabellum, from Greek Psalter


Flabellumfrom Goar




Flag-fan, from Vatican (a glass vase)


Banner-fan, from ivory diptich


Ghost-fan, Malay Archipelago


Fan of Ferrara, or Duck’s-foot


Fragments of Fan from Château de Pierre


Small Rigid Fans, 1590


Feather-fan, Milan


Diagram of parts of Folding-fan


Rigid Screen of Bologna, 1590


Fan of Rice-straw, Fifteenth Century


Dimensions of Fans, 1550-1780


Japanese Lady’s Court-fan


Long-handled Feather-fan


Ostrich-feather Folding-fan, Amsterdam


Flag-fan, Titian


Ivory Fan, Madras, Nineteenth Century


Plaited Fan


Hide-fan, from Benin


Queen Kapiolani’s Fan


From a Chinese Screen, Victoria and Albert Museum


Pg xx

Pg xxi

Pg xxii

A Concert. Dutch, 1720-30, given by the Duke of Cobury to Princess Victoria (afterwards Queen) in 1836, from the collection of Fans at Gotha. H.R.H. Princess Louise,
Duchess of Argyll.

Pg 1



N the beginning, before the human advent, when the earth was peopled only by the Immortals, a bright son was born to Aurora, whose soft and agreeable breath was as honey in the mouth of the gods, and the beating of whose gossamer wings imparted a delicious coolness to the air, moderating the heat of summer, and providing the first suggestion of, and occasion for, the dainty little plaything we have under consideration, somewhat waggishly described as a kind of wind instrument, not, perhaps, so much to be played upon as to be played with, and invaluable as assisting to follow out the wisest of the Sage’s maxims when he bids us keep cool.

This delicate toy, this airy creation of gauze, ivory, and paint, frail and fragile almost as the flowers kissed by Aurora’s son, endowed apparently with the gift of perpetual youth, may claim a lineage older than the Pyramids; having its origin and being in the infancy of the world, before the birth of history, in that golden age when life was a perpetual summer, and care was not, when all was concord and harmony, and old age, long protracted, was dissolved in a serene slumber, and wafted to the mansions of the gods, the regions of eternal love and enjoyment.

It was in these halcyon days that the human family sat in its palm groves, which afforded not only refreshing shade, during the hours when the sun is at its height, but also provided the precursor of thisPg 2 ‘Servant of Zephyrus’—serving further to temper those beams which are the source of all life, and light, and music, for are not all the learned agreed with the late Mr. George Augustus Sala, that if a thorn was the first needle, doubtless a palm leaf was the first fan?

‘Beneath this shade the weary peasant lies,
Plucks the broad leaf, and bids the breezes rise.’1

The poets, however, who lay claim rather to inspiration than to the dry bones of mere learning, supply us with many fanciful suggestions as to the fan’s origin—a Spanish story (duly told on a printed fan) has it that the first fan was a wing which Cupid tore from the back of Zephyrus for the purpose of fanning Psyche as she lay a-sleeping on her bed of roses.

A quaint, though somewhat inconsequent, conceit is that of the French eighteenth-century poet, Augustin de Piis, quoted by M. Uzanne in his work on the fan, in which Cupid, at an inopportune moment, surprises the Graces, who were as much embarrassed as the god was delighted—to hide their confusion, with the hand that was unemployed, they endeavoured to cover up both eyes by spreading the fingers.

‘And soon Dan Cupid was aware
That though they veiled their eyes, between
The fingers of that Trio fair
Himself was very clearly seen;
On which his little curly head
Deeply to meditate began,
Till from their fair hands thus outspread
He took his first hint for the Fan.’

Le Bal d’Amours, by A. Soldé, reverse, a group of cupids. stick mother of pearl. From Queen Victoria’s collection. H.R.H. Princess Louise,
Duchess of Argyll.

Whether we accept this explanation or not, and whatever circumstances attended the origin of the fan, it is abundantly clear that Cupid had a hand in it. Has not Gay told how the master Cupid traced out the lines, conceived the shape, converted his arrows into sticks, and from their Pg 3barbed points, softened by love’s flame, forged the pin? Is not the fan one of the chief weapons in the armoury of the Love-God? Is it not the rampart from behind which the fiercest fire of love’s artillery is directed? Nay, is it not in very truth the sceptre of the Love-God? Did not the Greeks early recognise this fact by placing the plumed fan in the hands of Eros himself? The fan is at once the creation of Amor and the chief ensign of his sovereignty!

And its uses?

Madame la Baronne de Chapt, in the first volume of her Œuvres Philosophiques, discovers a hundred such:—‘It is so charming, so convenient, so suited to give countenance to a young girl, and to extricate her from embarrassment, that it cannot be too much exalted; we see it straying over cheeks, bosoms, hands, with an elegance which everywhere provokes admiration.

‘Love uses a fan as an infant does a toy—makes it assume all sorts of shapes; breaks it even, lets it fall a thousand times to the ground....

‘Is it a matter of indifference, this fallen fan? Such a fall is the result of reflection, of careful calculation, intended as a test of the ardour and celerity of aspiring suitors.—And the successful suitor, the favoured swain? Is it not he who discovers the greatest celerity in returning the fan to its charming owner, and, in doing so, imprints a secret but chaste kiss upon the fair hand that takes it, and is rewarded by a look ten thousand times more eloquent than speech?’

And if, peradventure, by the spell of some magician, this little instrument could itself be endowed with speech! Aha! ma chère madame, what tales could it not unfold from the recesses of its fluted leaves, what whispers! what confidences! what assignations! what intrigues!

‘Pour une Espagnole,’ writes Charles Blanc, ‘toutes les intrigues de l’amour, tous les manœuvres de la galanterie, sont cachées dans les plis de son éventail. Les audaces furtifs du regard, les aventures de la parole, lesPg 4 aveux risqués, les demi-mots proférés du bout des lèvres, tout cela est dissimulé par l’éventail, qui a l’air d’interdire ce qu’il permet de faire, et d’intercepter ce qu’il envoie.’

Disraeli (Contarini Fleming), in similar strain, with no less eloquence, says: ‘A Spanish lady with her fan might shame the tactics of a troop of horse. Now she unfolds it with the slow pomp and conscious elegance of the bird of Juno; now she flutters it with all the languor of a listless beauty, now with all the liveliness of a vivacious one. Now in the midst of a very tornado she closes it with a whirr, which makes you start. Magical instrument! in this land it speaks a particular language, and gallantry requires no other mode to express its most subtle conceits, or its most unreasonable demands, than this delicate machine.’

‘Women,’ says the witty Spectator, ‘are armed with Fans as men with Swords—and sometimes do more execution with them.... There is an infinite variety of motions to be made use of in the flutter of a Fan. There is the angry Flutter, the modest Flutter, the timorous Flutter, the confused Flutter, the merry Flutter, and the amorous Flutter. Not to be tedious, there is scarce any emotion in the mind which does not produce a suitable agitation in the Fan; insomuch that if I only see the Fan of a disciplined Lady I know very well whether she laughs, frowns, or blushes. I have seen a Fan so very angry, that it would have been dangerous for the absent lover who provoked it to have come within the wind of it: and at other times so very languishing, that I have been glad for the Lady’s sake the lover was at a sufficient distance from it. I need not add that a Fan is either a Prude or Coquette according to the nature of the person who bears it.’

Mr. George Meredith, too, would appear to have studied its motions: ‘Lady Denewdney’s fan took to beating time meditatively. Two or three times she kept it elevated, and in vain: the flow of their interchanging speech was uninterrupted. At last my father bowed to her from a distance.Pg 5 She signalled: his eyelids pleaded short sight, awakening to the apprehension of a pleasant fact; the fan tapped, and he halted his march, leaning scarce perceptibly in her direction. The fan showed distress.2

In one of the sprightliest of Steele’s letters to the Tatler, the beauteous Delamira, upon the eve of her marriage, resigns her fan, having no further occasion for it. She is entreated by the matchless Virgulta, who had begun to despair of ever entering the matrimonial state, to confide to her the secret of her success. ‘That swimming air of your body,’ says she; ‘that jaunty bearing of your Head over your shoulder; and that inexpressible Beauty in your manner of playing your Fan, must be lower’d into a more confined Behaviour; to show, That you would rather shun than receive Addresses for the future. Therefore, dear Delamira, give me these excellencies you leave off, and acquaint me with your Manner of Charming.’...

Delamira explained that all she had above the rest of her Sex and contemporary Beauties was wholly owing to a Fan (left to her by her Mother, and had been long in the Family), which, whoever had in Possession, and used with Skill, should command the hearts of all her Beholders; ‘and since,’ said she, smiling, ‘I have no more to do with extending my Conquests or Triumphs, I’ll make you a present of this inestimable Rarity.’ ‘You see, Madam,’ continued she, upon Virgulta’s inquiry as to the Management of that utensil, ‘Cupid is the principal Figure painted on it; and the skill in playing this Fan is, in your several Motions of it to let him appear as little as possible: for honourable Lovers fly all Endeavours to ensnare ’em; and your Cupid must hide his Bow and Arrow, or he’ll never be sure of his Game. You may observe that in all publick Assemblies, the sexes seem to separate themselves, and draw up to attack each other with Eye-shot; That is the time when the Fan, which is all the Armour of Woman, is of most use in her Defence; for our

Pg 6

minds are constructed by the waving of that little Instrument, and our thoughts appear in Composure or Agitation according to the Motion of it. You may observe when Will Peregrine comes into the side Box, Miss Gatty flutters her Fan as a Fly does its Wings round a Candle; while her elder Sister, who is as much in Love with him as she is, is as grave as a Vestal at his Entrance, and the consequence is accordingly. He watches half the Play for a Glance from her Sister, while Gatty is overlooked and neglected. I wish you heartily as much Success in the Management of it as I have had;.... Take it, good Girl, and use it without Mercy; for the Reign of Beauty never lasted full Three Years, but it ended in Marriage, or Condemnation to Virginity.’3

If the fan is efficacious as a weapon of offence in Love’s sieges, it is no less effective as a shield against Love’s darts. On a painted Spanish fan in the Schreiber Collection in the British Museum are represented three fair nymphs in a wooded landscape, one of whom is receiving on her fan an arrow discharged by the Love-God, who is accompanied by my lady Venus in her car. On a scroll is the inscription, ‘l’utilité des éventails,’ ‘la utilidad de los abanicos.’

This use of the fan as shield, is adopted also by the shinláung, or monastic novitiate of Burma, who employs his large palm-fan, both as a shelter from the fierceness of the sun’s rays, and as a screen from the sight of womankind, moving, in the latter instance, his fan from right to left as occasion requires, i.e. whenever a woman happens to pass.

Epoch Louis XV.
Fan Mount—Unfolded.
Hommages offered at the Altar of Madame de Pompadour
by Church and State,—Literature, Art, Music, Etc.

Hommages Offered to Madame de Pompadour. Mrs Bruce Johnston.

A story, the source of which is not given,4 is told of Goldoni, who, being one evening the guest of a Venetian lady, was complimented by her upon the productions of his genius.

‘Why, my lady,’ he replied, ‘anything provides a subject for a comedy.’

Pg 7

‘Anything?’ replied the lady.

‘Anything,’ emphatically replied the dramatist.

‘Even this fan?’ insisted the Beauty.

‘I shall be indebted to you for life,’ exclaimed Goldoni, struck with a happy thought. ‘You have suggested to me my best comedy; in a week you will read it.’5

Many and manifold are the uses of the fan. What device, for example, could better display the beauty of a rounded arm, or the ivory whiteness of tapered fingers? Such an instrument provides graceful and often much-needed employment to those same delicate fingers; it supplies that necessary sense of completeness to the tout ensemble of the picture. And the comedy actress, desiring some trifle to emphasise a movement, to give point and expression to some particular action—what more effective instrument than a fan, the use of which, on the stage, has almost been elevated into a fine art!

‘Pray, ladies, copy Abington;
Observe the breeding in her air:
There’s nothing of the actress there!
Assume her fashion if you can
And catch the graces of her fan.’

This at once recalls the saying of Northcote, who, although reluctantly compelled to admit Queen Charlotte’s excessive plainness, an elegant and not a vulgar plainness—she had a beautifully shaped arm, and was fond of exhibiting it—exclaimed, ‘She had a fan in her hand. Lord! how she held that fan!’6

Madame D’Arblay, in one of her most delightful letters, records a conversation between herself and Mr. Fairly (Col. Stephen Digby), who, upon the occasion of a visit to her, ‘finding she entered into nothing,’ Pg 8took up a fan which lay on the table and began playing off various imitative airs with it, exclaiming, ‘How thoroughly useless a toy!’

‘“No,” I said, “on the contrary, taken as an ornament, it was the most useful of any belonging to full dress; occupying the hands, giving the eyes something to look at, and taking away stiffness and formality from the figure and deportment.”

‘“Men have no fans,” cried he, “and how do they do?”

‘“Worse,” quoth I plumply.


‘“But the real use of the fan,” cried he, “if there is any, is it not—to hide a particular blush that ought not to appear?”

‘“Oh no, it would rather make it the sooner noticed.”

‘“Not at all; it may be done under pretence of absence—rubbing the cheek, or nose—putting it up accidentally to the eye—in a thousand ways.”’

The uses of the Fan? They are legion!—They record for us public events, military, political, civil; they tell us our fortunes; instruct us in Botany, in Heraldry, in tricks with cards; they propound conundrums; take us to the theatre, to bull-fights, to church, to the first balloon ascent; and to Mr. Thomas Osborne’s Duck-hunting!

In Shakespeare’s day no lady thought of stirring abroad without this accompaniment, the care of the toy devolving upon the gentleman usher—

‘Peter, take my fan and go before.’
Romeo and Juliet.

From the Aubrey MS., 1678, we learn that ‘the gentlemen (temp. Henry VIII.) had prodigious fans, as is to be seen in old pictures,7 like that instrument which is used to drive feathers, and in it a handle at least half a yard long; with these the daughters were oftentimes Pg 9corrected (Sir Edward Coke, Lord Chief-Justice, rode the circuit with such a fan; Sir William Dugdale told me he was an eye-witness of it;8 the Earl of Manchester also used such a fan); but fathers and mothers slasht their daughters in the time of their besom discipline when they were perfect women.’9

La Danse, after Lancret. Dr Law Adam

Hotspur’s exclamation, I Henry IV., II. iii., further serves to show that this instrument could, upon occasion, be used as an offensive weapon:

‘Zounds! an I were now by this rascal, I could brain him with his lady’s fan.’

The strength hidden in such an apparently harmless toy is thus recognised equally by both sterner and gentler sex: the hint contained in the quaint and charming conceit addressed to the fan of his mistress by Louis de Boissey, author of Le Babillard, will not be lost upon lovers:

‘Deviens le protecteur de ma vive tendresse,
Bel éventail! je te remets mes droits;
Et si quelque rival avait la hardiesse
D’approcher de trop près du sein de ma maîtresse,
Bel éventail: donne-lui sur les doigts!’


Pg 10




The word fan, or van, is derived from the Latin vannus, the Roman instrument for winnowing grain. This winnowing-fan, held sacred by all the peoples of the ancient world, together with the fire-fan (bellows), also a sacred instrument, and used by the priestesses of Isis to fan the flame of their altars—these must be accounted amongst the earliest of the ancient and prolific fan-family. To the first named are several references in Holy Writ. Isaiah, xxx. 24, speaks of the oxen and young asses that shall eat clean provender which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan. Jeremiah, xv. 6-7, lamenting the backsliding of Jerusalem, exclaims, ‘I am weary with repenting; and I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land’; and again in li. 2, ‘Send unto Babylon fanners that shall fan her, and shall empty her land.’

In Matt. iii. 12, and Luke iii. 17, John the Baptist, announcing the coming of ‘one mightier than I’—‘He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner.’

Both these instruments appear on a bas-relief from a tomb at Sakkarah, of the twelfth Pharaonic dynasty, circa B.C. 2366-2266, sixteenPg 11 hundred years before Isaiah wrote. In this some shepherds are roasting trussed and spitted ducks over fires which are being kept alive by the plaited, wedge-shaped hand-fan; the winnowing-fan appearing in the same picture.

Servius, in commenting on Virgil’s mystical fan of Bacchus, (‘mystica vannus Iacchi,’ Georg. i. 166) affirms that the sacred rites of Bacchus pertained to the purification of souls; in Assyria, also, it was introduced in the ceremonies connected with the worship of Bacchus and became a sacred emblem.10 This instrument, carried at the Dionysia or festivals in honour of Bacchus, was called Lichnon (Λίχνον), and was so essential to the solemnities of this god, that they could not be duly celebrated without it. So also Osiris, when judge of Amenti, holds in his crossed hands the crook and flagellum, the mystical vannus—‘whose fan is in his hand,’11 each of these instances having reference to the generative principle, and the improvement of the world by tillage.

The passage in Jeremiah xiii. 24, ‘Therefore will I scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness,’ suggested the proud motto of the Kentish family of Septvans (Setvans):

‘Dissipabo inimicos Regis mei ut paleam.’
‘The enemies of my king will I disperse like chaff.’12

On the brass of Sir Robert de Septvans, 1306, Chartham, Kent, the knight’s shield and aillettes upon the shoulders are charged with the winnowing-fans from which he takes his name, and small fans are embroidered upon his surcoat. In the Lansdowne MSS. 855 B.M., the arms are thus given: ‘Sir robt de sevens dazur e iij vans dor.’

Pg 12

The Greeks named ῥιπίς the large flat instrument which was used to fan the fire: the diminutive ῥιπίδιον was applied to objects of similar form in ordinary use amongst both sexes for the purpose of fanning as well as to drive away the flies. Indeed the use of the fan as bellows appears to have been practically universal, and to have dated from a very early period of the world’s history.

The employment of these instruments, as well as the forms which they assumed, is continued even to the present day:13 in the Republic of Colombia, where fans are employed as much by men as by women, the kitchen of every hut and house throughout the country is provided with a fan in lieu of bellows, rectangular in form, albeit broader at the outside than at the short handle, and about 12 inches by 9 inches in size: These are formed of the young inside leaf of the cabbage-palm, the handle and back being the rib of the leaf, the fan portion being the fronds of the leaf plaited.

The Portuguese fire-fans (Abano) made in the south of Portugal, and in universal use in that country, are round in shape, coarsely plaited in straw or rush, and fixed in a rough wooden handle.

These, representing the two simplest elemental forms, are the primeval fans which have come down to us from the remotest periods of history, have endured through the centuries, and, like the fans in use in India at present, identical as a matter of fact with these in form, are as modern as they are ancient.

Pg 13

These two fans, the winnowing-fan and the fire-fan, minister to the two most pressing of man’s necessities—to the first of his physical necessities, his daily bread, and to his chief mental necessity, the attainment of the bread of life; the fire-fan keeping alive the flame sacred to the great goddess who is the mother of all things, mistress of the elements, giver of the golden grain, which, when ripened, is separated from the chaff by the winnowing-fan; the one instrument, therefore, being the complement and counterpart of the other.

The Egyptian plaited hand-fan, used for fanning the fire, as well as for other domestic purposes, was made in a precisely similar way to the Portuguese ‘Abano’ above referred to, except that instead of being a complete circle, it assumed the form of a rather full crescent. In the painted decoration of a tomb at Eileithyia, representing the interior of a storeroom, a workman is cooling, by means of one of these hand-fans, the liquid which is contained in a number of vases or amphoræ.

In a great funeral procession of a royal scribe at Thebes, servants carry, among other offerings, similar crescent-shaped matted fans, together with, in three instances, the more ornamental semicircular feather hand-fan used by ladies for the purpose of fanning themselves, and also, with a somewhat longer handle, waved by servitors in attendance upon great personages of both sexes.

On an Egyptian tablet or stele of the twelfth dynasty, in the British Museum, the lady Khu is seated with her husbands, receiving offerings from their children; a hand-fan of semicircular form rests against the seat; this evidently not of feathers, but rigid, since the construction isPg 14 suggested in the representation, and obviously used by the lady herself rather than by attendants.

The handles of these fans were of ivory, of wood painted, or of sandalwood, which latter, when warmed by the fingers, exhaled a delicious perfume.

A few fan-handles exist in the various public museums; two occur in the British Museum, together with a portion of a handle inscribed with the name of Nebseni, inspector of the goldsmiths of Amen, eighteenth dynasty, illustrated opposite.

A primitive fly-whisk, of the type seen on the Assyrian monuments, appears in the Louvre, under Egypt, but undated and undescribed; it is formed of grassy reeds of a buff ochre colour, bent backwards at the handle, and rudely tied with the same substance, the length being about 2 feet 6 inches.

The standard, banner, and processional fans are usually formed of the feathers of the larger birds, fixed in a long wooden handle, the feathers, as well as the handle, being painted or dyed in brilliant colours. These, as will be seen by a reference to the examples from Rosellini, are designed with the consummate sense of proportion distinguishing all Egyptian work. In both the examples given, the tips of the feathers are surmounted by a tuft of small fluffy feathers, this being a device common to many countries, and is seen in the North American Indian fan illustrated, page 82.

Two Fan Handles.
Portion of a Fan Handle, inscribed with the name of Nebseni.
Egyptian, 18th Dynasty.
British Museum.

Many of these standard and processional fans, doubtless, were formed of some material stretched upon a semicircular frame, the fan decorated in various ways. They were in attendance on the king wherever he went; they were also used as standards in war, the king’s chariot being Pg 15always accompanied by at least two. The fact that they were dedicated to the service of the gods is evidenced by a stele in the museum at Boulak, on which is represented Osiris enthroned with a flabellifer behind, waving the long-handled fan. The radiate fans, writes Professor Flinders Petrie, were used as sunshades, appearing in hieroglyphs as the determination of Khaib, i.e. shadow.

(From Rosellini.)

In the temple of Rameses XII., B.C. 1135, a tablet represents the departure of the Khonsu from Thebes to the land of Bakhatana. A standard fan of ostrich feathers of the Indian murchal type is fixed in the bow of the boat bearing the god in his ark, and a semicircular standard fan in the stern; both being inclined so as to meet above, and overshadow the ark.14 In the temple of Derri in Nubia, the sacred barque of the god Phré is solemnly borne by twelve priests, the king accompanying in military costume; a flabellifer waves the long-handled fan.

Pg 16

Numerous representations of these long-handled, semicircular, standard fans occur on the monuments. At Thebes (Rhamessium) is CEREMONIAL FANS
(From Rosellini.)
figured a reception of the military chiefs and foreign envoys by Rameses III. Two servitors behind the king carry these fans, and two fan-bearers wave the ostrich-feather emblem.

At Medinet Abu, the same king is seated in his chariot with three servitors waving the long-handled, semicircular fans.

The tall, single ostrich plume was probably in the first instance a fly-whisk. It was the principal ensign of the office of fan-bearer, which was one of great distinction, and one of the highest in the gift of the monarch, none but royal princes or scions of the first nobility being permitted to hold it. The ceremony of investiture took place in the presence of the king seated upon his throne, and was usually performed after a victory, and granted for some distinguished service in the field. Two priests invest the holder with the robe, chain, and other insignia of his office, the fortunate recipient of the honour raising aloft the flabellum and crook, thus expressing his fidelity to his king and master. This was the usual formula of investiture of high office; its resemblance to the biblical account of Joseph’s advancement will at once be apparent.

‘And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck.’

Upon the field of battle the fan-bearers either attended the monarch on foot or took command of a division with the rank of general. DuringPg 17 the heat of battle, whether mounted in cars or engaged on foot, they either carried the emblem of their office in their hand, or slung it behind them. Their privileges were many, amongst them being the right of presenting prisoners to the king after a victory. The office was divided into two grades—those who served upon the right and left of the king respectively, the most honourable post being always conferred upon INVESTITURE OF THE OFFICE OF FAN-BEARER
(From Wilkinson.)
those of the highest rank, or for the most distinguished services. A certain number were always on duty, and were required to carry the monarch in the palanquin or chair of state, and to attend during the grand solemnities of the temple and upon all occasions of high state ceremonial.

The monuments bear eloquent testimony to the importance and significance of this object. At Thebes (palace of Medinet Abu), Rameses Méiamoun appears in a magnificent palanquin, surrounded by no less than twenty bearers of the fan emblem, amongst whom are the sons of the king.

In the same palace the ten sons of Rameses appear in the order of their precedence, bearing the emblem; the hieroglyphics, by their side, indicating their name and functions.

On an occasion when the king (Rameses IV.) receives the homage of the chiefs of the army, two servitors with the long semicircular fans, and two bearers of the fan emblem, are in attendance.

Pg 18

The highest significance of the fan emblem is when it is grasped by the talons of the sacred vulture, guardian and protectress of the monarchs. This figure occurs repeatedly on the monuments; at Medinet Abu, Rameses-Méiamoun is seen subduing an army of Asiatics, the vulture waving the fan emblem over the head of the king.

In the temple of Beit Oually in Nubia, Rameses II., helmeted, is striding over a fallen barbarian; the vulture of protection hovers around the head of the hero. On the same monument Rameses seizes by the hair a barbarian with broken bow, the vulture again in attendance. Upon the completion of the victory, four fan-bearers, each with crook and flabellum, offer the spoils of conquest to the king.

On a bas-relief at Thebes, Seti I. is seen in his war-chariot subduing the barbarians, also accompanied by the vulture.

At Philæ, Ptolemy Philometor appears with a group of vanquished Asiatics, the vulture once more in attendance.

In the papyrus of Hunefer (Book of the Dead) a winged Utchat, with Eye of Horus, waves the fan emblem over the head of Osiris.

In the papyrus of Anhai, over the Standard of the West, which crowns the Solar Mount and supports the hawk Rā-Harmachis, two winged Hori appear as the protecting principle.

This symbol of the vulture forms a motif for surface decoration on the ceiling of the hypostyle hall of the Rhamessium. Above the great bell capital, the vulture, grasping in each talon a fan emblem, is treated as a repeated ornamental pattern; it also appears as decoration of the umbrella or canopy of the chariot of Rameses III. (Sesostris).

We are thus enabled to realise the great part played by the fan alike in the military, civil, and religious life of Egypt. As an instrument in the hands of private persons, or even of slaves in attendance on individuals, it is less in evidence on the monuments, although we may naturally assume that in a climate such as Egypt this instrument wouldPg 19 be in constant requisition. We strain the eye of imagination to the very earliest period of the history of this mystic land, and see in fancy the Queen of Menes the Thinite, surrounded by slaves only a little less fair than herself, waving the fan of square form actually appearing on a cylinder in the Louvre; we see, also in fancy, the famed and beautiful Queen Nitôcris, the handsomest woman of her time, builder of the third Pyramid, reclining upon her couch, the air being rendered less oppressive by the waving of the soft feather fan with which the monuments have made us familiar. Lastly, have we not Shakespeare’s glowing picture of the fanning of the voluptuous ‘serpent of old Nile,’ Cleopatra?

‘For her owne person,
It begger’d all description: she did lye
In her Pavillion, Cloth of Gold, of tissue,
O’er-picturing that Venus, where we see
The fancie out-worke nature; on each side her
Stood pretty-Dimpled boyes, like smiling Cupids,
With divers-colour’d fannes whose winde did seem
To glowe the delicate cheekes which they did coole,
And what they undid, did.’


Pg 20



The employment of the fan in the religious ceremonies of Assyria has already been hinted at. There can be no possibility of doubt that the ceremonies and customs, both sacred and secular, connected with the fan, were common to all the countries of the East, these being the offspring of similar conditions and necessities. Thus we have in Assyrian sculpture frequent representations of the fly-whisk. On a bas-relief from Nimroud King Sennacherib is standing in his chariot superintending the moving of a colossal figure at the building of his palace at Kouyunjik, two attendants behind the chariot bearing an umbrella and fly-whisk; on another relief we see Assur-bani-pal standing, bow and arrow in hand, pouring out a libation over four dead lions before an altar, his umbrella-bearer and fly-flapper being in attendance. We are also introduced to the garden or palm-grove of Assur-bani-pal’s palace, wherein the king is being entertained by his queen at a banquet; the queen holding in her left hand what is evidently a small fan and of the shape and general appearance of the pleated fan, but probably rigid.

The royal fan-bearers were two in number, invariably eunuchs, their usual place being behind the monarch. The long-tasselled scarf appears to be the badge of the office, which was one of great dignity. Its holder was privileged to leave his station behind the throne and hand his master the sacred cup, the royal scent-bottle, or handkerchief, which latter articlePg 21 invariably appears in the left hand. The usage of this office seems to have been very similar to that of Egypt; in the absence of the vizier, or in ASSYRIA      PERSIA subordination to him, he introduced captives to the king, reading out their names from a scroll or tablet in his left hand.15

The matter of the ‘handkerchief’ opens up an important question. Sir George Birdwood, in a masterly address before the Society of Arts on the subject of ancient fans, says: ‘On a “marble” in the British Museum, from Kouyunjik (near Mossul, i.e. Nineveh), representing Sennacherib, B.C. 681-705, enthroned before Lachish, two attendants stand behind the throne, each waving in his right hand, over the monarch’s head, a murchal (fly-whisk) of undoubted peacocks’ feathers, and each bearing in his left hand what I identify as the cover of the murchal. It is absurd to take it to be a pocket-handkerchief.’

On the other hand, Mr. S. W. Bushell, in his Handbook of Chinese Art, refers to the fan- and towel-bearers in the Chinese sculptures of the Han dynasty; these, although somewhat differing in shape from those of the Assyrian reliefs, evidently served a similar purpose.

It is an extremely difficult point to determine; in the reliefs of Assur-bani-pal at Susiana, of Sennacherib at Kouyunjik, and others, two flabelliferæ walk behind the king’s chariot bearing in their right hands the fly-whisks, their left hands not Pg 22being seen. Standing in the umbrella-covered chariot, immediately behind the king and charioteer, a figure bears a smaller handkerchief or cover in his right hand, but no evidence of a fly-whisk. The left hand in this instance also does not appear in the relief. In a representation of Assur-bani-pal in the Louvre (Layard, Monuments, Series II. Plate 51), the king holds in his right hand a small fan; an attendant behind holds the cover or handkerchief in his right hand, but no fly-whisk. These objects are in most instances fringed, and in some cases embroidered with a narrow border.

Assyrian fly-whisks were usually of feathers, set in a short handle of ivory, wood, or other material, carved or otherwise ornamented. There were two kinds, a smaller one which was a kind of brush, made of horse-hair or vegetable fibre, and a larger one of feathers; the short brush fan belongs to the earlier period, the long feathered form to the later.16

The two forms, however, appear at the same time. In the bas-relief of the banquet above referred to, attendants bear dishes of fruits and meats, each being provided with the small fly-whisk, evidently for the purpose of driving away insects from the royal dishes.

The ceremonies and usages connected with the fly-whisk open up a vast field of inquiry, far too involved to be adequately dealt with here; some few aspects may, however, be touched upon.

Baal-zebub, Beel-zebub, Beel-zebut, Bel-zebub, the Philistine god of Ekron, whom the Jews represented as Prince of Devils, was literally Lord Fly, or Lord of the Flies. When Ahaziah was sick he sent to consult the Lord Fly’s oracle.17

The word Baal simply means owner, master, or lord. In Phœnicia and Carthage it was the custom of kings and great men to unite their names with that of their god, as Hannibal, ‘grace of Baal,’ Hasdrubal, ‘help of Baal.’ Amongst the Jews also many names of cities were compounded with Baal; Pg 23as Baal-Gad, Baal-Hammon, Baal-Thamar. In the ‘authorised version’ the name is Baal-zebub, afterwards changed to Beel-zebub; the original conception is, however, one of great difficulty and obscurity, unless, indeed, we may directly connect the worship of Baal with that of the sun. Josephus declares that the Assyrians erected the first statue of Mars, and worshipped him as a God, calling him Baal. We read in the book of Kings how Josiah destroyed the altars which had been reared by Manasseh, and ‘put down the idolatrous priests, ... them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven’; these instances suggesting that Baal and the sun were two separate deities. On the other hand, Baal-Hammon is represented on a Carthaginian monument with a crown of rays. Baalbek was called by the Greeks Heliopolis (sun-city) and at Baal-Shemeh (house of the sun) there was a temple to Baal.

If, therefore, we may regard Baal and the sun as synonymous, the matter is at once simplified, since the sun is the bringer of flies, and is in actual fact Lord of the Flies.

According to Pliny, the Cyrenians offered sacrifices to the fly-catching god Achor, because the flies bred pestilence, and this author remarks that no sooner is the sacrifice offered, than the flies perish.

The Greeks had their Jupiter Myiodes, or fly-hunter, to whom a bull was sacrificed in order to propitiate him in driving away the flies which infested the Olympic Games. There was also a Hercules Myiodes, the origin of whose worship Pausanias declares to have been the following:—Hercules, being molested by swarms of flies while he was about to offer sacrifice to Olympian Jupiter in the temple, offered a victim to that god under the name of Myagron, upon which all the flies flew away beyond the river Alpheus. Pausanias further refers to the festival of Athena at Aliphera in Arcadia, which was opened with a sacrifice and prayer to the Fly-catcher, and states that after the sacrifice, the flies gave no further trouble.

Pg 24

Ælian (Nat. An., xi. 8) affirms that at the festival of Apollo in the island of Leucas, an ox was sacrificed; the flies, glutted with the blood, gave no further trouble. The same author states that the flies of Pisa (Olympia) were more virtuous, because they did their duty, not for a consideration, but out of pure regard for the god.18

Scaliger derives the name of Beel-zebub, the false god, from Baalim-Zebabim, which signifies lord of sacrifices. This deity was worshipped during the time of our Saviour, who is accused by the Pharisees of casting out devils by Beel-zebub, the prince of the devils. So Holman Hunt, in his picture of the finding of the Saviour in the Temple, with fine perception, places a fly-whisk in the hand of a child.19 A child is here propounding to his elders a purer and loftier system of ethics than had heretofore been dreamed of; a child, likewise, banishes the servants of Belial.

With the Jewish writers of the Middle Ages the worship of Baal frequently signified the practising of the rites of the Christian religion; thus Rabbi Joseph Ben Meir in his Chronicles states that Clovis forsook his God and worshipped Baal, and that a high place was built at Paris for Baal Dionysius, i.e. the Cathedral of St. Denis.20

The Assyrians employed the tall standard and sceptral fans in a precisely similar way to the Egyptians. In the restoration of the palace of Sargon (Khorsabad), compiled by Felix Thomas, given by Perrot and Chipiez, History of Art in Chaldæa and Assyria, vol. ii. p. 24, two enormous frond standards are placed at the entrance to the Harem Court, these being circular, formed of palm fronds in bronze gilt. ‘In India, as in Japan,’ to quote again Sir George Birdwood, ‘the standard is often blazoned with some totemistic, symbolical, or heraldic device, and it was probably so blazoned in Assyria, for from Assyria the practice Pg 25spread to Greece and Rome of using such devices on both standards and shields. Later this ritual was revived by the Saracens, and was spread over mediæval Europe by the Crusaders returning from the Holy Land.’

The Assyrian disc-standards were probably of brass or other metal, fixed to the inside of the chariot. Two devices appear on the monuments—the Divine Archer standing on a bull, and two bulls running in opposite directions. These were enclosed in a circle at the end of a long staff ornamented with streamers and tassels.21

The Assyrians employed the primitive plaited fan, used in Egypt, both crescent-shaped, square, and triangular. On a relief from Nimroud, in the British Museum, in a circular arrangement divided into four compartments, representing the interior of a castle with towers and battlements, a eunuch is waving in his right hand, over a stand on which are vases and bowls, a square, flag-shaped fan, certainly of the plaited variety; in the left hand is what appears to be a fly-whisk.

On a silver dish in the Strogonoff collection illustrated in Orientalische Teppiche, Alois Riegl, a Sassanian monarch is seated, cross-legged, holding a tazza, and attended by two servitors, one of whom waves a plaited flag-fan of oblong shape. The dish, which bears strong traces of Indian influence, is probably of the period of Varannes II., A.D. 273-277.

The swinging-fan, suspended from the ceiling, and operated by pulling a cord, is an ancient device for cooling the air of rooms. The testimony of an Assyrian bas-relief from Nineveh indicates its use at the period to which these sculptures belong—seventh to tenth century B.C. Wicquefort, in his translation of the embassy of Garcias de Figueron, gives the name of fan to a kind of chimney or ventiduct, in use among the Persians, to furnish air and wind into their houses, without which the heat would be insupportable.22

Pg 26

A variant of this device for ventilating rooms is recorded in Chinese annals. Under the Han dynasty, B.C. 205-A.D. 25, a skilful workman at Ch’ang—and named Ting Huan—made a fan of seven large wheels 10 feet in diameter, the whole turned by a single man.

The luxurious Guez de Balzac, in the twentieth letter, written from Rome in 1621, to the Cardinal de la Villette, with his customary extravagant hyperbole, describes his method of guarding against the heat during the broiling month of July—‘Four servants constantly fan my apartments; they raise wind enough to make a tempestuous sea.’


Sea Nymphs, Italian, 1760, gouache on skin; horn stick, finely piqué in gold, panaches with crown & fleurs de lys of France. Mr W. Burdett-Coutts. M.P.

Pg 27



In Greece, as in Egypt, the fan had a sacred as well as a secular use. M. Uzanne refers to the fan of feathers which those discreet and irreproachable ladies, the Vestals, made use of to fan the flame of their sacrifices, and, rather roguishly, seizes the idea of fanning the flame to suggest that of inward flames kindled by the arrows of the little god Cupid, in place of the chaste ardours of the sacred mysteries. The fans of the priests of Isis, when Isis was a Grecian divinity, were formed of the wings of a bird, attached to the end of a long wand, and thus made to resemble the caduceus of Mercury.

The Greeks received the fan from Egypt and Assyria through the Phœnicians, who were the traders between the east and the west. In the sarcophagus of Amanthus (Cyprio-Phœnician), representing a train of horsemen, footmen, and chariots, the horses’ heads are adorned with a pleated fan crest, similar to that which was used by the Persians; the figure in the first biga carries a parasol. Thus Perrot and Chipiez in their description of this monument: ‘The parasol which shades the head of the great person in the first biga is the symbol of Asiatic royalty: the fan-shaped plume which rises above the heads of all the chariot horses, is an ornament that one sees in the same position in Assyria and Lycia, when the sculptor desires to represent horses magnificently caparisoned.’

Pg 28

This remarkable example is of the highest interest as showing that the pleated form—in this instance, doubtless, rigid, and fixed to a short handle, also seen in both Egyptian and Assyrian monuments—has been employed from a very remote period.23

The earliest Greek fans were, doubtless, branches of the myrtle, acacia, the triple leaves of the Oriental plantain, and also the leaves of the lotus, which latter, together with the myrtle, were consecrated to Venus, were symbols of the dolce far niente, and therefore peculiarly appropriate to this instrument of reposeful ease. The myrtle bough was also used by the Romans, as we learn from Martial, iii. 82, serving at the same time as fan and fly-flap—

‘Et aestuanti tenue ventilat frigus
Supina prasino concubina flabello;
Fugátque muscas myrteâ puer virgâ.’
Terra Cotta Statuettes. British Museum.

The single leaf or heart-shaped fan occurs constantly in Greek terra-cottas; a number of examples are to be seen in the British and other Museums. In the Victoria and Albert Museum is a charming little Pg 29winged Amor, draped, tripping gaily along, hiding his face behind a fan of this shape. Blondel refers to a female figure in the Louvre, seated at a feast, holding a leaf-fan; also in a fresco at Pompeii a figure is seen holding a fan which this author mistakes for that of a different shape, but which is really a perspective view of the plantain-leaf. We see the triform leaf-fan in the hands of a Tanagra figure in the collection of Louis Fould, illustrated in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts for 1860; this, as well as a number of Tanagra figures, evidently representing priestesses of Venus. It is impossible to determine with any degree of accuracy the material and construction of these fans: in some instances they are evidently stretched on a frame, and adorned with ornament either painted or embroidered; occasionally, also, the decorative motif is that of the natural veining of the leaf; the handles being usually very short, in many cases scarcely visible. The slight vestiges of colour remaining on these statuettes must in no instance be taken as suggesting the colouring of the original fans. The business of the Tanagra sculptor was to make a statuette and not a portrait of any particular fan; the colouring of the fan of the statuette would therefore be determined by the general colour scheme of which it formed a part.

The circular fan of peacocks’ feathers appears as early as the fifth century B.C., and even at this date had already been used in Asia Minor.

References to the feather-fan are of constant occurrence in the writings of Greek authors. A slave in the Orestes of Euripides exclaims: ‘After the Phrygian fashion I chanced with the close circle of feathers to be fanning the gale, that sported in the ringlets of Helen.’

Instances of the feather-fan are common on Greek vases,—on the Campanian Hydra (F. 212), British Museum, the shape in this instance being that of the reversed heart. In the fourth vase room, on an oil-flask, with Aphrodite seated in the lap of Adonis, a figure appears holding a very large fan, but similar in shape to the first mentioned; and on the ApulianPg 30 Hydra, F. 352, a fan appears which is evidently a conventional representation of the peacock feather-fan. The long-handled fan was also adopted by the Greeks, these being waved by servants or attendants, as in Egypt.

The Etruscans, amongst whom the luxury of the fan is early seen, and who transmitted it later to the Romans, used the peacock feathers, of FROM AN APULIAN HYDRA.
(British Museum.)
different lengths, in a semicircle: such a fan appears on a large vase in the Louvre.

On an Etruscan crater, representing Heracles strangling the serpents, surrounded by the greater gods, a fan of plain feathers is held in the hand of one of the attendants. On a sarcophagus at Vulci, found in the winter of 1845-6, a female figure appears waving a large fan, ῥιπίς, identical in shape with fans used in India at the present day. In the Grotta del Sole e della Luna (tomb of the Sun and Moon) at Vulci, discovered in 1830, one of the ceilings has a singular fan-pattern, given in Mon. Ined. Inst., i. tav. xli., the counterpart of which is found in two tombs at Cervetri, whence we may conclude it was no uncommon decoration in Etruscan houses.24

In the Museo Gregorio, Rome, are half-a-dozen handles of fans, with holes for threads or wire, to tie in feathers or leaves.

The Rape of Helen. ‘Vernis Martin’. Lady Lindsay.

‘The fashion of the fan,’ says M. de Linas,25 ‘was probably introduced into Italy in the sixth century B.C. We learn from Dionysius of Halicarnassus, that Aristodemus, tyrant of Cumæ, and ally of Porsenna, corrupted Pg 31the youths of this town by making them effeminate buffoons, accompanied by followers who carried the flabellum and umbrella.’

The fan, although perhaps in less constant use by the Romans, was still an article of very general employment. In the Eunuchus of Terence we are introduced to a pretty scene in which the fan plays an important part. Chaerea is relating to Antipho his good fortune with the fair Thais:

Chaerea. While I was revolving these things in my mind, the virgin meanwhile was called away to bathe; she goes, bathes, and returns, after which they laid her on a couch; I stand waiting to see if they had any orders for me. At last, one came up and said—‘Here, Dorus, take this fan, and, while we are bathing, fan her thus. When we have done you may bathe too, if you have a mind.’ I take it very demurely.

Antipho. I could have then wished to see that impudent face of thine, and the awkward figure so great a booby must make holding a fan.

Chaerea. Scarce had she done speaking, when in a moment they all hurried out of the room, and ran to the bath in a noisy manner, as is usual when masters are absent. Meantime, the virgin falls asleep. I steal a private glance thus, with the corner of my eye, through the fan; at the same time look round everywhere, to see if the coast was quite clear....

The Romans employed the fly-flap (muscarium) formed of peacocks’ feathers, which was often provided with a long handle, so that the fan could be waved by a servant (flabellifer), who protected his mistress from the insects during sleep.

Plautus, Trinummus, II. i., refers to these flabilliferae, but in this instance the term is obviously applied to female fan-bearers.

Propertius, II. xxiv. 11, speaks of flabella of the tail feathers of the peacock.

The peacock fly-flap is also referred to by Martial, xiv. 67:

‘What, from thy food, repels profaning flies,
Strutted, a gorgeous train, with Gemmy eyes.’
‘Lambere quae turpes prohibet tua prandia muscas,
Alitis eximiae cauda superba fuit.’

Pg 32

The same author, III. lxxii. 10-11, says of Zoilus that when overcome by the heat, a pleasant coolness is wafted about him with a leek-green flabellum.

The Romans also adopted the tail of the yak, but this last, which appears to have been imported from India, was not so commonly used as the tabellæ, a species of fan of square or circular shape, formed of precious wood or very finely cut ivory, referred to by Ovid in the third book of his Amores. ‘Wouldst thou,’ he exclaims, ‘have an agreeable zephyr to refresh thy face? This tablet agitated by my hand will give you this pleasure.’ Those also were the fans the young Roman exquisites carried when accompanying their mistresses along the Via Sacra, fanning them gallantly, representations of which appear on vases in the Louvre.26

Propertius, also, in the fourth book of his Elegies, represents Hercules as seated at the feet of Omphale, fan in hand.

(British Museum.)

An Eastern Potentate taking tea. finely painted in gouache on gold ground, French, c. 1780. stick modern. Mrs Hungerford Pollen

Pg 33




It is difficult for the Western mind to realise the degree of importance assumed by the fan, the fly-flap, and the umbrella, in the countries of the Far East, especially India; these objects being regarded with an affection almost, indeed actually, amounting to reverence. Its primal cause is to be found in the overpowering insistence of the sun’s rays, and the sense of grateful relief afforded by shade and disturbance of the air. To discover its origin we must look back, beyond the age of legendary lore, to actual mythology, when we find representations of the Puranic snake gods of India with the sacred umbrella over their heads, attended by Cherubim waving the fan and the fly-flap. Similarly we find the sacred five- or seven-headed cobra itself assuming the office of sunshade, uprearing its hood to form a canopy for Buddha or for the Hindoo gods.

In the Mahábhárata, the ancient epic of Hindostan, we have a description of the death of the monarch Pândou, in which great crowds assemble at the bier to do homage to the dead, bringing offerings ofPg 34 fly-flaps and white umbrellas, the latter having each a hundred ribs of pure gold, the donors thereby ensuring for themselves a place in Paradise.

In the same epic, the poet represents the sacred Karna, in the midst of the acclamations of victory, seated majestically upon his throne, beneath the emblems of the umbrella, the fan, and the fly-flap; these being regarded as the most solemn symbols of state throughout the East.

Thus, the title of the King of Burmah is ‘Lord of the twenty-four umbrellas,’ this being the number always borne before the Emperor of China upon every state occasion, and accompanying him even to the hunting-field.27

The connection between this umbrella-reverence and primitive tree-worship is abundantly established, both having their origin in climatic conditions. On the Sanchi Tope is figured the sacred flowering Sal tree (beneath which Gautama Buddha died at Kasia), surmounted by two Chhatras, these, together with the tree, being adorned with garlands. Again, on the Great Tope at Buddha Gaya, B.C. 250, erected in front of the sacred Bo tree (Ficus religiosa), beneath which Gautama attained to the Buddhahood, are umbrellas hung with garlands. Also in a Thibetan picture of the death of Gautama given in Dr. Waddell’s Buddhism of Thibet, we see a garlanded and festooned umbrella in the centre over Buddha, with attendants waving fly-flaps, and on the right a large standard fan.

So deeply rooted, indeed, is the reverence for the umbrella, and so completely in the minds of the populace are these objects identified with regal power, that, upon the occasion of the visit of the Prince of Wales (King Edward VII.) to India, it was deemed necessary for his Royal Pg 35Highness to appear beneath a golden umbrella on an elephant in order that his sovereign dignity might be demonstrated.

In the manuscript of Nieder Muenster of Ratisbon, now in the library at Munich, we find a curious blending of the tree and umbrella form, introduced as accessories in representations of the four evangelists, doubtless merely intended as conventional floral forms, but evidently the work of some monkish illuminator who had become influenced by Oriental mythology.

In Ratisbon, also, is an illumination of Christ bearing the cross, to one arm of which is attached a half-closed umbrella, reproduced in Curiosités Mystérieuses. ‘Le pommeau,’ says the chronicler, ‘est orné de ce que les Romains nomment Ombrellino (petit dais en parasol). S’il s’agissait à coup sûr de ce baldaquin (qui est le propre de certains dignitaires) nous pourrions rappeler que ce mot figurait déjà dans l’étiquette impériale avant Constantin.’28

On Attic and other Greek vases of the third and fourth century B.C., to quote Sir George Birdwood, it is often very difficult to distinguish the fan from the umbrella. ‘Where it is distinctly an umbrella, it is either of the peaked Assyrian form, or of the dome-(‘rondel’ of Valentijin, etc., and ‘arundels’ of Fryer) topped Indian form (chhatra); and when it is distinctly a fan, it is usually of the Indian type, determined by the fan palm frond and the peacock feather, and rarely of the Egyptian type determined by the date-palm and the ostrich feather.’

In the early Persian bas-reliefs, says Chardin in his Voyages, the kings of Persia are frequently represented in the act of mounting on horseback surrounded by beautiful slaves; the duty of one being that of holding an umbrella over the head of the monarch. This, not only for the purpose of protecting the sovereign from the rays of the sun, but also to demonstrate his absolute right of life and death over both prisoners and subjects.

Pg 36

Umbrellas formed an important feature in the Greek Bacchic processions. Aristophanes refers to white umbrellas and baskets, signifying pomp and joy, as being intended to recall to men the acts of Ceres and Proserpine, and constantly borne by virgins at all religious ceremonials.

In a miniature in the Royal Library at Paris, of Sivaji on the march, a sayiban or sun-fan is seen, having an arrangement of drapery in form of a curtain or valance.29 Here we discover a point of contact between the fan and the umbrella, although it is probable that in this instance its use as a shade-giving instrument had not developed.

A much closer form-connection, however, between fan and umbrella is seen in the simple leaf section of the Palmyra palm, cut level at the top, used by the natives in most parts of India. This assumes exactly the shape of the pleated fan, the pleating formed by Nature’s deft hands. The large Cingalese umbrella used by headsmen and at weddings is of the same shape, made of the young leaves of the talipot palm, often richly decorated with plaited patterns in various colours, and with mica inlay. Of similar form, also, is the sacred processional parasol of the Indian Mussulmans (Shia sect) and the Hindus.

The fan, therefore, must be considered as part of a continuous development from the umbrella symbol of might and power, employed equally in the East as in the West, and the infinitude of military and processional fan-like standards and sceptral fans, to the hand-fan and fly-whisk.

We discover a direct affinity between the hissing of the wind Pg 37through the open metal mouth and silken bag of the Roman Dragon standard, and the beating of the wings of the Norse Raven, used for a similar purpose; between the Assyrian disc standards with the divine archer standing on the sacred bull, and the cruciferal discs employed at a more CINGALESE SĒSATA (Made of the leaf of the talipot palm, enriched with plates of mica, the handle lacquered wood; length, including handle, 7 feet.) recent date in Christian Church ceremonial; between the chauri waved over the head of Krishna, and the wafting of divine influence by the angelic attendants upon the Saviour in early Christian missal-painting.

The alums or allums used in the Moharram procession in India are analogous to the standards used by the Greeks and Romans, and those figured on the gates of the Sanchi Tope, consisting not only of flags and banners, but of all sorts of devices in metal, raised on the top of a long staff and carried to battle.30

The Cingalese Sēsata, a ceremonial fan for royal and religious use, or for attendance upon great personages, consists of an embroidered cloth disc, or talipot leaf, decorated with images of the sun, moon, etc., with mica and other materials introduced, mounted on a lacquered staff. Tenants of the first rank attend the Disvāta (lord chief) on journeys, convey his orders, carrying the great banner, state umbrella, and Sēsata.31 A smaller disc-fan, the disc covered with crimson velvet, the handle about fifteen inches long, of carved ivory, richly inlaid, occurs in the Louvre.

Pg 38

The royal standard, banner, or ensign, employed in India, composed of peacocks’ feathers, is illustrated in a MS. copy of the Akbar-Namah (c. 1597), the form being circular, and also that of a somewhat elongated semicircle.

The fly-flap, chowr, chowrie, chourie, chaurie, is next in dignity to the umbrella, and was in the first instance devoted to the service of the gods. On a bas-relief of the pagoda of Elephanta, described by the Orientalist Langlés in his History of Hindostan, a servant is seen behind Brahma and Indra holding in each hand chauries or fly-whisks. In the India Museum is a charming little chaurie with silver handle and ribbons of silver gauze tipped with red silk, used by Jains to drive away insects from their idol without destroying them.

Chauries are formed of various materials—of ivory, the strips of which are sometimes cut to incredible fineness for such a substance; in these cases the handles are formed of the same material, richly carved—of the bushy tail of the (From a painting on talc. Madras. Nineteenth century.) Himalayan yak, both black and white, the handles either of metal, ivory, or wood—of sandalwood, also cut into the finest possible strips, the handles richly carved; the waving of these chauries emitting a fine fragrance—of the stripped quills of the larger birds, more generally the peacock—of horse-hair and the various grasses. The handles were often formed of the horns of various animals; an example occurs in the Horniman Museum, in which instance it is the antelope. The chaurie from the tail of the yak was in ancient India fixed upon a gold or ornamented shaft between the ears of the war-horse, like the plume of the war-horse of chivalry; the banner or banneret, with the Pg 39device of the chief, rose at the back of the car. ‘The waving chaurie on the steed’s broad brow points backwards, motionless as a picture.’32

Quill, & Sandal Wood Chauries, Peacock Emblem of Royalty, Yak, & Ivory Chauries. India Museum.

This, it will be seen, is in strict conformity to the usage of the ancient Egyptians, who employed the tall fan emblem in a precisely similar way; these proud plumes serving a double purpose—an ornamental, and, in the case of Egypt, even an heraldic purpose, and also the purely utilitarian one of affording the animal some relief from fly pests.

The peacock has ever been regarded as a sacred bird, both by the peoples of the East and the West. The Greek fable of Argus the hundred-eyed, the sleepless guardian of Io, serves to connect the idea of extreme vigilance with that of true kingship, i.e. the universal preserver and father of the people. The peacock therefore presented a double significance to the minds of the Hindu peoples; it expressed the vigilance of kingship together with its magnificence. The peacock feather emblem of royalty is the sign or insignia of the king’s high office, and the EMBLEM OF ROYALTY
(From an illumination of a Court reception by the King of Oudh.)
principal evidence of his sovereignty: wherever a king appears he is accompanied by an attendant bearing this emblem, which appears in all pictorial or other representations of royalty.

It was, doubtless, in the first instance a fly-flap, and is either composed entirely of feathers, or, it consists of a bunch of feathers enclosed two-thirds of the distance in a silver casing, usually ornamented with an imbricated pattern; the handle also of silver. Several examples of this object appear in the India Museum, and numberless representations occur in sculpture, illumination, embroidery, etc.

The poet Valmiki tells of the sumptuous sceptre, studded with jewels, prepared for the sacrifices to Rama—a magnificent fan with a radiant garland resembling the full moon in the clear night sky.

Pg 40

The word punkhá, or pankhá, from pankh, a feather, a bird, is a generic term applied in India to all fans, pankhi meaning a small fan. This derivation serves as an indication of the early use of the plumed fan in India, which divides honours with the palm-leaf fan in point of antiquity, and doubtless also as suggesting a similarity between the beating of a bird’s wings and the movement of the fan.

The earliest plumed fans probably consisted of a pair of complete wings set shoulder to shoulder, resembling the caduceus of Mercury, which was regarded as a symbol of happiness, peace, and concord, the wings expressing diligence.

Feather-fans assume all manner of shapes, as the large round banner-fans already referred to; the familiar crescent-like form with a short ROYAL STANDARDS
(From a MS. copy of the Akbar-Namah. Sixteenth century.)
handle set horizontally at its base; and the various hand-screens, these either composed entirely of peacocks’ feathers, the breast and neck feathers forming a pattern in the centre, with a border of tail feathers; or, the centre formed of plaited pith and cane of various colours, beetles’ wings, etc., with the border again of feathers; the handles being of cane or wood, or of wood covered with cane strippings or other material.

In Persia and Arabia, from the first centuries of our era, fans were made of ostrich feathers, many being ornamented with that form of inscription which is such a leading feature of the decorative art of these countries.

Large Hand Fan of Sandal Wood, Indian. 18th Cent. pierced & carved. Mrs Hungerford Pollen.

The crescent-shaped hand-fan also dates from a very early period. In its primitive form, it is seen in the painted decoration of the BudPg 41dhist HAND-FAN
(From the cave paintings at Ajanta.)
cave-temples of Ajanta (first century B.C. to eighth century A.D.), the example given being probably ornamented with strips or panels of mica, the constructional portion of cane or pith.

A variant of this form, still more simple in its construction, is seen in one of the sculptured roundels of the Buddhist tope at Amaravati, Southern India, circa second century A.D.; an attendant upon a great personage waves a circular fan, having the handle stretched across the face, PLAITED GRASS-FAN
(From the Amaravati Tope.)
with a circular opening near the lower edge to enable the handle to be gripped. All the foregoing types obtain at the present day, and are as modern as they are ancient.

The flag form of fan is, if possible, a still more remarkable instance of the persistence of certain decorative motifs throughout long periods of the world’s history. This type, again, is in use at the present day—the page of examples illustrated are of the mid-nineteenth century—this FLAG-FAN
(From the cave paintings at Ajanta.)
identical form appears in the wall-paintings at Ajanta;33 it is also seen in Egyptian and Assyrian sculptured reliefs; it was employed by the Copts from the third to the sixth century, and earlier in Arabia; it was in general use in Italy during the period of the Renaissance. There can be no possibility of doubt that this form of fan was common to the whole of the East and to a greater portion of the West, and has endured throughout the centuries.

These fans are of two kinds—rigid and flexible; in Pg 42 1. ‘TALAPAT’ FAN
2. PANKHÂ. (Embroidered velvet, with silver handle. Moorshedabad. India Museum.)
both instances they are invariably plaited, the material being stripped palm, bamboo, ivory, peacock quills, etc. The rigid variety is often placed loose in the handle, to allow of its being swung round and round like a policeman’s rattle. See illustration opposite.

The hatchet or halberd shape is a development of the flag form, and varies from the simple blade to that of a highly ornamental shape. The material is silk, velvet, cloth or other tissue, often richly embroidered with gold and silver thread, spangles, beetles’ wings, etc., with a fringe of either silver tinsel or peacocks’ feathers; the handles being of wood, cane, or silver. These are at present largely made at Delhi.

Occasionally the fan is entirely formed of threaded glass beads of various colours forming a pattern upon a wire framework, with a fringe of tinsel, the handle also overlaid with beads.

The primitive palm-fan occurs on the oldest Hindostani bas-reliefs, and is described by the poets. This primeval fan still forms part of the attire of certain Buddhist priests in Siam, and from it they take their name of ‘Talapoins’; the fan’s name being ‘talapat,’ or ‘palm-tree-leaf’ in the Siamese language.

This form (the reversed heart) is common to both the smaller hand-fans and the larger ceremonial and processional fans. The natural palm-leaf Pg 43 is employed, trimmed to the required shape, and used either plain, or painted in brilliant colours, or forming a base for a covering of embroidery, feathers or stuffs, as in the example from Moorshedabad (illustrated), which is of velvet, embroidered with silver.

Flag Fans, split palm & bamboo. 19th. Cent. Beaded Fan, & Palm Leaf Fan with mica insertions. India Museum.

These fans are of two kinds—rigid and flexible; in FAN OF GOLD
(Forming portion of the Burmese Regalia. India Museum.)
The lateral form, in which the leaf is set sidewise on the stem, follows the same principle of decorative development. It is used plain, painted, inlaid with talc as in the example illustrated, is embroidered with silk, spangles, beetles’ wings, etc.; it also supplies the shape or decorative motif for fans of a different material, as in the instance of the four long-handled fans, forming portion of the Burmese regalia, obtained from Mandalay in 1885, examples of a barbaric splendour only to be found in the gorgeous East. These are of gold, jewelled with rubies and the ‘nan-ratan’ or nine stone, the handles overlaid with gold and also jewelled.

Amongst fans formed of the more precious materials is a disc-shaped fan of gold, set with cabochon sapphires, an offering dedicated by Kīrti Ṡri to the ‘Tooth relic.’34 Figured in Mediæval Sinhalese Art, A. K. Coomaraswarmy.

In the collection of the Baroness Salomon de Rothschild at Paris is a fan of jade, richly studded with jewels.

Pg 44

Fans are also made of the sweet-scented Khaskhás root (Andropogon muricatus), and as these are generally used after being wetted, they impart to the air a cool fragrance; they are often highly ornamented with gold and silver spangles, gold thread, tinsel, beetles’ wings, etc., and occasionally provided with ivory handles. A pretty example occurs at Kew, where there is an excellent collection of fans made of the various vegetable substances. Fans of talc, decorated with exquisite illumination, were made at Tanjore during the eighteenth century. Specimens occur in the India Museum, South Kensington.

(Chamba. Nineteenth century.)

Representations of the fan are of constant occurrence in Indian work, both illumination, embroidery, sculpture, and other material. On a curiously primitive embroidered napkin from Chamba, we are introduced to the worship of a Hindu deity—a king and queen are kneeling under a palm-tree, the god Ganesh in the distance with flag-fan; an attendant bears the peacock feather emblem of royalty, a second attendant waves a large heart-shaped fan. On a small mat or pad of enamelled leather (Hyderabad, nineteenth century), we see a whimsical combination of Krishna and his damsels forming the similitude of an elephant, the umbrella, pankhá, and two fly-flappers being in evidence.

Pg 45

A beautiful illumination from a MS. copy of the Akbar-Namah, above quoted, shows a prince seated upon his throne in the act of receiving offerings; an attendant waves a fly-flap behind the throne, a second attendant bears one of the large pankhás beautifully embroidered in gold and colours.

We are also in another illumination introduced to a beautiful flowered parterre, in which a Mongol princess is seated before a rippling fountain; attendants wait upon her with fruits, vases containing unguents, spices, etc.; behind, a female attendant waves the fly-flap.

In the decoration of the entrance gate of the temple at Ajmir, a prince appears in a howdah on the back of an elephant, an attendant sits behind waving a fly-flap, a second flabellifer is seated on the head of the animal; the prince himself holds a small fan in his hand, an attendant on foot bears the pankhá, and another the insignia of royalty.

Fair and delicate though these creations of Eastern ingenuity may be, the genius of Oriental imagery and fancy has discovered for us a still more delicate and effective instrument—a Sanskrit poet recounts a graceful fable of a princess of extreme beauty, who, although constantly attending and fanning the divine fire with a view to increasing the prosperity of her father, never succeeded in producing a flame save by the breath of her charming lips.

Pg 46



‘Like the Moon’ borne by the guard of an Imperial concubine.
Chinese authorities are at variance concerning the invention of the fan, which has been attributed to the Emperor Hsien Yüan, B.C. 2697; to the Emperor Shun, B.C. 2255, and to the first ruler of the Chou dynasty, B.C. 1122.

According to a Chinese legend, it had its origin at the Feast of Lanterns, where, on an occasion when the heat became particularly oppressive, the beautiful daughter of a mandarin took off her mask, and agitated it so as to fan the air into a gentle breeze; the rest of the fair revellers were so much struck with the grace of the motion that they one and all let fall their masks and followed the example of the mandarin’s daughter.

The earliest fans were of the dyed feathers of various birds, and those of the peacock. We have an account of a present of two fans of feathers of ‘tsio rouge,’ offered to the Emperor Tchao-wang of the Chou dynasty, B.C. 1052, by the King of Thou-sieou, and it is affirmed in the ‘Tchéou-li’ that one of the chariots of the empress carried a feather-fan for the purpose of keeping the wheels free from dust.

The poet Thou-fou, in the ‘Song of Autumn,’ refers to fans of pheasants’ feathers as in royal use. The Emperor Kao-Tsong, of the Chang dynasty, 1323-1266 B.C., having heard the cry of the pheasant, an omen of good luck, resolved thenceforth to use only fans composed of the tail feathers of this bird.

Chinese Fan, paper mount, painted, with medallion of The Visit, stick silver-gilt filigree & enamel, 18th Cent. Mr M. Tomkinson.

Pg 47

These have continued in the service of royalty to a late period. A wing-shaped example, set laterally in a red lacquered handle, appearing FROM A PAINTED ROLL OF MING DYNASTY.
(British Museum.)
in the hand of an attendant, in a fine painted roll, by Ch’in Ying of the Ming dynasty, illustrating the occupations of Court ladies, the larger feathers numbering seven, this being the sacred number composing the fan, which is the attribute of Chung-li Ch’uan, one of the eight Taoist Immortals, the seven broad feathers corresponding to the constellation of seven stars on the left of the moon (Great Bear), the seat in the Taoist heavens of their supreme deity, Shang Ti, round whom all the other star gods circulate in FAN OF HSI WANG MU
(From a Japanese painting. British Museum.)
homage. This fan is illustrated on the large lacquered screen at the Victoria and Albert Museum, representing the Taoist Genii worshipping the god of Longevity, and constantly figures in pictorial and other representations.

Similar fans with several rows of pointed feathers appear in painted and decorative work; a curious example being seen in a large drawing from Tonkin (Louvre). The outer row of feathers, white and pale blue; the second, yellow; the third, those of the peacock; the body of the fan, green, red, white, and blue.

In the lacquered screen above referred to, a large fan of this character is waved over the head of one of the devotees riding aloft on a cloud, wending his way towards the mountain paradise, the home of the God.

The feather-fan is one of the chief attributes of Hsi Wang Mu, thePg 48 famed Queen of the Genii (Royal Mother of the West), whose dwelling was a mountain palace in Central Asia, where she held Court with her fairy legions and received the great Taoist Rishis and certain favoured mortals, and whose amours with the Han Emperor Wu Ti have given much occupation for both author and artist.35

Her fan is borne by one of her four handmaidens, who, like the Dêva Kings of Mount Sumeru, are severally related to the four points of the compass. It assumes various shapes, as that of a wing, in the WHITE PLUMED FAN OF HSI WANG MU
(From a painting of the Chinese School of Japan. British Museum.)
painting by a pupil of Itcho riū of the Japanese popular school, British Museum, 1722; a bunch of long pointed plumes set in a bamboo handle, in the painting (Chinese School of Japan, British Museum, 778), in which a young girl in deer-skin, standing beneath the sacred peach-tree of the Immortals, offers the fruit to the goddess who, with her attendant bearing the fan, appears upon a cloud above the waves.

The queen is also represented with the large pear-shaped screen, as in the painting of the same school, British Museum, 1022, the screen decorated with the sun, moon, and clouds. In the painting previously referred to (No. 1722), the goddess herself holds a smaller pear-shaped screen. Each of the ‘fore-mentioned paintings are Japanese, but the fan forms are, unquestionably, taken from older Chinese originals.

Chinese Fan. filigree & enamel. Victoria & Albert Museum.

The earliest illustrations, however, of this personage and her fan, Pg 49 and probably the oldest representations of fans in Chinese art, are those of the sculptures of the Han dynasty, B.C. 206-A.D. 25. In these, Hsi-wang Mu, wearing a coroneted hat, is attended by ladies carrying cup, mirror, and fan. On the same relief the Emperor Mu Wang of the Chou dynasty, B.C. 1001, is attended by a servitor with fan and towel or handkerchief. In the frieze forming the lower part of the relief, we see the ‘Chariot of the Sage’ preceded by two men on foot, with staves and fans.

(From paintings in the British Museum.)

On another of these reliefs, representing the discovery of one of the sacred bronze tripods, the ancient palladia of the kingdom, the two commissioners deputed by the Emperor to superintend its recovery from the river are attended by servitors bearing fans. These are the small hand-screens (pien-mien) described by M. Rondot as being larger in the upper part, their shape approaching that of a reversed trapezium with the angles rounded off.

Pg 50

This same author refers to four screens of white jade (regarded by the Chinese as the most precious of precious stones), the handles of an odoriferous amber, that were offered by the Emperor Chun-Hi of the Southern Sung dynasty, 1174-1190, to his Empress. At this time the screens were ornamented with incrustation and inscription, which was much esteemed, and this author quotes a curious passage from the Annals of the Thsi to the effect that Wang-sun-pen, of Kin-ling, represented in the space of a few inches a perspective view of rivers, mountains, valleys, and plains, stretching over a thousand miles of land. These screen pictures are referred to in the Ku yü t’ou pu, an illustrated catalogue of ancient jade, in one hundred books, compiled in 1176 by an imperial commission headed by Lung Ta-Yuan, President of the Board of Rites.

The small hand-screens assume a variety of forms—circular, pear-shaped, heart-shaped, etc., and are made of various materials, as—(1) The natural palm leaf, seen in the Chinese painting, British Museum, 37. (2) The palm leaf cut to various shapes, with a bamboo handle running up the middle, as in the Japanese example given on page 61. (3) Of bamboo; from Chinese records we learn that on the fifth day of the fifth month of the year corresponding to our 219, the Emperor presented to the members of the Imperial Academy a fan of bamboo, carved and painted blue. There is also a record of an existing fan of oblong form, made of bamboo leaf, ornamented with bulrushes, an inscription on the field of the fan. This dates from the sixth century A.D. (4) Of the turtle shell: the two portions held together with metal plates, with a wooden or other handle, examples of which occur in the Musée Guimet, Paris. (5) Of silk stretched upon a frame, with painted or other decoration, as in the two charming examples illustrated from the collection of Mr. W. Crewdson. Both front and reverse are given: the latter decorated in that system of feather-work much affected by the Chinese, and in which they display great skill. The feathers are usually the turquoise tinted plumes of the kingfisher: in the present Pg 51 instance the design is alternated by an imbrication of peacocks’ feathers. The handles are of carved ivory.

Hand screen, Chinese, painted silk, reverse embroidered feather work, carved ivory handle. Mr Wilson Crewdson.

There are also the cockade screens, usually of ivory or sandalwood.

Representations of the earlier large ceremonial banner screens appear on a carved pedestal of a Buddhist image, Northern Wei dynasty, A.D. 524; these are oval in form, and are seen in both sculptured and painted representations down to recent times.

In the Musée Guimet in Paris is a large fan of red lacquer framework (reversed heart shape) enclosing a series of metal ribs through which the wind plays; in the centre are painted dragons.

Among the painted representations in the India Museum, of objects from the Summer Palace at Pekin, is a circular screen, ‘like the moon,’ borne by the guard of an imperial concubine. See illustration, p. 46.

A favourite device for the decoration of these larger screens is that of the fabled Phœnix, the Ho bird of the Japanese. This is seen in the painting of the Chinese school of Japan, British Museum, 822, in which one of the two attendants on a Chinese Emperor carries a long oval screen bordered with peacocks’ feathers, and ornamented with two Phœnixes.36

We therefore perceive that the ceremonies and customs relating to the fan, no less than the various forms which this instrument assumed, were practically identical with the ancient peoples of the East and West;—the same order of development, having its origin in the natural suggestion afforded by the wings of birds and of the broader leaved plants; the fans of the Han dynasty reliefs, their exact counterpart being found in Egypt and Assyria; the rigid hand-screens corresponding to those tabellæ which the Romans derived from the Greeks, who in turn received them

Pg 52

from the peoples of Asia Minor, and which, doubtless, had their origin in the more remote East; the employment of the fan in both religious and civil ceremonial and in war.37

Among the Bat Bu’u (eight precious things) carried at the end of staves by the inhabitants of Annam in their ceremonial processions, is a fan (Quat) symbolising the graceful perfection of the form of woman, and the light breeze that tempers the heat of the summer sun.38 These Bat Bu’u are made in three ways—

1. Of carved wood lacquered and gilt.
2. Of tin or pewter.
3. In the form of transparencies to be lighted from within.

A huge wooden fan is carried as part of the insignia of a mandarin’s procession.39

The invention of the folding-fan is generally credited to the ingenious little inhabitants of the land of the rising sun; its date, however, as well as its precise character, is impossible to determine with anything approaching to accuracy. Tradition says that it was designed by an artist who lived in the reign of the Emperor Jen-ji, about 670 A.D., and was formed upon the principle of the construction of a bat’s wing, this being in conformity with the general usage of Japanese designers, who derived their artistic motifs from natural constructive forms. The date of its introduction into China is also a matter of considerable uncertainty: we have a reference to it in a Chinese work of the date 960, to the effect that the tsin-theou-chen, or folding-fan, was introduced by Tchang-ping-hai, and was supposed to be offered as a tribute by the barbarians of the south-east, who came, holding in their hands the pleated fan, which occasioned much laughter and ridicule. All Chinese authors agree, however, that Pg 53 it was the invention of foreigners, i.e. the Japanese, who, together with the Tartars, possessed folding-fans before they were known in China.40

Chinese Fan, paper mount, painted & richly gilt, red lacquered stick. Miss Moss.

M. Rondot records the fact that at first, only courtesans made use of folding-fans, honest women carried round screens.41

Since the appearance of the folding-fan, various materials have been pressed into its service, including ivory, tortoise-shell, lacquer, mother of pearl, the various woods—especially sandalwood, the more precious metals, silk, skin, and paper.

No nation possesses a keener appreciation of ivory as a vehicle for artistic expression than the Chinese, whose carved balls in concentric spheres of open work are the wonder of western peoples. Ivory fans date from a very remote period, it is believed as early as 990 B.C., and are marvels of patient ingenuity.

The Imperial Ivory Works within the palace at Peking was founded toward the close of the seventeenth century, and became the centre for the best production in this delicate material.

Ivory fans are either of pierced flat open work, or elaborately carved with subjects, the backgrounds of which are formed by delicate ribbing, imparting a lightness and softness to the fan not obtainable by any other means. An extraordinarily skilful example is the cockade-fan in the Wyatt collection at South Kensington; this, together with several others in the same collection, have monograms in cursive European characters, and were executed to the order of Europeans. In each instance the blades are connected by means of a ribbon running through the whole. One

Pg 54

example only of these fans is given; that bearing the word ‘Angela’—fitting name of the gentle lady whose memory is revered wherever the English language is spoken.

Tortoise-shell is carved with the same consummate skill as ivory, and on the same principle of delicate piercing and ribbing. Two such fans occur in the Wyatt collection, profusely decorated in relief with figures of horsemen, buildings, boats, and flowers. The material, which is softened both by warm water and dry heat, is obtained from the loggerhead turtle of the Malay Archipelago and Indian Ocean, and imported to Canton, a centre both for tortoise-shell and ivory workers. An extremely effective and picturesque fan is that in the same collection, formed of the feathers of the Argus pheasant, cut short to the fan shape, the sticks of carved tortoise-shell. In this the colours of the feathers harmonise extremely well with the translucent red brown of the tortoise-shell.

This material is also lacquered, one of the earliest and most prized of the Chinese arts, and the technique of which is fully described in the Ko ku yao lun, a learned work on antiquities published in the reign of Hung Wu, the founder of the Ming dynasty, 1387. This substance is obtained from the lac-tree (Rhus vernicifera), cultivated for the purpose throughout Central and Southern China. The tree exudes a resinous sap that becomes black upon its exposure to the air, the sap being extracted from the tree at night, during the summer months, and dried, ground, and strained through hempen cloth to an evenly flowing liquid, which is applied by the brush.

Gold plays an important part both in the composition of the lacquer itself, to which it imparts a richness and pellucidity which is extremely beautiful, and also in its subsequent decoration. The fan and case of Canton lacquer in the Wyatt collection are richly decorated with panels of buildings and gardens, on a diapered background, overlaid with flowers, butterflies, and other devices, and are excellent examples of Chinese gold Pg 55 lacquer, an art which, although originating in China, has been somewhat neglected, and has, at a later period, been brought by the Japanese to a greater perfection than the Chinese have at any time attained.

Lacquered Fan. Lady Northcliffe
Carved Ivory Fan, with name ‘Angela’. Mr W. Burdett-Coutts. M.P.

Sandalwood is largely employed for fans, on account of its lightness, the ease with which it is worked, and also its fine aroma. The tree is indigenous to India, and is imported by the Chinese, who employ it for a variety of purposes, including the perfumed joss-sticks which are common throughout the East. These fans are worked on the same principle of flat piercing as those of ivory. They are also carved in relief, but can scarcely be said to rival the last-named substance with its delicate variety of translucent softness. The large fan at South Kensington is a good example.

Mother of pearl is a favourite material for fan-sticks on account of its beautiful play of iridescent colour. A number of fans of Chinese workmanship, both of mother of pearl and ivory, have found their way to Europe and have been remounted. Such a fan is that in the Wyatt collection with a subject finely painted on chicken skin by Eugène André.

Bamboo has already been referred to as in early use. It is extensively employed for the cheaper fans on account of its durability as well as cheapness. The number of ribs vary from sixteen to thirty-six; the former may be regarded as the standard number.

The art of filigree is practised by the Chinese with the most consummate skill; it is occasionally in gold, but more often in silver gilt, the gilding being employed for the double purpose of preventing tarnishing and for decorative effect. Filigree work is often enriched by means of inlay, either enamel, or the turquoise feathers of the kingfisher, which latter, however, are merely gummed on the surface of the metal, and, as a consequence, are wanting in durability.

Enamelling has been practised in western Asia from a very early period, i.e. previous to the Christian era, and is believed to have reachedPg 56 China about the thirteenth century. There are two kinds, both accomplished by the process known as incrustation—cloisonné, in which the pattern is raised on the surface of the metal by soldering on to it metal or wire strips of copper, silver, or gold, thus forming a series of cells or cloisons; and champlevé, in which the cell-walls enclosing the pattern are either modelled and cast, or cut and hollowed out of the metal itself by means of graving tools: in both, the pattern is filled in with enamel.

Of the colours, there are two well-contrasted shades of blue—a dark tint made from cobalt and resembling the lapis-lazuli tone, and a light sky blue or turquoise; several greens made from copper, a dark coral red, a fine yellow, black, and white.

Chinese enamels are usually fired in the open courtyard, protected only by a primitive cover of iron network, the charcoal fire being regulated by a number of men standing round with large fans in their hands.42

Of the interesting fans in which the combined arts of filigree and enamel are employed we give a charming example from the Wyatt collection at South Kensington. In this, the effective colour scheme is that of the two blues and gold; the design being a conventional rendering of a Phœnix and foliage. In the colour plate given of the fan in the collection of Mr. M. Tomkinson, the leaf has a large cartouche in the centre representing a Chinese garden, with the hostess welcoming a visitor who has arrived on horseback, the servant bringing tea. On either side are small medallions of a sun-dial and a broken column, evidently introduced to the order of a European patron.

Chinese Fan with ivory miniatures Mr W. Burdett-Coutts. M.P.

Of the familiar class of fans having large compositions of figures of which the heads are of applied ivory, painted, the costumes of silk appliqué, the sticks of ivory elaborately carved, the example illustrated from the collection of Mr. Burdett-Coutts belonged to a mandarin of the first rank. A beautiful example was formerly in the possession of Pg 57 H.I.M. the Empress Eugénie,43 the stick of sandalwood. The brins of these fans, twelve in number, are occasionally varied, as follows:—Two of white ivory, pierced and carved; two of silver filigree and enamel; two of ivory, pierced and carved, coloured scarlet; two of tortoise-shell, carved and pierced; two of engraved white pearl; and two of gilt filigree enamel. The panaches of gilt filigree, with silver dragons in relief. An example occurs in the collection of Mr. Messel, another was in the possession of the late Mr. R. W. Edis.

Almost every important city or district in China has its characteristic fan—something distinctive in the make, colour, or ornamentation of the folding-fan, which is the fan par excellence in the Chinese mind. The convenience of this fan will at once be apparent—it occupies but little space, it may, when not in use, be stuck in the high boot of the full-dressed Chinaman, or in the ample folds of his dress.

These fans are made to suit every class of society from mandarin to peasant—to suit the changing seasons, in different sizes in proportion to the quantity of breeze required. The Son of Heaven, during the sultry summer months, employs fans of feathers, and during winter of silk. Fashion, however, lays down inexorable laws as to the time and period of their use, and to be seen with a fan too early or too late in the year is considered as mauvais ton. A poem by Ow-Yang Hisu informs us that ‘In the tenth moon the people of the capital turn to their warm fans.’

During the warm weather the fan forms part of the ceremony of tea-drinking; the host takes his fan as soon as tea is drunk, and, bowing to the company, says, ‘Thsing-chen’ (I invite you to fan yourselves); each guest immediately using his fan with great gravity and modesty. It is considered a breach of etiquette to be without a fan on such an occasion, or to refrain from its use.44

Pg 58

The Chinese have exhausted every species of ingenuity in the construction of fans of an outré character. The ‘broken fan,’ a curious trick, is to all intents and purposes a simple folding-fan, and opened from left to right presents no feature uncommon. On being opened to the reverse, the whole fan appears to fall to pieces, each bone, with the part attached, being separated from the other as though the connecting strings were broken: the principle is extremely simple, but the effect is surprising.

A fan which has been styled the ‘impracticable,’ is of circular form, the radiants of ivory, tortoise-shell, sandalwood, or metal filigree, perforated to such a degree as to render it useless as a means of disturbing the air. These are elaborately carved with figures, scroll-work, and other designs, or with birds, flowers, etc., in silver gilt filigree.

The ‘double-entente’ fan, opened in the ordinary manner, exhibits some harmless motif such as a flower, bird, or landscape; opened the reverse way, it discloses a ribald sketch that would entail severe penalties on its maker if discovered. The Peking variety shows two such pictures which are not seen when the fan is opened, but are disclosed by turning back the two end ribs of the fan.

The ‘dagger-fan’ is an invention of the Japanese, its importation into China being strictly forbidden. In its outward appearance it is sufficiently harmless, being apparently an ordinary lacquered folding-fan: in reality it is a sheath containing a deadly blade, short and sharp, resembling a small Malay kris (see illustration facing page 60). These dagger or stiletto fans are by no means confined to the East; in the British Museum is a print of an Italian stiletto concealed in a case made in imitation of a fan; the panaches of ivory, engraved with Italian arabesques.

Feather Fan, (Argus Pheasant) with embroidered case.
Chinese, early 19th Cent.
Victoria & Albert Museum.

Inscription fans are common, and exhibit an endless variety of devices. Some are literary tours de force, the most famous being that associated with the Emperor Chien Wên, of the Liang dynasty, A.D. 550, Pg 59 and said to be the composition of the monarch himself. This consists of a couplet of eight characters written in the eight corners of an octagon fan. On beginning at any one of the eight characters and reading round the way of the sun, it forms a couplet of perfect sense and rhythm.

A story is told of a favourite of the Emperor Ch’êng Ti of the Han dynasty, B.C. 32, whose name was Pan, and who for some time had been a confidante of his Majesty and the Queen of the Imperial Seraglio. Having persuaded herself that something more than an ordinary attachment of the hour existed between herself and the ‘Son of Heaven,’ finding her influence on the wane and being unable to conceal any longer her mortification, grief, and despair, she forwarded to the Emperor a circular screen-fan, upon which were inscribed the following lines expressing the contrast between the summer of her reciprocated love and the autumn of her desertion:—

‘O fair white silk, fresh from the weaver’s loom,
Clear as the frost, bright as the winter snow—
See, friendship fashions out of thee a fan:
Round as the round moon shines in heaven above;
At home, abroad, a close companion thou;
Stirring at every move the grateful gale,
And yet I fear, ah me! that autumn chills
Cooling the dying summer’s torrid rage,
Will see thee laid neglected on the shelf,
All thought of bygone days, bygone like them.’45

From this period, in China, a deserted wife has been called an autumn fan.

Pg 60



THE fan is regarded by the Japanese as an emblem of life, that widens and expands as the sticks radiate from the rivet or starting-point, and for this reason is selected for the new-year’s gift.46 It enters into almost every affair of the life of the people, from Emperor to peasant; friends greet each other with a wave of the fan; it is one of the gifts which the bride takes with her to her husband’s house; it is presented to the youth on the attainment of his majority;47 it is used by jugglers in feats of skill, by the umpires of wrestling matches as signal, by singers to modulate their voices; the condemned man marches to the scaffold fan in hand; the executioner does not relinquish his fan during the performance of his duty.

Netsuki. The Dai Tengu with feather uchiwa. Mr W. L. Behrens.
Dagger Fan. MrL. C. R. Messel. Camp Fan of Eagles Feathers, horn handle.
Mr L. C. R. Messel.

The early history of the fan in the country of Dai Nippon is substantially the same as in all the countries of the far and nearer East, and presents us with the same order of development, the earliest being formed of the primitive palm leaf, or of feathers. We have, in the story of ‘The Tengus’ a description of the Dai or Master Tengu, who wears a long Pg 61 grey beard down to his girdle, moustaches to his chin, and carries in his left hand as a sign of his rank a fan made of seven wide feathers pointed at the FEATHER-FAN
(From a Japanese painting. British Museum.)
tip: this he waves while singing a song, doubtless for the purpose of modulating his voice. The fan is identical in form with that of Chung-li Ch’uan, one of the eight Taoist immortals, referred to on page 47.

The rigid screens received from China at the close of the sixth century are referred to in the earlier part of this chapter, under China. Those in use in Japan present no material difference to the Chinese except in the details of their decorative significance. The larger screens were employed both in HAND-SCREEN, BAMBOO HANDLE
(From a Japanese painting. British Museum.)
civil and religious ceremonial, as war standards, and waved by servants in attendance upon royal and distinguished personages. These latter denoted the rank of the owner, the material being of silk or other fabric stretched over a wooden framework, painted or otherwise decorated, the forms extremely varied, but more usually those of the circle, oval, or pear. The pear-shaped hand-screen is seen in the hands of Hotei, the fat god of prosperity, and of Juro, the god of longevity, as an invariable accompaniment of those divinities. An example is given from a portrait of Lü T’ung-pin, a Taorist Rishi of the eighth century, by Go-gaku, nineteenth century, British Museum, 640. This has a red tassel or tail at the end of thePg 62 fan, a kind of combination of fan and fly-whip. A similar fan appears in a painting of the Caligraphic school, British Museum, 1617. This fan is of Chinese origin, and is constantly represented in the art of that country.

Fly-whips were also used. Of the representations of the sixteen Arhats (Buddhist divinities) given in the ‘Butsu zō dzu-i,’ three hold fly-whips (futsujin) in their hands. This instrument is also seen in the right hand of Vimalakîrrti, an Indian priest, in the painting on silk attributed to Shingetsu, Sesshiu school, fifteenth century, British Museum collection.

The fly-whip or chasse-mouche was also used by generals while on horseback, this being made of strips of tough paper suspended from a lacquered handle mounted with bronze.

A list of the more important varieties of Japanese fans, together with the dates of their introduction, as given by native authorities, will probably be of service.

Rigid fans or hand-screens, introduced from China, end of sixth century A.D.

Folding-fans (bamboo), invented by the Japanese, 668-671 A.D.

Gumbai Uchiwa, flat iron battle-fans, eleventh century.

Gun Sen, folding iron battle-fans, twelfth century.

Hi ogi, court-fans, eleventh century.

Mai ogi, dancing-fans, beginning of seventeenth century.

Rikiu ogi, tea-fans,fanbeginning ofseventeenthcen

Water-fans for kitchen use, eighteenth century.

The invention of the folding-fan has already been referred to. Its earliest form is the Kōmori (bat), so named from the supposition of the wing of this animal suggesting the principle of its construction. It is formed of fifteen bamboo sticks having a slight re-divergence springing from the handle end, so that when held closed in the hand as it is by courtiers while fulfilling the office of fan-bearing, it still appears open. It is stated Pg 63 that this spread-out form was adopted as court-fan on account of the misuse of the dagger-fan. The mount is of paper, which may be painted with any design in any colour except the unlucky green and light purple.

Suye hiro ogi. open & closed, decorated with crests on a gold ground. Mr W. Harding Smith

One of the many traditions of its invention may be given. It is attributed to a fan-maker of the Tenji period, 668-672, whose name is forgotten, living at Tamba near Kyoto. He was married to a shrew, and on a certain night a bat having found its way into the sleeping-room, the woman reviled her husband for not getting up to throw the vampire out. The animal coming in contact with the lamp, scorched its wings and fell to the floor. As the man picked it up, the opening of the creature’s wings suggested to him the principle of a folding-fan that might be carried in one’s sleeve.48

The Suye hiro ogi (wide end) has a similar divergence to the foregoing, with the addition of a slight curve or rounding of the outward sticks. It was used for the dances in the Nō drama; the number of sticks varying from fifteen to twenty-five. This also dates from the seventh century. The example illustrated is decorated with a series of crests of various families on a gold ground. In a drawing by Bun-chin, nineteenth century, British Museum, 891, of Performers in the ‘Nō’ Theatre, is represented a beautiful fan of a peacock with outspread tail and branches of bamboo, in gold, blue, and green. This fan is of the ordinary shape.

The Akomé ogi is the earlier court-fan, and dates from the invention of the folding-fan in the seventh century. It consists of thirty-eight blades of wood painted white, decorated with cherry, pine, plum, or chrysanthemum, on a ground of gold and silver powder, ‘among the mist.’ The fan is ornamented at the corners with an arrangement of artificial flowers in silk, with twelve long streamers of different coloured silks; the rivet is formed of either a bird or butterfly. This type of fan was in use by the court ladies until 1868.

Pg 64

By the courtesy of Mr. W. Crewdson we are enabled to reproduce one of these rare fans, bearing the following inscription:—

‘The decorations at the end of this Akomé-ogi show that it was used by a court lady. At Kioto, the Mikado’s Palace had Lemon trees at the right-hand side of the entrance and Cherry trees at the left; hence these ornaments composed of Cherry flowers and Pine knots.’

The description which Pierre Loti has given us of these fans is so charming that we cannot refrain from quoting it.

‘They wave with constant motion, or carry shut, their court-fans, on the pleated silk (?) of which are delicately painted dreamy fancies, of inexpressible charm, picturing the reflection in the water of cloud forms, of moons wintry pale, the flight of birds, or showers of peach blossom wafted by the wind in April mists. At each angle of the mount is tied an enormous tassel with shades of chenille, the ends of which trail along the ground, brushing the fine sand at each movement of the fan.’

The Hi-ogi court-fans are made of the Hi wood (Chamæcyparis obtusa), this being a soft light velvety wood of a beautiful golden brown, having the additional advantage of immunity from the attacks of wood-eating insects. The brins are twenty-five in number, fastened with a metal rivet, and threaded through with silk strings having very long ends, looped at the top corner of the outer ribs to form a rosette or other floral device. These fans were first introduced with the simple ornament of the owner’s crest; afterwards they were painted with great elaboration and delicacy.

At court ceremonial the Emperor and nobles often bear the Hi-ogi instead of the Shaku, which is a short staff or sceptre made of wood (yew) or ivory, generally held vertical in the right hand against the lower part of the chest, to give the body a more dignified bearing; when the fan is borne, it is generally carried closed, and held in the same manner as the Shaku.49

Before the age of fifteen a fan of common wood is carried, painted

Court Lady’s Fan. ‘Akome Ogi’. Mr. Wilson Crewdson.
War Fan. ‘Gun Sen.’ Mr W. Harding Smith.

Pg 65

on the outside, and ornamented with silk threads or strings in five colours; on his sixteenth birthday the Japanese youth attains his majority and receives a present of a fan.

The code regulating all the details of court ceremonial is absolute, and always observed; the use of ivory for the Shaku is confined to the highest ranks, or the most important ceremonial; no noble could use an ivory Shaku on any occasion. The various usages connected with the fan are subjected to similar restrictions.

Ladies carried in place of the Shaku the Hi-ogi.

A fan of special make and design is used by the Empress, and its use is forbidden to any subject. The blades are twenty-three in number, connected with a white silk ribbon. The decoration is confined to the chrysanthemum, pine, orange blossom, plum, or Camellia Japonica. The ribbon rosettes or loops, affixed to the top of the outer blades, are arranged in keeping with the particular flower which is represented on the fan; these have seven long streamers, four feet long, of different colours. The rivet also is of a particular kind—paper string.50

Chūkei are fans borne by priests and nobles; these have a redivergence at the ends, and date from the period of the introduction of the folding-fan; they are often painted with the most consummate skill, reflecting the best traditions of Japanese art. Many of these paintings exist; in most cases the leaves have been removed from the sticks and mounted as pictures.

Fabulous stories are extant recounting the marvellous accomplishment of the painters of the earlier epochs; amongst these is an account of Tadahira, who is said to have painted upon a fan a cuckoo which uttered its characteristic note whenever the fan was opened, and of Tsunenori, who drew a lion so life-like that other beasts fled from it.

Pg 66

The leading schools of Japanese painting are the Buddhist, Yamato-Tosa. Chinese, Sesshiu Kano, Matahei (popular), Korin, Shijō (naturalistic), and Ukiyo; each of these has well-marked characteristics preserved even to the present day.

The art of Japan was to a great extent founded upon, and is in certain directions a development of, that of the older civilisation of China. The earliest artist, therefore, recorded in Japanese annals, is a Chinese, Nanriu by name, of royal descent, who came to Japan about the end of the fifth century; but of this master, and of his immediate successors, there are no known examples.

It was in the succeeding century, upon the introduction of Buddhism into Japan, that we find the first establishment of a school of Japanese art, initiated by the Chinese and Coreans, and dedicated to the mural decoration of Buddhistic temples.

From the sixth to the ninth centuries, the history of Japanese painting is more or less clouded in doubt, and the first great artist who emerges from the general obscurity is Kanaoka (ninth century), although the few examples extant which are attributed to this painter are doubted by the best experts.

The Yamato-Tosa school, though the direct outcome of the study of Chinese methods, was essentially Japanese and naturalistic in character, and was founded by Kasuga Motomitsu in the latter part of the tenth century.

In the thirteenth century Tsunetaka, son of Kasuga Mitsunaga, assumed the name of Tosa and gave to the Yamato school the name it has since retained.

An important movement set in at the beginning of the fifteenth century, no less than a Chinese renaissance. For centuries Chinese influence had been waning, and the national style of Yamato and Tosa had held the field.

Hotei and the Children. by Kanō Shō-Yei, 1591. Mr Wilson Crewdson.

Pg 67

Sesshiu, the remarkable painter who founded the school bearing his name, was of the noble family of Ota, and was born in 1440. At the age of twelve or thirteen he was intended for the Church and placed under the instruction of the abbot of the temple of Hōfukuji. Sesshiu’s sympathies, however, were all in the direction of the fine arts, he neglected religious training, and a story is told of him—one of those extraordinary legends familiar in Chinese and Japanese annals—that upon one occasion, when bound to a pillar as punishment for some misconduct, he beguiled the weary hours of waiting by drawing rats upon the floor, using his toes for pencil and his tears for ink (!), the representation being so life-like as to alarm his janitor. Some versions of the story affirm that, upon the approach of the priest, the rats scampered away.

At the age of forty he visited China, the fountain-head, but was surprised to find that he had more to teach than to learn.

The fan of Hotei and the children, probably by Kanō Shō-yei, 1591, may be accepted as one of the finest examples of a painted fan of the Kanō school, the last of the three branches of the fifteenth-century revival of Chinese teaching. The school was founded by Masanobu, a painter of landscape, born c. 1423 and died 1520, its actual head, however, being Motonobu, his son, born 1476.

Hotei (Master Linen-sack), the god of prosperity, was a Chinese priest of the tenth century, famous for his fatness and his love of children. He could sleep in the snow, never washed himself, and had the power of infallibly predicting future events. The legends attached to his name are very similar to those narrated of many Taoist Rishis, but his claim to a position as Divinity appears to be due to the view enunciated in the Butsu-Zō dzu-i and other works, that he was an incarnation of Miroku Bosatsu Mâitrêya, the Messiah of the Buddhists, in which capacity his image has long been worshipped in Chinese temples. He is usually represented with a fan of the pear-shaped gourd type, and carries a clothPg 68 bag as a trap for little boys and girls, who are enticed inside to see the wonderful things it is supposed to contain, and then imprisoned until they can beg their way out. These ‘Precious Things’ include the Lucky Rain Coat, the Sacred Key, the Inexhaustible Purse, etc.51

Innumerable pictures of Hotei by Japanese artists are in existence, some dating from the fifteenth century.

The charmingly poetic view of the Tamagawa River, with the tea-plant in blossom, and flying cuckoo (Hoto-Togisu), is probably by Kanō San Raku, 1633. Both these fans are accompanied by a Japanese certificate of authenticity.

Autograph, motto, and inscription fans are referred to in another part of this work.52 The practice of inscribing sacred texts upon fans, obtained during the latter part of the eleventh and beginning of the twelfth century, the period ‘when the Buddhist religion was openly professed by the wealthy and warmly supported by the luxurious.’ Fragments of Buddhist sûtras written on fans and fan leaves exist at the temples at Yamato, Ôsaka, the Imperial Museum Tôkyô, and elsewhere. These are copied from the ‘Lotus of the True Law,’ or other Mahâyâna texts of a like nature. The fans, though differing somewhat in size, are all alike in paper, pigments, and style of painting, and evidently had a common origin; they are overlaid with gold-leaf and dusted with fine sand; upon this a thin wash of red or black pigment is applied. The sacred text is written in ink, over a painting, usually a figure-subject and bearing no reference to the text; the faces sketched in a curious convention known as Hikimé Kagihana (eye with a line, the nose with a key), in which the eye is represented by a straight line and the nose with a somewhat acute angle. This convention has been traced to Kasuga Takayoshi (beginning of the twelfth century), who painted a number of picture rolls illustrating the tales of the Genii.

The Tamagawa River. with teaplant & flying cuckoo. by Kanō San Raku, 1633. Mr Wilson Crewdson.

Japanese War Fans, Gumbai Uchiwa.
Mr L.C.R.Messel.      Mr. W Harding Smith.     Mr W.L.Behrens.

Pg 69

A fan leaf owned by the Temple of Saikyôji, Sakamoto, Omi, is illustrated in Selected Relics of Japanese Art, S. Tajima. A hi-ogi, with figures and pine-tree, in the Shinto Temple, Itsukushima-Jinsha Aki, is illustrated in the same work: this latter, doubtless, is a production of the Taira era, possibly a dedication to the temple from a scion of the Taira family, and painted by a daughter of Taira Kiyomori, the premier, 1167-1180, the writer of the ‘Lotus of the True Law.’

A similar combination of painting and writing obtained later, and was practised by Kôyetsu Hon-Ami, the predecessor of Kôrin Ogata, the reputed founder of the Korin school. This artist was a skilful writer of Chinese ideographs, in which art he was one of the ‘Three Pens’ of his time, being the founder of the Kôyetsu school of caligraphy.53

A fine example of Kôyetsu in the possession of Baron Ryûichi Kuki is reproduced in Mr. Tajima’s work. This is painted on a gold ground, and represents a rabbit in a flowered field. The fan is divided in two parts, the writing, which is by the artist, being on the gilt portion. Kôyetsu died at Kyoto in 1637, aged eighty-two.

The Ukiyoyé school included most of the makers of colour prints; two of the more famous of them, Masanobu Kiato, and Hokusai Katsushika, born in the same year, 1760, also painted fans. The former opened a shop at Ginza for the sale of smokers’ implements and medicine, and sold besides folding-fans and long panels upon which poems were written; both of these he ornamented with sketches; they became renowned far and wide, and from their sale he derived large profit.

A fan leaf by Hokusai, a masterly sketch of the head and shoulders of a ‘Beauty,’ is illustrated in Tajima’s work, as also several fans painted with courtesans, by an almost equally celebrated maker of colour prints, Kunisada.

Pg 70

Battle- or war-fans are of two kinds—the flat, rigid screen (uchiwa) which is the earliest, and the folding (ogi). In both, iron is the material of which it is mainly composed. The first named is sometimes formed completely of metal (iron and brass), is of considerable weight, and is used by officers both for direction, offence and defence, i.e. as baton, weapon, and shield.

This sometimes assumes a circular form, and is occasionally inlaid with the more precious metals; more often, however, it resembles the pear- or gourd-shaped screen. In the centre example illustrated, belonging to Mr. W. Harding Smith, the handle is of lacquered wood, the ornaments at its extremities, together with the rim of the fan blade, of bronze gilt; it bears an inscription on the obverse in Japanese, and on the reverse in Chinese, as follows:—

Japanese script.
‘Kisei ai shozaru jun-kwan
no hashi naki-ga gotoshi.’

‘Wrong and right (or odd and even) happen for ever,
impartially, like the revolving ball.’

This may, possibly, be rendered by the following:—

‘Defeat and victory succeed each other
by a turn of Fortune’s wheel.’

Chinese script.
‘Sono toki-koto kazé no gotoku
Sono shizuka-nuru koto hayashi no gotoshi.’

‘Its sharpness is as the wind, its softness
as the grave.’

The fan in the possession of Mr. W. L. Behrens is ornamented with two dragons in low relief, the motto ‘Tenka tai hei’ (international peace).

In the folding battle-fan, the stick is of wrought iron, the branchesPg 71 varying from ten to fourteen in number; in many military fans, the stick is of bamboo, painted black, the guards of iron, often arrow-shaped, and richly inlaid with silver.54

The decoration of the mount, of thick paper, consists of the sun, moon, or north star, usually in red, but also in gold, on a black or coloured ground. An unusual example, illustrated, has a gold sun on the one side, and a silver crescent moon and nine golden planets on the reverse; the ground being light, the guards of yellow bronze, ‘seutoku.’

The fine fan in the possession of Mr. L. C. R. Messel has on the obverse a golden sun with two flying birds, and on the reverse a silver sun with similar birds.

The sun motif is occasionally abandoned in favour of a figure-subject. M. Ph. Burty exhibited at Liverpool in 1877 a fan that belonged to a commander-in-chief; the leaf, of stout buff paper covered with silk tissue, is painted in india ink with the Seven Sages in the Forest of Bamboru. The brins are of plain whalebone, the panaches of oxidised iron, elaborately inlaid with scroll-work and crests in silver, the latter being of the powerful family of Nai-To. Another fan from the same collection belonged also to an officer of high rank. The brins are of bronze gilt, the panaches of polished iron, shaped like slips of bamboo, and chased with lions and flowers. On the inside of one panache is an inscription in inlaid gold, stating that the ironwork was made by U. Da-Kane-Signe; the leaf of glistening paper.

The most characteristic war-fans are, however, those having the simple red sun, with no superfluous decoration, the initial purpose of these instruments being that of a signal. They constantly appear in representations of battle-scenes, the general on his war-horse in the heat of battle brandishing in his right hand the fan, the symbol of his authority and command. In Pg 72Hokusai’s painting of ‘Tamétomo and the Demons’ (British Museum, No. 1747), the hero is grasping a huge bow in his right hand, and waving the folding battle-fan in his left.

In a print by Kuniyoshi (c. 1820) of the battle of Kawanakajima between Uyesugi Kenshin and Takeda Shingen (fifteenth century), a sword-cut is parried by the war-fan.

In a representation of the same battle by Yoshitora, a dismounted general is directing with a war-fan an attack by spearmen.

In the colour print by Hiroshige II. of Yoshitsune and Benkei, the war-fan also appears.

In the print by Shunsui of Atsumori and Kumagai, the hero, mounted, is plunging into the sea followed closely by his adversary Kumagai, also mounted, brandishing the war-fan as a signal and challenge.55 Two of the many stories or legends relating to the war-fan may be given.—The first refers to Nasu no Yoichi, an archer, whose clan took the fan as their crest,56 in allusion to his performance at the battle of Yashima in 1185. ‘When the Taira were driven from Kyoto by the Minamoto in 1182, the Empress Ni no Ama flew with the child-emperor Antoku, to the shrine of Itsukumisha, where thirty pink fans, bearing the design of the sun disc (Hi no Maru) were kept. The head-priest gave one to Antoku, saying that it contained in the red disc the Kami of the dead Emperor Takakura (1169-1180), and would cause arrows to recoil upon the enemy. The fan was accordingly attached to a mast of the Taira ship, on which a court lady is always depicted, and a challenge sent to Minamoto no Yoshitsuné, which was accepted by one of his archers, Nasu no Yoichi, who on horseback rode in the waves, and with Pg 73a well-directed arrow broke the rivet which held the leaves together, and thus shattered the fan.’

War Fans, Gun Sen. Mr. W. Harding Smith.
Mr. L. C. R. Messel.

The second tells of Araki, a Samurai whom Oda Nobunaga wished to kill, summoning him to audience, placing himself in such a position that the neck of the Samurai came in line with the sliding panels separating the audience chamber from the daimio’s room, intending to have the shoji slammed together as the man knelt, and thus decapitate him. Araki, suspecting the trap, promptly laid his iron fan in the groove, jamming the shutters, and thus saving himself.57

The Ha uchiwa (jin sen) is a camp-fan originally introduced from China in the seventh century and made of the feathers of the eagle, pheasant, or peacock, the handle usually lacquered red, black, or blue; the interesting example illustrated is formed of eagles’ feathers fixed in a horn handle.

Dancing-fans (Mai ogi) were introduced at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The brins are ten in number, the mount of thick paper, usually bearing a family crest. One of the earliest of these fans is to be seen in the painting of a dancer by Matabei (born 1578), in the Morrison collection (reproduced in Painting in the Far East, Laurence Binyon), the decoration of the mount consisting of a few scattered leaves.

The fan is the most usual accompaniment of the dance, and is generally seen in the hands of the Kagura dancers or of the performers with the Shishi mask. The fan dance, which is more nearly allied to jugglery than to the dance, is said to commemorate the performance of Uzume while alluring the Sun Goddess Amaterasu from the cavern, whither she once retired, plunging the world into temporary darkness by her absence. In this, the fan represents the leaves of the pine-tree, the performer balancing a number on his forehead, nose, mouth, hands and feet.

Tea-fans (Rikiu ogi) are for use at the tea ceremonies celebrated in honour of tea in every province on the first day of the first month, and comPg 74memorating the curing of the Emperor Murakami, 947-967 A.D., of a disease against which the physicians were powerless. The Emperor recovered after drinking an offering of tea made to the Goddess Kwanyin. The code, that formerly was of a gorgeous description, was modified later by Sen-no Rikiu, from whom the fan set apart as cake tray or saucer derives its name. The Rikiu fan is of the simplest possible construction, having only three sticks, the decoration also being of a simple character. It is used for handing round little cakes, and for no other purpose, fanning being strictly tabooed during such a dignified proceeding.58

The giant closing fans (Mita ogi) were used in the processions at Ise in honour of the Sun Goddess, the traditional originator of the Japanese dynasty. These were six or seven feet long, five men being appointed to carry one of this huge magnitude.

Water-fans (Mizu uchiwa), for kitchen use, date from the eighteenth century. These are of bamboo split into segments, covered with stout paper, and varnished or lightly lacquered so as to allow of the fan being dipped in water, thus securing extra coolness by evaporation. They are often decorated with figures and other subjects, the varnish subsequently applied being of a rich warm brown.

Roll-up fans (Maki uchiwa) are circular, the paper stiffened with thin strips of bamboo; the handle is of bamboo cut through with a slit to allow the circular fan, which is set on a pivot, to have free play. When open, the strips of the bamboo foundation are horizontal, thus securing rigidity; when not in use, the position of the strips may be reversed, and the disc rolled round the stick and tied.

Modern Japanese Fan, Ivory with gilt Lacquer, and Painted Fan signed Kunihisa. Mr. W. Tomkinson.

Of modern fans, those of ivory and tortoise-shell, carved or decorated with lacquer and inlay, are, for the most part, made for exportation, and are often of extreme beauty. The excellent example in the Victoria and Albert Museum is decorated with circular medallions in gold lacquer of Pg 75various shades, portions being carved in relief. It is finely inlaid in places with mother of pearl; signed by Taishin (a pupil of Zesshin), and dated 1884. An example, equally fine, is given from the collection of Mr. M. Tomkinson. This is decorated with a view of Fuji san, or Fuji-no-yama (peerless mountain); those born within its watch are considered most happy and fortunate beings.

‘Great Fujiyama, tow’ring to the sky!
A treasure art thou giv’n to mortal man,
A god-protector watching o’er Japan—
On thee for ever let me feast mine eye.’59

Of the cheaper hand-screens exported in large quantities to Europe, the simplest form is that of a dried palm leaf cut to the required shape, and bound round the edge, the stem forming the handle. The most common variety is made by splitting bamboo into thin strips that are spread out radially, fastened with thin cord, and covered with paper; these are decorated with designs displaying high qualities of arrangement and graphic skill, and are printed in that process of chromoxylography which, if not actually invented by the Japanese, has been carried by them to its highest point of excellence. A more elaborate hand-screen is also exported, the covering of silk, painted.

It will be readily understood, that the fan, entering as it does so closely into the daily life of the Japanese, should also form the subject of many games. Two characteristic instances may be cited. The ‘fan and cup’ game was particularly favoured by court nobles and ladies. A company met by the river, each member launching on the water a fan prepared with varnish or lacquer to ensure buoyancy and to prevent absorption of moisture. The game consisted in the composition of a verse or couplet of poetry during the time the fans were at the mercy of wind and wave, and before they regained terra-firma. Tea-cups were Pg 76also used, this last being illustrated in a Chinese makimono by Hwei-chi Ku-Yuen, British Museum, 276.

In the ogi otoshi or fan target game, a target called ‘cho,’ made somewhat in the form of a butterfly, is placed on a low table or pedestal on the floor. A fan is thrown from a given distance with a sudden and peculiar turn of the wrist, causing it to reverse itself in its passage through the air and strike the target with the rivet end. This game is played by two people facing the target at opposite ends. Bells are attached to the outer edge of the ‘cho,’ that sound when a successful hit has been accomplished.60

No notice, however brief, of the fans of Japan would be complete without some reference to the constant employment of the fan form as a decorative motif in Japanese design, one of the many evidences of the important place the fan holds in the affections of the people. Lacquered tea-trays assume the shape of the fan; inkstands take the form of a closed fan, the ink-well at the rivet end, the body of the fan forming a case for pens;61 while in diapered patterns, borders, and other decoration, both flat and in relief, the fan motif is constantly made use of. The interesting series of fan-shaped panels illustrative of Japanese history, by an unknown artist of the Yamato Tosa school, seventeenth century, British Museum, 305-324, are excellent instances of the use of the fan form in flat decoration, these being probably removed from an old screen. Three kakémonos in the collection of Mr. R. Phené Spiers are each finely painted with four full-sized fans, decorated with various lilies, drawn with that consummate skill and knowledge of plant form which would appear to be the peculiar heritage of the sons of Dai Nippon.

Three Chūkei. Mr L. C. R. Messel.
Palm Leaf Fan, used by the Great Chiefs, Fiji.
Hide Fan, Nigeria.
British Museum.

Pg 77



IN any survey of the industrial arts of the more primitive nations or peoples, three facts must be taken into consideration: 1st, climatic conditions; 2nd, the natural products indigenous to the country, and the outcome of its climatic conditions; 3rd, the degree of the intellectual development of its inhabitants.

The study of any particular branch of art presupposes some acquaintance with the history of the people among whom the art was practised. In considering, however, the art of primitive peoples, this matter of history and association plays but a minor part. Pictorial storiation is practically non-existent, individualism is lost in the collective racial influence. Moreover, the raw material of industry is precisely the kind readiest to hand, and generally demanding the minimum of skill in its working.

The fans of primitive or more or less uncivilised peoples may therefore be divided into three or four distinct types: 1st, the natural palm-leaf fans, common in most palm-producing countries; 2nd, the plaited rush-, grass-, or cane-fans, these being generally of the spatula, or half-halberd shape; 3rd, hide-fans, which usually take the form of round or oval screens; 4th, feather-fans, the character being necessarily determined by the kind of feathers employed.

Pg 78

It will readily be perceived that the earliest and simplest forms are those supplied ready to hand by Nature herself, viz. palm-leaf fans. These may be divided into two great classes. In the one, the leaf is set symmetrically on the stem; in the other, it is fixed laterally; in both instances the natural stem forms the handle. An excellent example of the first named is the large fan made from the leaf of the Pritchardia pacifica, used only by the great chiefs of the Fiji Islands. In this the leaf is cut to the shape of a reversed heart, bound round the border by a wisp, the ends of the fronds being arranged in tufts at intervals round the edge of the fan, forming an agreeable contrast to the simple radiating lines of the leaf.

In the second class of palm-fan, one side of the leaf is either cut away or bent laterally, the large leaves of the Palmyra or Talipot palms being used, cut short, the edges worked round with an applied border of thin strips of the leaf. This form appears to be ubiquitous; it is common, not only to primitive peoples, but also to the more civilised countries of the East. In India it appears both in the form of the smaller hand-fans and the larger pankhás, often richly decorated in colour, with inserted plaques of mica, or other ornamental device.

The art of plaiting with rush, straw, grass, cane, roots, and other flexible materials is one of the very earliest practised by man; we find it in constant use amongst savage tribes, who employ the process for mats, baskets, various coverings for the person, and other articles of personal and domestic use; both the technical skill and the æsthetic effect being often of a very high order. It will at once be perceived that this process is especially suited to the fan, which demands, above all things, lightness of construction; the plaited fan is therefore the most usual form in that vast group of islands known as Polynesia, as well as in most other countries situated within the equatorial belt.

Pg 79

The principle of plaiting is to commence from the stick or handle, which generally extends two-thirds of the distance along the blade or leaf of the fan. The stick is generally of wood, occasionally of ivory, and in some instances both substances are employed, the handle often elaborately carved.

The most usual shape is that of a spear cut crosswise and shortened: the ordinary principle of form-development is followed, from extreme attenuation lengthwise, to extreme width and shortness, the form of the lower border varying from an acute angle to a semicircle, the top varying from straight line to arched or curved.

The plaiting is of varying degrees of fineness according to the character of the leaf, straw, cane, or fibre employed. The patterning also varies, occasionally straw of a different colour (black or brown) being introduced.

This type of fan is found in the Marquesas Islands (South Pacific), the Hervey (Cook) Islands, Solomon Islands, Samoa, and the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands. A large plaited broad rush-fan appears in the Horniman Museum, made and presented by Queen Kapiolani of the Hawaiian Islands (illustrated p. 272); a similarly formed fan appears in the same collection from Tahiti.

In some examples from Samoa in the British Museum collection, thePg 80 shapes are slightly more varied, remarkably so in one instance in which the top border assumes a pointed or zigzag pattern. The kite shape also is found in various forms. (Page 81, Nos. 1, 2, 3.)


In the Hawaiian group a spatula shape appears, this also being developed to its utmost limit of breadth or width, the handles of plaited hair, in two colours, forming a pattern.

In British Guiana a curious fan (warri warri) is used, formed of strips of the Ita palm, having no stem, but simply a rolled edge, either single or double (crosswise), forming a finish to the leaf or blade, and affording a grip for the hand. The size of these fans varies from six to fifteen inches. A development of the above form is used as bellows by the natives of Ecuador and Peru; the double handle slightly longer, the forms varied to leaf and shield shape. In India, also, the two-handled bellows-fan is used, made of strips of the leaf-stalk of the Tucuma palm.

In the British Museum is a curious little fan having only a loop for handle, formed of plaited reed (Iturite) of two colours, brown and black. (Page 81, No. 8.)

In the hide-fans common on the western border of Africa, the form approaches that of a circular screen, set on a wooden handle. In these the ornamentation is either formed of the natural markings of the hide, or an ‘applique’ of leather, painted white, and cut to various perforated patterns, so as to show a bright vermilion feather stuff in the perforations; the three colours, the brown or black of the hide, the [Pg 81]
Pg 82
white leather, and the vermilion perforations forming a very effective contrast. Examples from Nigeria appear in the British Museum collection. A smaller fan of goatskin is in the Horniman Museum. These hide-fans form part of the fantastic death-dance costumes of Old Calabar.

1, 2, 3, 11, 12. SAMOA.    4, 5. BRITISH GUIANA.

Feathers, although constantly employed as ornaments to the person, are less commonly used for fans than might generally be supposed, especially in countries where bird life is abundant.

Amongst the Blackfoot nation of North American Indians, eagles’ feathers were used as a standard of valour at the advent of the white man, and the capture of eagles was regarded as a sacred ceremony. In the British Museum is a fan of these eagles’ feathers, with a handle covered with coarse linen of a printed pattern; to the tip of each feather is affixed a small pink fluffy feather, thus forming a pink border to the top of the fan, the border being repeated at the top of the handle. This was procured from ‘Little Ears,’ a Blood Indian. A similar fan, minus the handle, appears in the same collection; in this instance the tips of the feathers are ornamented with little tails made of hair, varied at the lower ends by white fur. In consequence of a dream that appeared to a Blood chief named Bears’ Lodge, a dance was instituted in which these fans were waved, and whistles made of eagles’ bones were carried and used. (Illustrated opposite.)

Ceremonial fans were employed by the Indians of the Great West; we have an account of the visit of a Taensas chief on the banks of the Lower Mississippi to Le Sieur de La Salle in 1682: ‘The Chief condescended to visit La Salle at his camp; a favour which he would by no means have granted, had the visitors been Indians. A master of ceremonies and six attendants preceded him, to clear the path and prepare the place of meeting. When all was ready, he was seen advancing clothed in a white robe, and preceded by two men bearing white fans, while a third displayed a disc of burnished copper, doubtless to represent Pg 83the Sun, his ancestor, or, as others will have it, his elder brother.’62 It is safe to assume that these fans were of feathers, and the incident is an evidence that the use of the fan in high ceremonial was universal, and common to both East and West.

Two small Palm Fans. West Africa.
Fly Whisks, Tahiti.
Cockade Fan, with inscription.
Fan of Eagles Feathers, North American Indian.

There still remains the cockade form of fan, found amongst the West African tribes; an example appearing in the British Museum collection, of paper, with primitive painted ornaments in black, red, and yellow, alternated with inscription; the fan measuring some twenty inches in diameter.

A most interesting example of hide appears in the Horniman Museum, taken from the king’s palace at Benin in 1897. This, doubtless, from its size and the cumbrous nature of its material, as well as the foregoing example, was waved by the attendants of some highly placed personage, probably the king.

The square or oblong flag-fan is made by the natives of the Niger settlements of West Africa. An example in the Victoria and Albert Museum is of plaited grass with strips of the natural shades of brown and yellow, and others stained red and black; the handle is covered with reddish-brown leather, fringed along the side of the leaf, the fan edged with the same material.

The appearance of similar decorative motifs in countries widely separate opens up an interesting field of speculation. Some explanation, however, of the fact of the cockade (though in itself, together with the flag form, a simple device) appearing among the West African tribes, may be found in the fact that the natives of the interior of West Africa were Pg 84long exposed to the influence of the Mohammedan culture of the Western Sudan; the races were to some extent intermingled, and a close commercial relationship has been maintained during a long period.

Fly-whisks are obviously articles of necessity throughout the countries of the Torrid Zone.63 These are formed either of feathers, of vegetable fibre, of the hair of the larger animals, of hempen string, or other materials.

These instruments occasionally acquire a sacred significance; Blondel affirms that they were common in Peru and Mexico before the Spanish conquest, and, together with the fan, were used also as a symbol of authority, the handles being adorned with the precious stone ‘theoatz-ehuaquetzalli.’

A species of fly-whisk, formed of dried grass, is used as a war fetish by the natives of the Gold Coast; in some instances an iron bell is attached, carried and rung by the magician in front of the warriors. Sticks and also fan handles bound with feathers are used as propitiatory offerings to the gods by the natives of the South-Eastern Pacific. (Page 81, Nos. 9, 10.)

In the Hawaiian Islands feather wands (Kahili) are carried as a symbol of rank; these appear to have been originally fly-whisks, and are formed of the tail feathers of various birds. Six examples are included in the British Museum collection, the handles formed of ivory alternated with horn, the extremity of the handle being formed of the bone of an enemy.

A long fly-whisk from Hawaii appears in the same collection, formed of the neck feathers of the cock, of varying colours, white, orange, and brown, with black tip; the handle of wood, bound round with black and buff cane.

Pg 85

The most primitive form of fly-whisk is that from the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, made of grass fibre, bound to a stick, and resembling a rough besom.

Vegetable fibre of various kinds would appear, indeed, to be the material most commonly employed for these articles, being, doubtless, the readiest substance to hand. A remarkable series of fly-whisks from Tahiti, formed of fibre, were presented to the British Museum by Sir W. C. Trevelyan, Bart.; in these, the handles (of wood) are finely plaited halfway with fibre of two colours, the rest of the handle of a spiral form, the head carved to a fantastic shape.

An interesting fly-whisk from the Tonga Islands is formed of cocoa-nut fibre, finely plaited at its junction with the wooden handle; small turquoise, black, and white beads, are affixed to the plaited portion, these forming an extremely effective contrast to the rich red brown of the fibre. In Samoa, enormous fly-whisks are formed of this material, sometimes affixed to a handle of wood, and occasionally bound round with the same material to form the handle. (Page 81, Nos. 11, 12.)

A curious fly-whisk from Tahiti is of twisted fibre, the handle being formed of two birds’ wing-bones bound together, with a portion of plaited fibre in two colours forming the extremity of the stem at its junction with the whisk.

The Matabeles employ fly-whisks of horse-hair, both white and black. An example of white horse-hair bound with brass, fixed in a handle of cane, and also one of black hair, with the handle formed of plaited brass wire, are to be seen in the British Museum.

Pg 86

A similar fly-whisk of black horse-hair is in the same collection; the handle of steel wire, bound round a double leather thong, the extremity forming a loop ornamented by blue glass beads. These are used by the elders (Elmoru) of the East African Protectorate.

Black horse-hair forms the material of fly-whisks used by the natives of the Upper Nile. In the example illustrated the hair is set in an open-shaped piece of leather, with a long bone handle.

In Abyssinia, also, fly-whisks formed of the tails of the smaller animals are employed. An example occurs in the India Museum, the hair dyed red and yellow, the handle of silver parcel-gilt.

Probably the most curious of all fans and fan-like objects in use among primitive peoples is the so-called Ghost Fan of South Celebes (Malay Archipelago). This mysterious object consists of a triangular arrangement at the end of a stick, of fine spun red stuff embellished with a bordering of gold tinsel, together with spangles or hanging ornaments along its lower edge. Around the stick is tightly twisted a piece of paper, probably containing an incantation. An example occurs in the Ethnological Museum, Berlin, referred to and illustrated in Der Fächer, Georg Buss. (See p. 106.)

The Tournament, by E. Moreau. Ivory brisé, painted & gilt. Victoria & Albert Museum.

Pg 87



(From the Book of Kells.)
THE Christian Church was quick to perceive the utility of the fan as an instrument of religious ceremonial, imparting to this object a mysterious importance, a sacerdotal distinction, preserving and shielding it from common use; it has even been claimed that this appropriation was instituted by the Apostles themselves, Bishop Suarez attempting to substantiate this by an appeal to an apocryphal liturgy attributed to St. James.

The earliest recognised notice, however, of the flabellum as a liturgical ornament is in the Apostolical Constitutions, which direct that after the oblation, before and during the prayer of consecration, two deacons are to stand, one on either side of the altar, holding a fan made of thin membrane (parchment), or of peacocks’ feathers, or of fine linen, and quietly drive away the flies and other small insects, that they may not stick against the vessels; this use of the flabellum being derived, not from the ritual of the synagogue of the Jews, but from that of the Pagan temples. Butler (Ancient Coptic Churches of Egypt) quotes a similar rubric from the liturgy of St. Clement. The same author refers also to flabella waved by the deacons in the Syrian Jacobite, and probably also in the Coptic, rite for the ordination of a priest at laying on of hands—they appeared at solemnPg 88 festivals and at regular celebrations of mass.64 On Good Friday, also, they were used at the consecrations of Chrism—seven deacons holding flabella, walking on either side of the holy oil when carried in procession.

Many evidences of its early adoption by the Latin Church are extant. Moschus (Prat. Spirituale, § 150) cites an occurrence showing its employment SILVER PROCESSIONAL FLABELLUM
(From Butler.)
in the time of Pope Agapetus, A.D. 535, in which a deacon, who had falsely accused his bishop, was removed from the altar when he was holding the fan in the presence of the Pope, because he hindered the descent of the Holy Spirit on the gifts. This same author (Prat. Spirituale, § 196), in narrating how some shepherd boys near Apamea were imitating the celebration of the Eucharist in childish sport, is careful to mention that two of the children stood on either side of the celebrant, vibrating their handkerchiefs like fans,65 thus showing that the use of the flabellum was general even at this early period. In a letter of St. Hildebert, Archbishop of Tours, c. 1098, accompanying the present of a flabellum made to a friend, its use and mystic import are explained—the flies, representing the temptations of the devil, are to be driven away by the Catholic faith.

Gradually the waving of the flabellum acquired a deeper symbolic meaning—it was held to signify the wafting of divine influence upon the ceremony, the movements to and fro symbolising the quivering of the wings of the Seraphim; hence we find reprePg 89sentatives of the Seraphim playing an important part in its ornamentation. In the Book of Kells we have a representation of the four evangelists in which the Seraphic symbol of St. Matthew is figured by the crossed flabella, each having a pair of bells with triple hammers; the remaining three evangelists being represented by the usual symbols of the Lion in the centre, and the Bull and Eagle at the lower corners.

Germanus (Neale, Eastern Church, p. 396) goes even further, and holds that the vibration of the flabellum typifies the tremor and astonishment of the angels at our Lord’s Passion.

In a Byzantine fresco at Nekrési (Caucasus), of a date uncertain but somewhat late, an open sanctuary is represented with two angelic winged deacons waving seraphic flabella around the head of the second person of the Trinity.

(From Butler.)
We have, then, in these flabella, two distinct types—the one composed of some yielding material such as vellum or peacocks’ feathers, the handles usually of ivory; the other rigid, and formed of metal, either silver or silver gilt, this latter being essentially a processional fan; both being used in ceremonial processions and celebrations of the mass.

Metal flabella also divide themselves into two classes—the large-handled processional fan, and the short hand-fan; an example of the latter is given from Butler, and consists of a circular disc of metal decorated with two rude figures of the Seraphim interspersed with Romanesque ornament.

Actual specimens of ancient flabella are almost non-existent, although a few have been preserved on the Continent; one of the most famous being that of the abbey church of Tournus, on the Saône, south of Chalon, at present in the Carrand collection, Museo Nazionale, Florence.Pg 90 This remarkable example, which may be taken as a characteristic type, is formed of a strip of vellum folded à la cocarde, painted on both sides with figures of St. Philibert and other saints divided by conventional trees. The outer borders consist of a continuous scroll of Romanesque ornament interspersed with figures of animals. Latin hexameters and pentameters are inscribed on the three concentric borders of the fan, as follows:—




The handle is formed of four cylinders of white bone, two being ornamented with semi-naturalistic vine foliage running spirally round the stem, the two lower fluted. These cylinders are united by nodes or pommels, tinted green; on the middle node the inscription MICHEL · M ·, on the upper IOHEL ME SCAE FECIT IN HONORE MARIAE. The stem is surmounted by a capital with four figures of saints, whose names appear on the node immediately beneath: S · MARIA · S · AGN · S · FILIB · S · PET. On the capital rests the guard or box which receives the flabellum when closed; the four sides are of elaborately carved white bone with green-tinted borders; the front and back panels, betraying evidence of a different hand, Pg 91are now in the Musée de Cluny, Paris, and consist of arabesques of foliage with figures, birds, animals, etc., modelled with great spirit. The two lateral panels or faces form the richest portion of the fan, and are carved with six subjects from the Eclogues of Virgil. Three seated senators with other figures, two shepherds with oxen; three shepherds, two of whom are playing pipes, some sheep in the foreground; a seated shepherd blowing a horn; another shepherd with oxen and goats; a shepherd and satyr with dog and goats; and a seated shepherd with two oxen.

Photo by Alinari.
The Flabellum of Tournus. IX. cent.
Museo Nazionale, Florence.
Photo by Alinari.
The Flabellum of Tournus, details. Museo Nazionale, Florence.

The modelling is somewhat rude and archaic, but extremely rich in decorative effect. One edge of the fan is fixed in the box, the other is attached to one of the lateral panels, which, in order to open the fan, is drawn over and attached to the reversed side by means of a cord.

Both sides are figured in colours in Du Sommerard’s work Les Arts du Moyen Age.

Of other flabella which exist, one is preserved in the Dominican Monastery of Prouille, in the diocese of Toulouse; another, with a handle of silver, was formerly at St. Victor, near Marseilles.

In the British Museum is a portion of an ivory handle of a flabellum, French, of the twelfth century, about twelve inches in length, finely carved with figures of the twelve Apostles and emblems of the Evangelists. In the Victoria and Albert Museum is a similar fragment, but smaller, carved with compartments of animals, mythical beasts, monsters, etc.; these probably formed the two divisions of one single flabellum. These handles were sometimes square-shaped, as in the instance of the fragment in the Salting collection at present in the Victoria and Albert Museum. This is also French, of the fourteenth century, and is carved on each of its sides with figures of saints in niches, with crocketed arches.

A portion of the cylindrical stem of a flabellum or aspergillum, probably French of the twelfth century, is in the British Museum. This represents the occupations of the twelve months of the year in three bands,Pg 92 as follows: January, a two-headed Janus looking in opposite directions; February, a figure seated before a fire; March, cutting trees with a hatchet; April, gathering blossoms; May, an equestrian figure with hawk; June, a mower with sickle and hooked stick; July, a mower with scythe; August, a reaper with sickle; September, thrashing wheat; October, sowing corn; November, killing a pig; December, pouring wine into a cask.

The figures are separated from each other by trees, and the three bands by rings ornamented with foliage and zigzag patterns with semi-rosettes, and at top and bottom are rings with half-defaced inscriptions.

There is also in the same collection a capital of morse ivory for the handle of a flabellum, North German, twelfth century.

These instruments figure repeatedly in inventories of church and abbey property. Butler quotes from one at St. Riquier, near Abbeville, in 831, ‘a silver fan for chasing flies from the sacrifice.’ At Amiens, in 1250, there existed a fan for a similar purpose, ‘flabellum factum de serico et auro ad repellendas muscas et immunda.’ In 1363 La Sainte Chapelle possessed ‘duo flabella vulgariter nuncupata muscalia, ornata perlis’; in 1376, ‘ij flabella, Gallice esmouchoirs, ornata de perlis.’

In the sacrist rolls of Ely, ‘Item, j flabello empt. ad Aurifabrum, 7d. Item, in pari flabellorum pro le Colpeyt empt. 6d.’

A Salisbury inventory mentions two fans of vellum or other material.66 The Chapel of St. Faith in the crypt of old St. Paul’s possessed, in 1298, a muscatorium or fly-whip of peacocks’ feathers.67 There is record of a gift to York Minster, between the years 1393 and 1413, of a silver-gilt handle for a flabellum.68 In 1346, Hamo, Bishop of Rochester, presented to the cathedral ‘unum flabellum de serico cum virga eburnea.’69 In the inventory of the Chapel of West Exeter, Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, ‘i. muscifugium Pg 93de pecock.’70 In the enumeration of the valuable effects of the deceased Queen Isabella, daughter of Philippe le Bel, and consort of Edward II., the following entry appears: ‘De Capella, Duo flagella pro muscis fugandis.’71

Portion of Ivory Handle of a Flabellum, French, 12th Cent.
Lower portion of the same handle.
Ivory Fan Handle, Italian, 16th Cent.
Capital or node of a Flabellum.
Portion of handle of a Flabellum, 14th Cent.
Victoria & Albert Museum.
British Museum.
Salting Coll.n.
Victoria & Albert Museum.
Salting Coll.n.

In England the flabellum was in use even in remote parishes. In the churchwarden’s accounts at Walderswick, Suffolk, in 1493, is an entry of IVd. for ‘a bessume of pekoks fethers.’

Although the flabellum is very rarely represented in illuminated MSS., in the Book of Kells we find miniatures of angels waving these instruments; in the Gospel of Trèves (eighth century) is a conjoined evangelistic, symbolic figure holding a small flabellum in one hand and a eucharistic lance in the other. In a Hiberno-Saxon MS. of the eighth century a figure of St. Matthew is seen holding in his hand a flabellum. In the public library at Rouen are two representations of the use of this instrument; in the one, a thirteenth-century missal, formerly belonging to the abbey of Jumièges, the fan is held by the deacon in front of the altar at which the priest FROM A GREEK PSALTER.
(British Museum.)
officiates; in the other, it is waved over the head of the priest as he elevates the wafer: this in a pontifical of the church of Rheims, thirteenth century.

A psalter in Greek, British Museum, additional MSS. 19,352, gives a miniature of an angel waving a large flabellum over the head of David who is asleep; another instance occurs in a thirteenth-century Service-Book in the Barberini Library, given by Paciandi.72

Representations in printed books are still more rare. In Barclay’s Ship of Fools of the World, 1509, Pg 94we find, however, a woodcut illustration of a spectacled bibliophile wearing cap and bells, seated among his books, holding in his hand a flabellum of feathers, saying:

‘Attamen in magno per me servantur honore:
Pulueris et cariem, plumatis tergo flabellis.’73

the word flabellis being here applied to the ordinary hand-brush or duster.

By the end of the sixteenth century the flabellum had fallen into complete disuse, its original purpose having been FROM GOAR long abandoned or forgotten, although as late as 1688 Randle Holmes, Academy of Armory, refers to ‘the flap or fann to drive away flies from the chalice.’ Its sole reminiscence in the west is in the large flabella of peacocks’ feathers carried at solemn festivals in procession before the Pope. In the Greek Church, the fan is still delivered to the deacon at ordination as the symbol of his sacred office.

From the period of the final break up of the Roman Empire to that of the Crusades the general use of the fan was discontinued in Europe, and was probably only adopted by highly placed personages; during these early periods, however, it was still the religious fly-flap or flabellum, d’émouchoir, and Blondel infers from the circumstance, of Étienne Boileau not referring to it in his Livre des Mestiers (1200), that even at this time it no longer served any domestic purpose except in very rare instances.

The earliest English reference to the fan appears to be the following:—

‘In the thirtieth year of King Edward I., precept was given to Nicholas

Pg 95

Pycot, Chamberlain, of the Guildhall of London that he should cause to be sold all pledges for any debt whatsoever then in his custody.

‘In an inventory of pledges sold for arrears on the King’s Tallage, 31 Edward I., 1303. One fan (value not stated) taken from Henry Gyleberd of the ward of Basseshawe for 2s. 8d., which he owes of arrears of the fifteenth.’74

The oldest existing Christian fan, and the most famous of the few fans of which we have any record during the Middle Ages, is that which has become identified with Theodolinda, Queen of the Lombards, the saintly princess, who possessed a nail of the holy cross which was ultimately used as a setting to the Iron Crown of the kings of Lombardy. This fan is preserved as a sacred relic in the Cathedral of Monza near Milan. Superstition has invested it with magical powers. Pilgrimages are made to Monza by village maidens, often from a long distance, on a certain day of the year, as the act of touching it is believed to facilitate and promote their marriage projects. It is of the cockade shape, formed of vellum, of the beautiful purple hue we find in contemporary manuscripts; it is decorated with an alternating diaper of Romanesque ornament in gold and silver, and round its outer border on either side is the following inscription in Latin hexameters, which is given by Mr. W. Burges, Archæological Journal, vol. xiv., on the one side:

  ‘Ut sis conspectu praeclara et cara venusta,
Hac rogo defendens solem requiesce sub umbra,
Has soror obtutu depictas arte figuras
Praelegeris flavido ut decoreris casta colore.’

and on the reverse, now much obliterated:

‘Pulchrior ut facie dulcis videaris amica
... fervores solis ...
Me retinere manu Ulfeda (?) poscente memento
... splendoris ...’

Pg 96

Mr. Burges has pointed out that the form of the letters of the inscription, which are Roman with slight Rustic variations, as also the purple dye, are sufficiently similar to contemporary manuscripts of St. Augustine of the end of the sixth century.


The case which accompanies the fan is constructed on the same principle as the handle of the Tournus flabellum, although less elongated. It is of wood, covered with silver, the wooden part probably modern, made to the original shape, with the old silver used again. The length of the case with handle is 15-1/2 inches, the diameter of the leaf 10 inches.

Fan of Queen Theodolinda, VI. cent. Cathedral of Monza.

Pg 97

The side flap was originally fastened to the fan, and drawn round until it formed a complete circle, as in the instance of the Tournus flabellum.

With respect to the identity of the original owner of this fan, although the claim which has been made for its association with Queen Theodolinda cannot be substantiated, its identification with any well-defined personage is equally difficult. Who was Ulfeda? Mr. Burges states with reference to this name that it is by no means the most legible part of the inscription—that he has been able to discover no one so named who lived during this period.

M. de Linas points out that the name Ulféda is a variant of the Saxon Elpheid, which the marvellous cloisonné fibula, exhumed, as is said, from a Carlovingian sepulchre at Wittislingen (Bavaria), gives under the softened form of Ufeila.

This Monza fan is not mentioned in an inventory of the treasury in 1275; in that of 1353 the following, however, occurs:

‘Item, fabella, seu orata una argenti facta ad modum unius maze cum manica ligni ligata in argento.’

M. de Linas infers from the fact of the extremity of the handles being provided with a ring, that it was not a liturgic fan, and certainly this circumstance, together with the smallness of its size, would appear to be a sufficient evidence of its secular use; in any event, and whatever its original use, this fan, together with that of Tournus, must be accounted among the most precious relics preserved to us from that dim and dark, but extremely fascinating period.

The rigid flag-fan, which appears to have been in intermittent use in Europe from the early centuries of our era, consists of an oblong parallelogram with a handle fitted to one of its longer sides. These were made either of plaited straw of various colours, of linen painted andPg 98 embroidered, of parchment or vellum, or of silk, woven or embroidered, often with lozenge-shaped diapering.

The earliest examples remaining to us are Coptic or Saracenic. M. Robert Forrer in his Reallexikon figures two which were obtained from the cemetery of Akhmîn, the Greek Panopolis, presumably belonging to the fourth-sixth century. Of these, one is finely plaited of brown, red, and black straw, with a representation of four hearts encircling a cross, the other of a reticulated diapered pattern with a border of linen. A similar flag-fan of plaited straw appears in the Berlin Museum: this example, also, is probably Coptic.

M. Charles de Linas, quoting from the life of St. Fulgentius, sixth century, affirms that the Bishop of Ruspa, whilst he was a monk and even an abbot, occupied his leisure hours in copying Holy Writ or in plaiting ‘fly-flaps’ of palm leaves. This same author75 figures a flag-fan from an engraved glass vase, exhumed from the catacombs, and now preserved in the library of the Vatican, representing the Virgin Mother seated with the infant Saviour on her lap, a deacon behind agitating a rectangular flabellum fixed in a lateral handle. The zigzag ornamentation indicates that this, also, was formed of plaited straw.

In the Observances of the Augustinian Priory at Barnwell, Cambridge, ‘The Fraterer ought to provide mats and rushes to strew the Frater and the alleys of the Cloister at the Frater door, and frequently to renew them; in summer to throw flowers, mint, and fennel into the air to make a sweet odour, and to provide fans.’ ‘Muscatoria in estate providere.’76

Coptic Fans, Akhmîn. Ethnological Museum. Berlin.

The most remarkable example, however, of this banner form is on a diptich of ivory offered by Charles the Bald to the abbey of Saint-Pg 99Corneille de Compiègne, and at present in the Cabinet de Médailles at Paris. On the inferior compartment of the diptich is a eunuch (?) holding FROM AN IVORY DIPTICH.
(Cabinet de Médailles, Paris.)
with both hands a flabellum apparently of metal, the handle long, thick at the end, and engraved with lines representing masonry; the top in the form of a turret, from which hangs a cord. The leaf, in all probability embroidered, has a plain broad border enclosing a laurel wreath.

The banner form of fan became fashionable with the Venetian women of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. These were of two kinds: the one, of a more ornate character, was used by matrons; the other, abanico di novia, of a delicate whiteness, used only by engaged maidens or the newly married. An example of the latter occurs in the portrait of the painter’s daughter Lavinia, by Titian, in the Dresden Gallery, probably painted in 1555. Titian painted this favourite daughter some eighteen years later; in this portrait she carries a feather-fan, the sign of Venetian nobility, Titian having been, in the interval, created a Count Palatine by the Emperor Charles V.

Authentic examples of these flag-fans are exceedingly rare. A richly embroidered Venetian fan of the sixteenth century is in the collection of the Grand Duke Frederick of Baden; another, also Italian, has a large oval medallion with ornaments of silver and brown, and is in the collection of Mr. G. J. Rosenberg of Karlsruhe; a third, abanico di novia, of white vellum enriched with Venetian lace of the sixteenth century, is referred to by Blondel as being in the possession of Madame Achille Jubinal of Paris.

These fans were probably introduced into the western countries ofPg 100 Europe by the returning Crusaders. They never, apparently, obtained any great vogue except in Italy; they continued, however, in intermittent use until the close of the sixteenth century, when, together with feather, tuft, and cockade fans, they gradually gave place to the modern folding-fan which had by this time made its appearance in Portugal from the Far East.

From the fourteenth century onwards, the history of the fan becomes more clear, and Blondel quotes a number of French inventories in which the fan figures—that of the Comptesse Mahaut d’Artois (1316), an émouchoir with silver handle; of Queen Clémence (1328), an émouchoir of silk brocade; and also in the will or testament of Queen Johanne of Évreux (1372), a jewelled émouchoir costing five golden francs.77

The cockade form, à la cocarde, has been in use during all periods subsequent to its first introduction from the East in the early centuries of our era. We have already referred at some length to the cockade flabella at Tournus and Monza. In an inventory of Charles V. of France, 1380, we read of ‘un esmouchouer rond, qui se ploye, en yvoire, aux armes de France et de Navarre, à un manche d’ybenus.’78

During the fourteenth century, the long-handled flabellum was also in use, waved by attendants as at Thebes and Rome. In the inventory above quoted (Charles V.) occurs—‘Trois bannières, ou esmouchoers, de cuir ouvré, dont les deux ont les manches d’argent dorez.’ ‘Deux bannières de France, pour esmoucher le Roy quand il est à Table, semées de fleurs de lys brodées de perles.’79

The feather-fan, also, was in use during this reign, as we learn from a curious entry in a letter of the Queen—alluding to a criminal prosecution against some manufacturer of spurious coin—‘Le suppliant trouva Pg 101d’aventure un esventour de plumes, duquel il esceuta le feu—où l’on faisoit la ditte fausse monnoye.’80

The feather and tuft fans in use from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries and later were formed of the plumes of the peacock, the ostrich, and the paroquet, dyed various colours: the number of the feathers varied from three to twenty or more, and were arranged so as to imbricate the plumes in the gradation of their natural growth. These were set in handles of carved ivory and the more precious metals, generally silver, and were often richly jewelled, and suspended from the girdle by a slender chain. Of their cost we have a hint in Marston’s satires:

‘How can she keepe a lazie serving-man
And buy a hoode and silver-handled fan
With fortie pound?’

Silver was probably the material of the handle of Mistress Bridget’s fan in the theft of which Falstaff and his Ancient were implicated.

Falstaff.And when Mistress Bridget
Lost the handle of her fan, I took’t upon
Mine honour thou hadst it not.
Pistol.Didst thou not share? hadst thou not fifteen pence?

References to the silver-handled fan occur commonly in old plays:

‘She hath a fan with a short silver handle,
About the length of a barber’s syringe.’
The Floire, 1610.

‘All your plate, Vasco, is the silver handle of
Your old prisoner’s fan.’
Love and Honour, Sir W. Davenant, 1649.

‘Another he
Her silver handled fan would gladly be.’
In Marston, Scourge of Villainie, lib. III. sat. 8.

The above references are to fans of the ordinary sort; the cost of the more precious fans of history was considerable. Brantôme (c. 1590) refers Pg 102to the fan of Queen Eleanor with its mirror all ornamented with precious stones of great value, and also to the new-year’s gift of Queen Margaret to Queen Louise of Lorraine—a jewelled fan of mother of pearl of such beauty and richness that it was valued at more than fifteen hundred crowns,81 a sum equal to a thousand pounds of our present money.

The employment of the fan as fire-screen is indicated by the new-year’s gift to Queen Mary of England in 1556, when she received ‘seven fannes to kepe the heate of the fyer, of strawe, the one of white silke.’

Queen Elizabeth’s partiality for fans is historic, and it is upon record that she regarded a fan as a suitable gift for a queen.

Leicester’s new-year’s gift in 1574 is recorded: ‘A fan of white feathers set in a handle of gold, garnished on one side with two very fair emeralds, and fully garnished with diamonds and rubies; the other side garnished with rubies and diamonds, and on each side a white bear [his cognisance] and two pearls hanging, a lion ramping with a white muzzled bear at his foot.’

Among the new-year’s gifts, 1588-9:—

‘By the Countess of Bath, a fanne of Swanne downe, with a maze of gilene Velvet, ymbrodered with seed pearles and a very small chayne of silver gilte, and in the middest a border on both sides of seed pearles, sparks of rubyes and emerods, and thereon a monster of gold, the head and breast mother of pearles.

‘By a Gentleman unknown, a fanne of sundry collored fethers, with a handle of aggets garnished with silver gilte.’

Feather Hand-Screen, Queen Anne. Mr L. C. R. Messel.

In 1589, ‘a fanne of ffethers, white and redd, the handle of golde, inameled with a halfe moone of mother of perles, within that a halfe moon garnished with sparks of dyamonds, and a fewe seede perles on th’ one side, Pg 103having her majestie’s picture within it: and on the back-side a device with a crowe over it.’

‘Geven by Sir Frauncis Drake.’

In 1599:—

‘By Mrs. Wingfeilde, mother of the maydes, four ruffes of lawne and a fanne.’

From a letter of Rowland Whyte to Sir Robert Sydney, December 13, 1595, we learn that ‘upon Thursday she dined at Kew, my lord keeper’s (Sir John Packering) house (who lately obtained of her majestie his sute for £100 a yeare land in fee farm). His intertainment for that meale was great and exceeding costly. At her first lighting, she had a fine fanne, with a handle garnished with diamonds.’

It is also recorded that upon her visit to Hawsted Hall, the seat of Sir Thomas Cullum, she dropped a silver-handled fan into the moat.82

In the year 1600, a commission was issued to the Lord High Treasurer, the Lord Chamberlain, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Treasurer of Her Highness’s Chamber, to examine and take a perfect survey of all ‘robes, garments, and jewels,’ as well within the Court as at the Tower and Whitehall. In this, no less than twenty-seven fans appear. The following are enumerated:—

Item, one fanne of white feathers, with a handle of golde, havinge two snakes wyndinge aboute it, garnished with a ball of diamondes in the ende, and a crowne on each side within a paire of winges garnished with diamondes, lackinge 6 diamondes.

Item, one fanne of feather of divers colours, the handle of golde, with a bare and a ragged staffe on both sides, and a lookinge glass on thone side.

Item, one handle of golde enamelled, set with small rubies and emerodes, lackinge 9 stones, with a shipp under saile on thone side.

Item, one handle of christall, garnished with sylver guilte, with a worde within the handle.

Item, one handle of elitropia (q), garnished with golde, set with sparks of diamondes, rubies, and sixe small pearls, lackinge one diamonde.

Pg 104

The feather-fan appears in the following portraits of Queen Elizabeth, painted and engraved:—

Jesus College: white feather-fan with jewelled handle.

The Newcome picture, now in the National Portrait Gallery: part of a feather-fan, the portrait being three-quarter length.

Welbeck: a small feather-fan hanging from girdle.

The engraving by Johann Rutlinger: a large feather-fan, the handle of elaborate design set with jewels. Also pictures at Cobham; Woburn Abbey; Charlecote Park; Christ Church, Oxford; Penshurst; Powerscourt, and other places.

The folding-fan was not introduced into this country until the latter part of the queen’s reign; in the following pictures it appears:—

Jesus College, half length, 1590.

The Ditchley portrait, whole length, 1592; fan attached to the girdle and held in right hand.

Bodleian Library, portrait attributed to F. Zucharo.

To enumerate the different portraits, painted and engraved, in which the feather-fan appears, would be an impossible task; sufficient has been said to indicate the various forms these articles assumed. Reference may, however, be made to the feather-fan appearing in Renold Elstracke’s engraving of Anne of Denmark (queen of James I.); this consisting of three large ostrich plumes set in a jewelled handle. To the same engraver’s portrait of the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King James, a similar feather-fan. Also on a monumental brass, illustrated in Lipscomb’s Buckinghamshire, vol. iii. 291, the wife of John Pen, Esquire, 1641, appears with an ostrich feather-fan hung from her girdle. In a portrait attributed to Sebastian del Piombo at Frankfurt is an extremely ornate feather-fan with a silver handle.

We also obtain an excellent idea of the form these feather-fans assumed in Italy in the fifteenth century from the engraved design for a hand-screenPg 105 by Agostino Carracci (illustrated facing p. 204). This consists of an admirably designed cartouche enclosing a subject of a satyr and nymphs bathing; above is a bust of Diana enclosed in a second cartouche, at the top of which is a head and wings of a Cupid; the whole is surmounted by a tuft of ostrich feathers. On the same plate are three other medallions, Neptune and Minerva, a head of Mars, and the Graces, these latter either intended as alternative subjects or for introduction at the back of the fan. The engraving is signed ‘Agust. Carazza Inv. e fe.’

The feather-fan was used by both sexes, as we learn from Bishop Hall, describing a fashionable gallant:

‘When a plum’d fan may shade thy chalked face,
And lawny strips thy naked bosom grace.’

An ostrich-plume folded fan is given in a miniature of Mademoiselle D’Hautefort in the cabinet of M. de la Mésangère. This consists of ten sticks each with a single feather attached, dyed alternatively yellow and blue.

Feather-fans continued in general use until the time of Vandyck and later, and are in evidence in several portraits by this master; indeed the use of the tuft- and feather-fan has never been completely abandoned, the article having remained in intermittent use even to the present day.

None of these ancient feather-fans exist in their complete form, from the perishable nature of the ostrich plume, which, in the lapse of time, crumbles to fragments, and from this circumstance the remarkable feather hand-screen in the possession of Mr. Messel is of the highest interest.

A few handles, however, are to be found in the various collections, both public and private. A pretty ivory handle of a sixteenth-century Italian feather-fan is in the Salting collection, at present at South Kensington. This is delicately carved with two half-length female figures issuing from acanthus-leaved ornament, and holding a festoon of drapery, aPg 106 mask of Cupid above. Near the handle end are two winged terminal monsters.

The head of an ivory-fan handle, also Italian of the same period, is in the South Kensington collection: this has a female terminal (head restored) and two dolphins forming the top, two masks on either side, with other terminals and cornucopiæ.

GHOST FAN. Malay Archipelago
(Ethnological Museum, Berlin.)

Italian Fan, cut vellum mount. finely painted with miniatures,
end of 17th Cent., stick ivory, of later date.
Mr. L. C. R. Messel.

Pg 107



FAN OF FERRARA, OR ‘DUCK’S-FOOT’ THE establishment of the Portuguese as a conquering power in the far East dates from the first expedition of Vasco da Gama in 1497. Five years earlier, Christopher Columbus had sailed westward over the Atlantic, bearing a letter from his royal mistress to the great Khán of Tartary, seeking India and far Cathay, and finding instead—America.

The three expeditions of Vasco da Gama, during the first twenty years of the sixteenth century, together with the operations of Alfonso d’Albuquerque, resulted in the complete supremacy of Portugal as a trading power with the East. From Japan and the Spice Islands to the Red Sea and the Cape of Good Hope, they were the sole masters and dispensers of the treasures of the East,83 and during the whole of the sixteenth century enjoyed a complete monopoly of the Oriental trade. As early as 1502, the King of Portugal obtained from Pope Alexander VI. a bull constituting him ‘Lord of the Navigation, Conquests, and Trade of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia, and India,’ but it was not until 1516 that the Portuguese made their appearance in China, where, ‘at Ningpo, they succeeded in establishing a colony, carrying on a gainful trade with other parts of China, as well as with Japan.’84 It was thus that the folding-fan found its way first to Portugal through its traders.

Pg 108

This introduction of the folding-fan into Europe marks the beginning of a new era of the fan’s history, as, although both Chinese and Japanese fans possess qualities which are absolutely individual and unique, yet it must be confessed that the fan, in the hands of European artists, its early Oriental influence notwithstanding, ultimately developed a character and style quite its own, and reflecting the artistic conditions of its epoch and surroundings.

There are, however, considerable grounds for supposing that some form of the folding-fan, as we now know it, existed in Europe at a period considerably anterior to the Portuguese expedition to the East. Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire Raisonné du Mobilier Français, makes a remarkable statement in connection with some thin metal fragments which were unearthed during some excavation at the Château de Pierre. These fragments, says this distinguished author, which are very characteristic of a fan constructed like those of our own times, should be anterior to the siege of 1422, as they were found in the carbonised débris belonging to that epoch. They are composed of an alloyed metal, cuivre et argent. The piece B represents one of the outside flats, and was fixed to a guard of wood or very thin metal, to which was glued the stuff, or vellum; the piece A one of the branch pieces or brins. M. Viollet-le-Duc infers from the fact of the pieces not being pierced at the handle end, but finished with a cross, that the branches were tied with a silken cord, which would also be attached to the waist belt; he points out the great antiquity of the flabellum (doubtless meaning the cockade form), and concludes by saying, ‘It is difficult to allow that the fan, which is merely a derivation of it (qui n’en est qu’un dérivé), was not in use until the sixteenth century, as several writers have contended.’

Photo by J. Leroy.
Découpé Fan. Musée de Cluny.

M. Viollet-le-Duc’s meaning as to the probable construction of this fan is not so clearly stated as might possibly be desired. We take it that these pieces were but the ornaments of a folding-fan formed of ivory, wood, or other material on the modern principle—that the large piece B formed the Pg 109shoulder, to be completed by another piece forming the guard proper. However this may be, and whether these pieces really formed part of a folding-fan A     B or not, this author, in the concluding portion of his note, has expressed a truth which it is not possible to gainsay, viz. that the principle of the folding-fan already existed, in the form of the cockade, and that it is only necessary to divide the cockade in two parts, and to protect the ends with some firm substance, to arrive at the folded fan as we now know it. Indeed this was done—fans were carried towards the close of the sixteenth century which consisted of a segment of a cockade, inserted in a long handle similar to that of the plumed fan, thus uniting the characteristics of both plumed and folded fan. Vecellio, Habiti antichi et moderni di tutto il mondo, 1590, figures these small fans, of which two illustrations are given. We are thus presented with a decorative development which is gradual, reasonable, and complete, a development quite conceivably SMALL RIGID FANS. (From Vecellio.)independent of any importation from the East, and of itself bridging over the gap that otherwise would have existed between two apparently opposing types.

Any speculations as to how this fan of M. Viollet-le-Duc came to exist would therefore be idle; the type was no new one. We have already referred to the pleated fan crest, seen on the heads of horses in Phœnician and Persian monuments.85 A similar fan crest appears on the horse’s head in the

Pg 110

Brétigny seal of Edward III., engraved in consequence of the Treaty of Brétigny, 1360, by which this monarch renounced the title of King of France. This appeared again in the seal with the altered legend in which he resumed the title—the period of its use, 1372-77. This same seal with fan crest was used successively by Richard II., Henry IV. (first seal), and Henry VI. (silver seal), the legend only altered.

A still more remarkable example is the large displayed fan crest (the earliest authenticated instance of a regular crest),86 in the centre of which is a lion passant, on the top of the flat helmet of Cœur de Lion (second seal, 1197-99), used after his return from captivity, and quite possibly, therefore, borrowed from the East.

The fan-plume or panache appears also on the flat-topped helmet of Alexander III., King of Scots (second seal); the horse also bearing the fan-plume.

These fan crests are also seen on the seal of Richard Fitz-Alan, Earl of Arundel; of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, 1301; and of Edward of Carnarvon, Prince of Wales, 1305; and on the effigy of FEATHER-FAN.
Sir Geoffrey de Luttrel, c. 1340, showing a fan upon which the entire Luttrel arms are depicted. A large fan crest, having little tufts of feathers at each division of the fold, appears on the arms of the family of Schaler, Basle; another is to be found on the common seal of the City of London (dated 1539), charged with the cross of the city arms. ‘In course of time this fan, in the case of London, as in so many instances, has through ignorance been converted or developed into a wing, but the “rays” of the fan in this instance are preserved in the “rays” of the dragon’s wing (charged with a cross) which the crest is now supposed to be.’87

Fan of Mica, Italian, decorated with painted arabesques,
ivory stick, guards with mica insertions.
Mr. L. C. R. Messel.

Pg 111

With respect to the origin of these fan crests, we must go back, says Mr. Fox-Davies, to the bed-rock of the peacock popinjay vanity ingrained in human nature; the same impulse which nowadays leads to the decoration of the helmets of the Life Guards with horse-hair plumes and regimental badges, the cocked-hats of field-marshals and other officers with wavy plumes.... The matter was just a combination of decoration and vanity.

Notwithstanding the foregoing instances, it is abundantly clear that the folding-fan, though it may have been in intermittent use during these early periods, obtained no great vogue in Europe until the sixteenth century, when it was in general use in Portugal, Spain, and Italy, and that the prevalence of the fashion was resultant upon the influx of Eastern manufactures.

The feather-fan, referred to in the last chapter, although regarded as the sign of nobility, was occasionally carried by the wives of the rich merchants of Venice. A noble Venetian matron carries a tuft fan with a mirror in the centre garnished with pearls; the plumed fan is seen in the hands of the noble demoiselles of Milan, of married Genoese ladies, of the noble matrons of Siena, the latter of whom, together with the ladies of Venice, Perugia, and other cities, also carried the flag-fan.

The smaller fan, with long thin handle, surmounted with five or seven feathers set symmetrically, is carried by the Parmese, Ferrarese, and Florentine ladies, and by the noble matrons of Genoa.

The Milanese ladies carried a fan made apparently of feathers, rigid, and bound round in five sections. The married ladies of Naples and Bologna carried rigid screens designed in the form of a cartouche of the strap-work so usual in sixteenth-century Renaissance ornament. The later hand-screens, seen in the engravings of Callot and others, were obviously a development of this form.

The above instances are cited from the engraved work of A. dePg 112 Bruÿn,88 in which also appears a long-handled fan of seven feathers carried by a Turkish lady.

In an earlier work by the same engraver, Imperii ac Sacerdotii ornatus, 1579, a bishop holds in his left hand the feather fan, in his right a crozier.

In the art library, Victoria and Albert Museum, are several designs for feather-fans and handles, by an unknown artist, but certainly Italian, drawn vigorously with a pen and washed with bistre. In the same collection is a design in pencil for the panache of a folding-fan, in the Italian manner, displaying great knowledge of Renaissance design.

At the commencement of the seventeenth century, and indeed earlier, small screens were the fashion, painted either with love scenes, inscribed with suitable verses, or views of Italian towns, with a short description, and were sold for a sum equivalent to an English groat.

The English traveller, Thomas Coryat, in his Crudities (1608), writes: ‘These fans both men and women of the country [Italy] do carry to cool themselves withal in the time of heat, by the often fanning of their faces. Most of them are very elegant and pretty things, for whereas the fan consisteth of a painted piece of paper and a little wooden handle, the paper, which is fastened at the top, is on both sides most curiously adorned with excellent pictures.’ These, probably, are the fans referred to above as seen in Vecellio and the work of other engravers. Many were apparently rigid, and probably formed of ivory or similar hard substance; the size would be about six inches. They were by no means confined to Italy, but became the vogue in Spain, France, and other countries.

A long fan, carried by a noble Neapolitan lady, is given by Hefner-Altenek, in his work on costume. This is apparently rigid, since no sign of pleating is apparent in the representation, which is, however, small.

Pg 113

The colour is blue with decorations of gold, the figure taken from a picture in an album in the possession of this author, 1596-1611.

Doubtless one of the earliest forms of the folded fan in Italy was the so-called ‘duck’s foot,’ used by the ladies of Ferrara; the leaf, which opened to a quarter of a circle, was formed of alternate strips of vellum and mica, with delicately painted ornaments. The stick was of ivory and consisted of eight narrow blades. Blondel would seem to infer that this type of fan originated in France, and cites a contemporary portrait of ‘un personnage du Bal sous Henri III.’ A fan, evidently the ‘duck’s foot,’ with a pattern agreeing with the system of mica or other insertion, appears in an engraved portrait of Louise de Lorraine, queen of Henri III.

This form of fan is, however, probably Italian in its origin; it is figured by Vecellio, in the hands of a lady of Ferrara; it is also seen in the earlier engraved work of de Bruÿn, above referred to.

Legendary accounts of the woes of the unfortunate Torquato Tasso, who had dared to ‘lift his love’ to a princess of the house of Este, have afforded many themes for the imagination of subsequent writers from Byron and Goethe downwards. The story of the fan of Eleonora d’Este, which was of the form above described, surmounted with rubies, is a pretty one, and may be given for what it is worth.

On a day when reading to the princess his Gerusalemme, in which the episode of Olindo and Sofronia in the second canto was intended as portraying Tasso’s own situation with regard to her, his enraptured listener, won by the charm of the moment, was on the point of yielding, when, by a supreme effort, she recalled herself to her sense of duty, hesitated for a moment, grasped her fan, kissed it, flung it at the poet’s feet—and fled.

This association of vellum and mica appears to have been pretty general for the leaves of the folding-fans upon their first introduction in the middle of the sixteenth century. There were two different systems:Pg 114 in the one, the decoration consisted of painting on the plain surface of the mica or vellum, or both, as in the fan of Ferrara, or the Actæon fan, described on page 146; and in the other, the leaf is cut to such a degree of elaboration as almost to rival the finest lace, as in the charming fan in the Musée de Cluny, illustrated.

The system of mica insertion was developed until fans were made entirely of this material, with painted arabesque decoration similar in character to that of the Actæon fan at Cluny, illustrated page 146. An extremely interesting example is illustrated from the collection of Mr. L. C. R. Messel. In this, the stick is of plain ivory, perforated on the panaches, the blades numbering thirteen. The leaf is divided into three rows of twenty-five panels each, decorated with a medley of arabesques of children, animals, birds, and flowers, the panels separated by narrow borders in blue and black.

Of découpé fans, no finer example could be given than that from the Musée de Cluny, the stick of which is composed of ten blades of bone, the two outer ones extending the whole length of the leaf, the rest to a little less than half-way across. The leaf, which occupies exactly three-fourths of the whole length, is of paper cut to an extremely refined geometrical pattern of circles and lozenges, with small, and even minute pieces of mica inserted at intervals, imparting a richness and variety to the fan without destroying its lightness and elegance.

This type of fan appears constantly in the portraits, both painted and engraved, of the latter half of the sixteenth century. It reached England, apparently, about 1590, or a little earlier, and is seen in the portraits of Queen Elizabeth painted about this date.

This art of elaborate perforation (découpé) is essentially Italian in its origin, and was evidently practised to a considerable extent during the period we have been considering. In the fan which has become associated with Mademoiselle Desroches, the utmost degree of elaboration is attained, Pg 115and this example may be accepted as a type of a number of fans produced during the seventeenth century and later.

Venus & Adonis by Leonardo Germo., stick tortoiseshell, gilt.
Italian, early 18th Cent.
Wyatt Colln V. & A. Museum.

It was at a gathering of wits at Poitiers in 1579 that Étienne Pasquier, perceiving a flea on the neck of Mlle. Desroches, exclaimed that ‘la petite bestiole’ deserved to be immortalised. A collection of poems in Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian, was published in Paris in 1582, under the title of La Pulce de Mademoiselle Desroches, the most felicitous of these plaisanteries being, according to La Monnaye, from the pen of the lady herself.

The fan leaf, said to commemorate this event, once in the possession of the fair Pompadour, and now in the Jubinal collection at Paris, is of paper, elaborately cut to imitate lace. This leaf—the stick has long since perished—was exhibited at the great exhibition of fans at South Kensington in 1870. It bears five finely painted miniatures representing the senses; in the centre picture (touch) a young man places his finger on the bosom of a sleeping lady, the spot on the neck presumably representing ‘la petite bestiole.’89

The charming fan in the possession of Mr. L. C. R. Messel was obtained in Florence. The vellum leaf is finely perforated throughout; the large centre cartouche and series of small oblong panels are painted with exquisite minuteness and care. The character of the decoration is that of the later years of the seventeenth century, the stick of a subsequent date.

The great spirit of the Renaissance had well-nigh exhausted itself by the time the folded fan had become the vogue in Europe. Michael Angelo, the last of the Titans, died in 1564, and had lived long enough to witness the gradual extinction of the school he in great part created. Pierino del Vaga and Sebastian del Piombo had died seventeen years earlier.

Pg 116

The eclectic principle, developed to its highest attainable point by Raphael, Michael Angelo, Leonardo, was carried on by a crowd of men working on similar lines, but possessing far less knowledge and power, and what was vital truth in the work of the master was reduced to mere affectation in the hands of the follower.

During the closing years of the century, Italian art, it is true, received some sort of impetus as a result of the labours of the Carracci, but the revival was short-lived, and it remained to Guido, Guercino, Albani, Maratta, to continue the declension during the seventeenth, to be followed by Tiepolo and Canaletto in the eighteenth centuries.

It would serve no good purpose to quarrel with the painted folding-fan on account of its inability to rise to the high ideals of the quattro and cinque-cento. It belonged to a less spacious age, and if it descended to banality, it was because the times had become banal: it was entirely in tune with its surroundings.

It will be convenient, at this juncture, to describe in detail the various elements composing this fan-type which has easily distanced all others in the affections of the fair—a triumph so absolute and complete, that to ninety-nine women out of every hundred the idea of a fan is an instrument which may be folded.

The folding-fan, then, is made up of two principal parts—the stick (la monture) B B and the leaf or mount (la feuille) A. The former consists of a number of blades (brins) C C C C, which have varied at different periods, and are folded between two guards (panaches) D. The guard is made up of three dimensions: the handle-end (la tête) I, through which passes the pin (rivure) E—this is often jewelled; the Pg 117shoulder (gorge) II, reaching to the lower edge of the mount; and the guard proper III.

An Embarcation, stick ivory. silver pique.
Italian or French. end of 17th. Cent.
Mrs Hamilton Smythe.
Cupid’s Hive. Child’s Fan, or Pocket Fan.
Italian, early 18th. Cent., 12-1/2 x 6-7/8.
The Dowager Marchioness of Bristol.

The stick of the richer painted fans is composed of either ivory, mother of pearl, tortoise-shell, or bone: often carved with great minuteness, elaboration, and skill, and further enriched by gilding and inlay, painted miniatures, enamels, and precious stones; that of the less elaborate fan is of wood of various kinds—ebony, rosewood, bamboo, etc. It is also carved, gilt, inlaid, or lacquered in different ways.

The character of Italian sticks is that of simplicity and reticence, even to plainness, this being more in keeping with the generally grave character of the mounts. In a number of instances the brins present a perfectly flat, plain surface of ivory, relieved only by a little carving on the panaches. This is ornamented in various ways, the most characteristic method being that of gold and silver piqué. The work is done by means of a drill, the metal pressed into the spaces.

One of these Italian fans of the end of the seventeenth century, with plain white stick, is in the Wyatt collection, the skin mount painted with the Storming of Jerusalem, and the miraculous curing of Godfrey de Bouillon’s wound, the guards piqué with silver.

The beautiful Italian fan, with sea-nymphs upon a sandy shore, once belonging to the unfortunate Marie-Antoinette, and now in the possession of Mr. Burdett-Coutts, is an example of the best quality of piqué work. The stick is of horn of a light transparent golden hue. The panaches bear the crown and fleur-de-lys of France, and appear to be of somewhat later date than the brins and feuille, which may be put about 1760. The fan was acquired in Paris during the troublous times of the Revolution by the father of the late Rev. J. E. Edwards of Trentham, and exhibited by the last named at South Kensington in 1870. Upon the death of Mr. Edwards in 1885 it was purchased by the late Baroness Burdett-Coutts.

Pg 118

Another method of ornamentation is that of delicate piercing, the surface of the stick remaining flat and without carving. These pierced ivory sticks are occasionally alternated with those of another material, as light golden tortoise-shell, horn, and, in an instance in the Wyatt collection, with a mount of classical landscape and Pompeian ornament, pierced cedar.

The Italians, as also the Greeks, discovered early the resources offered to the artist by the material of ivory. Ariosto in his sixth elegy makes a charming reference to it in addressing his mistress:

‘As when ivory or marble wrought by the hand of the artist becomes unchangeable, so my heart, more inflexible than these, though it may fear the hand of the assassin, is incapable of receiving the image of any new love to remove thine which is engraven upon it.’

The richest sticks are either those in which the piercing is associated with carved panels or cartouches of figures, ornament, etc., with the ribbed backgrounds familiar to us in Chinese workmanship, or those of which the whole surface is treated in the most delicate relief, exhibiting the most consummate skill of handling. This is occasionally further enriched by gilding, silvering, and painting; in some instances, these several processes are associated, with the addition of mother-of-pearl and tortoise-shell inlay.

Mother-of-pearl is treated in precisely the same way as ivory, i.e. flat-pierced; pierced and carved; pierced, carved, and engraved; with, in some instances, the addition of painting, and occasionally tinsel and silvering or gilding.

The various kinds of mother-of-pearl used in the manufacture of fans are as follows:—The Burgan or Burgandine pearl obtained from Japan; the white pearl, ‘poulette,’ from Madagascar; a black mother-of-pearl from the East. The shells being relatively small, it becomes necessary to piece them together by a system of splicing. This is done so skilfully Pg 119that none but a practised eye is able to detect it. For the process of inlay and incrustation, the splendid Eastern pearl called ‘gold fish’ is used. This, upon its introduction, caused a complete revolution in the ‘éventail de luxe’; the magnificent rainbow tints of this pearl are said to be further enhanced by a process invented by M. Meyer.

Bacchus & Ariadne, after Guido, c.1830. 20-1/2 x 11-1/2 Lady Northcliffe.
The Triumph of Bacchus, after Annibale Carracci, 19-3/4 x 11. Lady Northcliffe.

Tortoise-shell follows the same principle of decorative development, and when piqué is employed, it is usually gold, as being more in harmony with the colour of the shell.

The ‘éventail brisé’ dates from the period of the first introduction of the folded fan into Europe. This is so named because it has no mount, but is entirely made up of a number of blades, which may be of any material—ivory, mother-of-pearl, the various woods, etc., and are painted, carved, or otherwise decorated, fastened at the head by means of a pin or rivet, and further connected with a ribbon running through each blade, at or near the circumference of the fan.

The earliest are those which were imported in such large quantities from the East, from the latter part of the sixteenth century onwards. The Western modification of these is seen in that class of fans produced in Italy and elsewhere during the latter part of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, which consisted of a system of flat, pierced scroll-work, of a somewhat severe and reticent character. This was supplemented by panels en cartouche painted and gilt, with portions of the ornament enriched with gold and colour; these usually opened out to rather less than a third of a circle. Miss Moss of Fleet possesses an interesting example with a painted ‘pastorale’ of three figures in the centre of the fan, together with lesser subjects en cartouche, the floral portion of the scroll ornament being emphasised with colour.

In the Wyatt collection is an interesting example of about 1730, in which the ornament forms a large cartouche in the centre, enclosing a subject of two Cupids holding a wreath over a heart with a canopyPg 120 above. The cartouche is gilt and the figures painted; the lower portion of the fan is painted and gilt with flowers in the Chinese taste. The guards are carved, painted, and gilt; the connecting ribbon of green silk ornamented with a pattern in gold.

This system was practised later, with the addition of carving in low relief, the ornament having developed a rococo character.

Horn is treated in the same process of flat piercing: this was extensively practised during the whole of the eighteenth century, and many ‘minuet’ fans were made. A beautiful Italian example of these ‘minuet’ fans is in the Wyatt collection, decorated with silver spangles, with a white silk connecting ribbon.

Double or reversible fans open both ways—either from left to right or the reverse. These were in vogue during the latter years of the eighteenth century, and were made of various materials, but usually ivory, with painted ornaments. The most interesting were, however, those of sandalwood, with three printed medallions on either side of the fan, giving twelve subjects. The device, although surprising at first sight, is really simple, and consists of printing each blade with portions of two different subjects in the centre, one set of halves being exposed, the other covered by the blade next following.

These fans were common to most of the Western countries of Europe, a large number being made in England with subjects after Angelica Kauffmann and others.

The materials employed for the mount are chicken skin (so called, but really kid subjected to a particular treatment), asses’ skin, vellum, parchment, silk of various kinds, satin, lace, and paper.

The leaf or mount is sometimes single, but more often double. Those of the richer fans are painted either in transparent colour or in gouache (body colour); the latter, however, must not be applied too thickly on account of its liability to crack.

Marriage of Cupid & Psyche, c. 1760. stick modern. Mr Frank Falkner.

Pg 121

When the leaf is ready for mounting, i.e. after the painting is finished, it is pleated in a mould consisting of two pieces of thick, strong paper or cardboard, specially prepared with a coating of an oily nature; the leaf being placed between, and the mould closed and pressed. The brins are then introduced between the folds, and fixed by means of glue. This mould was invented about 1760, and the manufacture of it has remained since that date in the French family of Petit.90 ‘This operation of pleating,’ says M. Duvelleroy (Rapports du Jury International, Exposition Universelle, 1867, vol. iv.), ‘very simple at present, was formerly very complicated; it was necessary for the éventaillistes to exercise the most scrupulous exactitude; now the mould dispenses with this care.’

Nothing that woman uses in the great art of pleasing can, however, be considered simple; do you doubt this fact? asks Charles Blanc, speaking of the modern collective mercantile system, rather than that of the artist, who begins his work and carries it to completion with his own hands. ‘No less than fifteen or twenty persons are employed in the making of a fan, which passes through three series of operations—1st, the work of the stick, in which are employed the cutter, the carver, the polisher, the gilder, the inlayer, the riveter, and sometimes the jewel setter, who inserts the precious stones; 2nd, the leaf, which requires the designer, painter, or printer as the case may be; 3rd, the work altogether, employing the gluer, and in the case of spangled or embroidered fans, the embroiderer or sempstress, and the folder or pleater.’ Finally, as in fitting, the last finishing touches—the tassels, tufts, and marabouts are added by the deft hand of a woman, and to quote again Charles Blanc, ‘when this formidable weapon of coquetry is completed, it is enclosed in a case, like a well-tempered blade in its sheath.’91

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The most distinctive Italian mounts are those in which the whole field is occupied by subjects, usually from classic mythology. These are either direct replicas or rearrangements of the works of the later Italian masters—Giulio Romano, the Carracci, Guido, Guercino, as well as those French artists who either worked in Italy, or whose works found their way to that country, as Poussin, who spent the greater part of his life in Rome, Le Brun, and others. In these the chief interest centres in the mount, which is usually deep, and generally of skin, but occasionally of paper. The painting is in pure water-colour and also in gouache. In many instances these leaves have never been mounted; in others, the mount has been removed from the stick, and framed as a picture. None can with any measure of certainty be traced to a master-hand, although a fan appeared at the exhibition held in Drapers’ Hall (1878), which is declared to be by Pietro da Cortona (Berrettini), 1596-1667, and said to have belonged to the Marquise de Pompadour.

One of the earliest of these fan-mounts is in the possession of Mr. J. G. Rosenberg of Karlsruhe; the subject Orpheus and Iphigenia, the date about 1670. In the Jubinal collection is a Rape of the Sabines, an original design by F. Romanelli, who was employed by Louis XIV. on the frescoes in the Bibliothèque Mazarine.

Bacchus and Ariadne was a favourite subject—Guido’s well-known composition in the Accademia di Luca, at Rome, being often pressed into the service. The large engraving of Jacobus Freij was issued in 1727, and it is probable that the majority of mounts decorated with this subject were produced after the publication of the engraving. The version illustrated is from the collection of Lady Northcliffe; a skin mount, with slight differences in the arrangement, was exhibited at South Kensington in 1870 by Captain J. E. Ottley; a third is in the cabinet of an American collector.

Bacchus & Ariadne, Italian, from a fresco at Pompeii, 18th Cent.,
bought in Naples by Lady Duncannnon.
Mrs. Bruce Johnston.
Fan mount, Italian, from a fresco at Pompeii, gouache on skin
bought in Naples by Lady Ponsonby.
Mrs Bruce Johnston.

Pg 123

The famous composition by Annibale Carracci in the Farnese Palace also appears on a number of mounts; a portion of this picture forms the subject of the centre medallion of Lady Northcliffe’s fan (illustrated).

The still more popular ‘Aurora’ of Guido supplied the subject of many mounts, including one in the Schreiber collection, British Museum.

Fans painted with Raphael’s well-known composition of the ‘Marriage of Cupid and Psyche,’ in the Villa Farnesina at Rome, appear in many collections, the landscape being added; the example illustrated is a typical one; the stick, however, is modern.

The fan in the Wyatt collection with the subject of Venus and Adonis, by Leonardo Germo of Rome, is interesting from the fact that it is an example of an artist, who, apparently, signed a number of fans, and also from the circumstance that it formerly belonged to Benjamin West. The mount is kid, the stick tortoise-shell, engraved, silvered, and gilt.

A fan with the subject of the Triumph of Mordecai, signed ‘Germo,’ was exhibited at South Kensington in 1870 by M. Chardin of Paris.

Another example in the possession of Lady Northcliffe has an allegorical subject by Germo, on skin, the stick of ivory finely carved, the guards mother-of-pearl.

Somewhat akin to the mounts above described are those elaborate compositions finely drawn in India ink, with pen or brush, on skin mounts, usually vellum. These, from the absence of colour, were used as mourning fans, the sticks invariably of ivory, piqué, or carved; they are included in most collections that make any pretension to completeness. Lady Bristol possesses one with the subject of Bacchus and Ariadne after Carracci; but by far the most splendid example of this class of fan appeared in the Walker sale in 1882. This is a crowded composition of the Triumph of Alexander (after Le Brun), in which the conqueror is seated in a chariot drawn by elephants; on the reverse the death of Actæon. The stick and guards mother-of-pearl, carved with Cupids and ornaments, painted in panels with episodes in the life of Alexander. Finely variegated gilding.

Pg 124

These fans are characteristically Italian, certainly Italian in their origin. Their production, however, was by no means confined to Italy. M. Duvelleroy has a Dutch example with ivory stick carved à jour, the mount vellum, the subject on the obverse representing an embarkation with numerous figures, on the reverse a dance of peasants with musicians. (Illustration facing p. 192.)

Neapolitan fans divide themselves into two distinct classes or groups—the first having a figure subject en cartouche in the centre, usually taken from classic mythology, the field being occupied by that form of arabesque (grotteschi), so usual in Pompeian wall decoration.

This class of mount dates from the re-discovery and unearthing of Pompeii in 1748, and its production was continued until the end of the century and later. Two excellent examples are given from the collection of Mrs. Bruce Johnston, formerly in the possession of Lord Bessborough. The one with the subject of Bacchus and Ariadne, from a fresco at Pompeii, bought in Naples by Lady Duncannon; the other of a sacrificial subject, also from a Pompeian fresco, obtained in the same city (in the eighteenth century) by Lady Ponsonby.

Many of these mounts have, in lieu of a single central subject, several miniatures en cartouche, associated with arabesques similar in character to those above referred to. A good example appears in the Wyatt collection at South Kensington.

In the second type of Neapolitan mounts, the field is similarly divided into panels, usually one superior and two inferior, representing views, generally the bay of Naples with Vesuvius in the distance, forming the centre panel, and Vesuvius in eruption, and a classic ruin on either side. These, with other Italian views, as the Colosseum in Rome, form a very large class; the panels being associated with arabesque or other ornaments.

Piazza of St Mark, after Canaletto,
skin mount, ivory stick finely carved with
characters of the theatre &c. painted & gilt.
Mr W. Burdett-Coutts. M.P.

Pg 125

Another, important class of Italian mounts gives a view of some famous building or place, occupying the whole field of the fan. Of this, no finer example could be given than the magnificent fan in the possession of Mr. W. Burdett-Coutts, M.P., of the Piazza of St. Mark’s, Venice, after Canaletto (Antonio Canal, b. 1687, d. 1768). The mount is skin; on the right is a group of performing acrobats surrounded by spectators; on the left some strolling players, with peregrinic theatre; on the reverse a view of Venice from the sea. The stick ivory, carved à jour, with characters of the pantomime, some being gilt and painted in ‘vernis Martin,’ others in the pure ivory; the guards carved with marks and musical trophies.

These acrobats, one of the popular Venetian amusements of the period, appear in ‘A Fête on the Piazzetta,’ school of Canaletto, in the Wallace collection.

This fan, together with one of a similar class, with a view of St. Peter’s at Rome, was acquired by the late Baroness at the Walker sale in 1882.

Fans were made for children in Italy and most other countries during the eighteenth century. These were both painted and printed, the latter variety often having the numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0, on the leaf, doubtless as serving an educational purpose. A collection of these children’s fans was exhibited by Miss Marie Josephs at Drapers’ Hall in 1890.

The beautiful Italian fan, ‘Cupid’s Hive,’ contributed by Lady Bristol, is so charming in the skill of its painted leaf, and the delicate carving of its ivory-jewelled stick, that it is difficult to conceive of its having been placed in the hands of a child. These fans occasionally appear in painted portraits, the Infanta Margaretha-Theresia, by Velasquez, in the Vienna Gallery, being an instance.

The foregoing includes all the principal types of fans produced in Italy during the period we have under consideration; they each present well-marked characteristics, and are therefore not difficult of identification.Pg 126 We have abundant written testimony to the superiority of the Italian workmen during the seventeenth century, and to the extent of the Italian export trade in fans during this period and even later. We have also the evidence of the fans themselves; we shall see, too, how the Paris éventaillistes first learned their craft from the Italian workmen who migrated northward. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, however, a complete change had taken place in the conditions of fan production, this period witnessing the rise of the French export trade, and the middle of the century its highest development, at which latter period Paris supplied not only Italy but Spain, and to some extent England also. Of this we have more than a hint from the pen of one of the most distinguished Italians of the latter half of the century.

The fan of Goldoni’s comedy was one of the ordinary sort, ‘not worth perhaps five paoli.’ The concluding lines of the play make it clear that a considerable trade in the cheaper French fans was done in Italy at this period (1763), and, by inference, that Paris fans had the best reputation, unless indeed we are to suppose that this was a compliment paid by Goldoni to the country of his adoption, from which, too, he enjoyed a pension:

Candida (to Susanna). It is from Paris, this fan?
Susanna. Yes, from Paris; I guarantee it.
Geltrude. Come, I invite you all to supper, and we will drink to this
fan which did all the harm and brought all the good.
Spanish Fan, skin mount, painted in the Chinese taste.
stick ivory, richly carved.
Lady Lindsay.

Pg 127



(Carried by the married ladies of Bologna.)
The Spaniards, says Henri Estienne, carried towards 1440 large round screens garnished with plumes, and in the sixteenth century folded fans, éventails plissés, enriched with gold and attached to the waist by a gold cord. Of these latter, many, doubtless, were imported from Italy; few, probably, were of native workmanship. A very small pleated fan appears in the hand of a Spanish lady, illustrated in Vecellio, 1590. The rigid flag-fan employed in Italy at this period was also used in Spain, together with the various plumed fans, some in the shape of a peacock’s tail; others formed of the feathers of the ostrich, pheasant, parrot, and Indian raven. During the seventeenth century and later, a large export trade in unpainted pleated fans was done in Paris to Madrid and other Spanish cities, where they were decorated by native artists; many were exported complete, the authenticity of many so-called Spanish fans must always therefore remain a more or less doubtful question. The well-known story of Cano de Arevalo, given in Quilliet’s Dictionnaire des peintres espagnols, sufficiently testifies to the extent of the Paris export trade and the popularity of French fans during this period. This painter, who was a capable miniaturist, finding himself impoverished after a period of extravagance and dissipation, secluded himself for a whole winter, produced a number of fans, and passed them off as newly-imported French ones. The trick proved completely successful, for uponPg 128 its discovery, he was not only hailed as a master, but was subsequently appointed abaniquero (fan-maker) to the queen. Cano was born at Valdemoro in 1656, and was assassinated in a bull-fight at Madrid in 1696. From the same source (Quilliet) we learn that Cano also ‘essayed water-colour painting on a larger scale, but only succeeded with fans,’ which are still esteemed, the few that are preserved.

This success of Cano must necessarily have given a considerable impetus to the native production of fans, largely used from the fifteenth century onwards by men as well as women.

In brief, the story of Spanish painting during the whole of the sixteenth century is that of a general migration of Spanish artists to Italy for purposes of study, with a consequent strong Italian influence; and an immigration of Italian artists to Spain, chiefly at the invitation of Charles V. The seventeenth century witnessed the rise and full development of a purely native school of painting, headed by Velasquez and Murillo, who, however, can scarcely be said to have exercised any influence upon the fan, since they were painters pure and simple, i.e. their works were distinguished by the qualities of the painter rather than those of the designer; and, especially in the case of Velasquez, their subjects were unsuitable to the fan.

We do not usually look to the last-named painter for elaboration of detail. The folding-fan in the hands of the Spanish lady by Velasquez, ‘La Femme à l’Éventail,’ at Hertford House, would appear to be of leather, judging from the colour and texture, with applied ornaments at regular intervals. This is probably of the scented variety, peau de senteur, made both in Italy and Spain at this period.92 We have already referred to the portrait of the little Infanta Margaretha-Theresia by Velasquez in the Vienna Gallery, in which a closed folding-fan is represented.

Rinaldo in the Garden of Armida, French, Louis XV.
stick tortoise-shells finely carved, painted & gilt.
Miss Moss.
Capture of the Balearic Islands, 1759, Spanish. Mr L. C. R. Messel.

Pg 129

In the Prado at Madrid appear the following portraits:—


Maria Giuseppa, Archduchess of Austria, a closed folding-fan, jewelled.

Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples, a folding-fan.


Queen Maria Cristina di Borbone, a closed folding-fan.


Queen Maria Luisa, a closed folding-fan.

The interesting fan representing the capture of the Balearic Islands by the Spaniards in 1759 may be taken as of Spanish workmanship. The subject is taken from a painting in the Escurial. The stick is ivory, carved à jour with three cartouches, painted and gilt; in the centre appear figures of commanders on horseback, a march of troops on the one side and warships on the other; the background ‘gold-fish’ inlay. The paper mount is painted in gouache; and on the reverse is a view of a fort. The style of the painting presents similar characteristics to a fan mount in the Schreiber collection, British Museum, in which we are introduced to a ‘Carrousel at Madrid,’ with a large square filled with spectators appearing at the windows of the houses; in the centre of the background is a pavilion with the king and suite, inscribed Carlos III., and a performance of a number of horsemen led by the ‘Duque de Médinacéli,’ the ‘Marques de Tabara,’ and the ‘Marques de Aztorga.’ The leaf, which has been removed from the stick, is of paper, painted in gouache. A fan of this subject appeared in the exhibition of fans at South Kensington in 1870, in the possession of Madame Charles Heine of Paris; the stick of tortoise-shell, carved and gilt.

This same king, who succeeded to the Spanish throne in 1759, figures as the subject of two fan designs in the Schreiber collection, the one representing his triumphal entry into Naples in 1734 on his election to the crown of the Two Sicilies, with the subject inscribed in Spanish; the leaf signed ‘Fo La Vega Hisp. Let. D.’; below the picture, ‘Miñado por Cayetano Pichini Romano.’ The other, a companionPg 130 fan design, represents the sham-fight and siege of Gaeta in 1734 on the occasion referred to above; a canopy bears the arms of Spain, and on either side a trophy with the arms of Medicis and Farnese; the subject inscribed in Spanish: ‘Foo La Vega Hispas Bilbilitanus Inv e Delineavit Roma’ and ‘Minado Por Leonardo Egiarmon Flamenco.’ Both these fan designs are vigorously drawn with pen in bistre and worked with India ink, the style betraying a strong late Italian influence.

One of the first acts of Charles, upon his accession to the throne, was to enter into a treaty with Louis XV. known as the ‘Pacte de famille,’ by which these two kings of the house of Bourbon united themselves into an offensive and defensive alliance. By the terms of this treaty, signed 15th August 1761, Spain was obliged to take part in the war in which France and England were then engaged, France hoping to avail herself of the maritime power of Spain, and to prevent Portugal from declaring common cause with England. Its only effect, however, was to inflict upon her ally a series of disasters similar to her own, Spain losing Cuba, Manilla, and the Philippine Islands, and France Martinique, besides being finally expelled from Canada, thus completing the work begun by Wolfe at Quebec some two years previously.

The sequel to these events was the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the preliminaries of peace being signed at Fontainebleau on the 3rd November of the previous year.

By the terms of this instrument, Canada, the islands of Minorca, Grenada and the Grenadines, St. Vincent, Dominica and Tobago were ceded to Britain, while to France were restored Belleisle on the French coast, the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon near Newfoundland, Martinique, Guadaloupe, Marigalante, Desirade, and St. Lucia in the West Indies. Havannah was restored to Spain, the Spaniards in return ceding Florida to the English, and agreeing also to make peace with Portugal.

The betrothal of Louis XVI. & Marie Antoinette, Spanish, skin mount, tortoiseshell stick, gold & silver incrustations. Mrs Frank W. Gibson (Eugènie Joachim)

Pg 131

In La Revue Hispanique, tome viii., appeared an article by M. Gabriel Marcel, reprinted in pamphlet form under the title of ‘Un Éventail Historique du dix-huitième siècle, Paris, 1901,’ describing and illustrating a remarkable fan in the cabinet of a Parisian amateur whose name is not given, commemorating the event above referred to.

The stick is ivory, carved with an agreeable pell-mell of cartouches, gilt; the centre being occupied by a conversation galante of four figures in the costume of the Watteau period.

In the centre of the skin leaf, finely painted in gouache, is a stone table carved in high relief with figures of Cupids, near which are the Kings of France and Spain, each accompanied by a female figure representing the respective countries, and bearing a shield of arms; above, a figure of Peace crowned with olive leaves appears from the clouds and directs the ceremony. In the middle distance is a tribune on which are seated three female figures, with a cornucopia of abundance, and the arms of France and Spain; above is a figure of Fame with a trumpet.

In the more immediate foreground are the Kings of England and Portugal, their identity being determined by the blazoning of the shields which accompany them. Court officials, together with their ladies, complete the composition.

The reverse, which is less interesting, and probably by another hand, represents an architectural structure with, again, the arms of France, and above, those of France and Spain entwined.

Although it is possible that the fan may be of Spanish manufacture, it is more probably French, since it bears all the characteristics of French work of the period of Louis Quinze. It was probably made either for a royal princess, or for the wife of some prominent official who took part in the negotiations of the treaty.

The classical revival of the middle of the eighteenth century was not without its effect on Spain; fans being painted in this country also with subjects from the Greek mythology. At the exhibition at South KensingtonPg 132 in 1870, the Dowager-Countess of Craven exhibited a large Spanish dress fan, the mount richly painted on vellum, with a centre subject of Aurora and Zephyr, the floral ornaments embossed in gold and spangled; the stick carved ivory and mother-of-pearl, with figures in gold relief variegated and spangled, jewelled stud.93

Towards the middle of the eighteenth century onwards, a class of fan was made in which the stick, usually of tortoise-shell, but also of ivory and other material, was elaborately pierced and carved, occasionally in the most ornate fashion, the brins numbering from eight to ten, the guards wide, both being heavily incrusted with gold and silver. The mounts of these fans were always narrow, measuring about three-sevenths of the length of the stick. This class of fan, examples of which appear in most collections, by general consent has been associated with Spain, although, doubtless, it was produced in other countries also.

One of the earliest of these fans, as well as one of the finest, is that in the possession of Lady Bristol, described and illustrated in the succeeding chapter, page 163. This, from the skill displayed in its finely designed stick, and the style of its delicately painted leaf, is more probably French than Spanish. Interesting examples of this class of fan are given from the collections of H.R.H. the Princess Victor of Hohenlohe-Brandenburg and Mrs. Frank W. Gibson. In the first-named instance the stick is tortoiseshell, with gold incrustations of figures of Roman warriors, musicians in the costume of the period of the fan (c. 1780), Cupids, and other ornaments: the leaf a pretty pastoral; the work, although probably Spanish, showing a strong French influence.

Mrs. Gibson’s fan belonged to her grandmother, who was a Spaniard; the leaf, probably, represents the betrothal of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette, Louis being but sixteen at the time of his marriage in 1770. The Austrian Court was closely allied to that of Spain; and this subject, therefore, would naturally appeal to the Spaniards. A wedding fan occurs in the collection of Lady Lindsay, having for its centre medallion a lady’s dressing-room, with Cupid holding a mirror; on the sides are a Cupid lighting his torch from an altar, and a Cupid with bow and arrows. The stick of tortoise-shell, finely silvered and gilt.


Page 132, line 12 from bottom, for H.R.H. the Princess Victor of Hohenlohe-Brandenburg, read H.S.H. the Princess Victor of Hohenlohe Langenburg.

Pastorelle, Spanish, c. 1780. skin mount, tortoiseshell stick, gilt incrustations. H.S.H. Princess Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.

Pg 133

A remarkable fan in this same collection was brought from Madrid by Lady Canning, who accompanied Sir Stratford Canning to Spain on a special mission from Queen Victoria, and was given to Lady Lindsay in 1878. The stick is of ivory, finely and elaborately carved; the mount, skin, painted in the Chinese taste; illustrated facing p. 127.

The character of Spanish work of the stick, which, with a few isolated exceptions, never reached a high level of attainment, materially deteriorated towards the close of the century. A fan appears in the Schreiber collection, with ivory stick, indifferently carved and gilt, the silk leaf having for its subject a large medallion of the surrender of Minorca in 1782, with the English army evacuating the island, and the Spanish flag waving over the fort of S. Phelippe; the sides decorated with vases of flowers embroidered, painted, and spangled; the subject inscribed in Spanish along the top border of the fan.

Of the treatment of the stick, two interesting examples in the Wyatt collection may be referred to—the one, belonging to the early part of the century, in which painted trellis-work in blue and brown is introduced as a background to finely pierced and carved cartouches of figures and other subjects, the ornament being enriched with gold; the other with a paper mount representing the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon (probably a church-fan), the mother-of-pearl sticks engraved with three figure subjects en cartouche, with elaborate scroll-work; the leading features of the ornament, together with portions of the figures, being emphasised with thin lines of gold, having an extremely pleasant effect; c. 1750.

Spanish painting in the latter half of the eighteenth century experiencedPg 134 some revival in the person of Francisco Goya, one of the most extraordinary personalities who ever wielded a brush, and whose greatness is only just beginning to be adequately recognised, chiefly, however, on account of his etchings, of which he produced a number.94

If we may conceive Goya as ever touching the fan, the example illustrated, from the collection of Lady Northcliffe, is just such a one as he might have painted. At any rate this may be considered as a typical Spanish fan. The silk leaf has in the centre a mounted picador, with six medallions of bull-fights; above the picador are two Cupids holding a shield of arms, with thirteen other shields along the upper border, bearing the arms of Biscaria, Cordova, Majorca, Valencia, Arragonia, Leon, Castillia, Navarra, Toledo, Gallicia, Andalusia, Murcia, and Catalonia. The shields, together with the medallions, are bordered with embroidered spangles; the ivory stick and guards finely pierced and inlaid with gold and silver.

The charming spangled fan in the possession of Mr. Talbot Hughes may also be accepted as of undoubted Spanish workmanship. In this, the leaf is of white silk, painted with a female figure in a garden, arranging flowers from a basket. The head is an applied miniature on ivory, a device much affected by the Chinese; the necklace, seed pearls appliqué; the dress completely of spangles. The leaf is enriched with a border of gold and silver sequins of various forms, some being set with crystals. The stick ivory, coloured, gilt, and decorated à la paillette. The date about 1800.

Spanish Fan, Bull Fights, c. 1780, silk mount spangled ivory stick carved à jour, gold & silver incrustations. Lady Northcliffe.

It has been shown, beyond any possibility of doubt, that during the seventeenth century French exportation of this dainty article to Spain was considerable, French fans enjoying the best reputation in that country, as well as in Italy, and that this pre-eminence was maintained during the succeeding century, the period of the highest development of the fan Pg 135industry in France; but while it is difficult to associate the native Spanish workmanship with fans of the highest calibre, a preference for the richer French fans having always prevailed, it is certain that the production of the cheaper fans was, and is, considerable, Valencia being the chief centre of the industry. It is equally certain that in no country in Europe is the employment of the fan so general, or the toy so gracefully wielded, as in this land of light, colour, and romance.

Théophile Gautier (Tra los montes) thus refers to the importance of the fan in Spain: ‘The Fan corrects in some measure the pretension of the Spaniards to Parisianism. A woman without a fan is a thing I have never yet seen in that favoured land; I have seen women wearing satin shoes without any stockings, but they had, nevertheless, their fans, which follow them everywhere, even to church, where you meet groups of all ages, kneeling or sitting, praying and fanning themselves with equal fervour.’

‘We should remember,’ says Disraeli (Contarini Fleming), ‘that here [Cadiz], as in the north, the fan is not confined to the delightful sex. The cavalier also has his fan; and, that the habit may not be considered an indication of effeminacy, learn that in this scorching clime the soldier will not mount guard without this solace.’

In Spain, as in China and Japan, there is a fan for every occasion—for the street, where paper ones are used, these affording more breeze on a sultry day than do lace or silk; for feast days, bull-fights,95 and the theatre, silk or lace fans, mounted on sandalwood, bone, ivory, or mother-of-pearl. A favourite material is silk, mounted on a carved wooden frame which opens and shuts easily, a most essential thing in a Spanish fan, which is perpetually in motion, portraying the feelings and thoughts that are passing through the mind of its owner.

Pg 136

The fan is in the hands of every one, from the merest baby to the big toreador, who employs it as a means of exciting the ire of his bovine adversary. It serves as convenient screen for the dark-eyed beauty, who, seated in the balcony in the still evening, listens eagerly to the impassioned serenade beneath.

At the theatre, says Blondel, nothing is more curious than the manipulation of these instruments, playing with the expressive grace which is a silent flirtation. Before the play begins, or during the intervals, every one talks in the midst of a confused noise resembling the buzzing of an immense swarm of flies. The curtain rises—all resume their places; the conversation ceases; the fans, everywhere waving in varied movement, gradually, one by one, tone down into regularity of time; they flutter in captivating cadence, suggesting in appearance a crowd of variegated butterflies, and charming the ear with their delightful ‘frou-frou.’

It is this play of the fan (manejo del abanico) in which fair dames and demoiselles have become such adepts, that it has been necessary to coin a word to express this charming art. Thus, ‘abanicar’ means the play of the fan, while ‘ojear’ signifies the language of the eyes. These two manœuvres, remarks M. Louis Énault shrewdly, are closely allied, and one alone suffices for a man’s destruction.

The fan, indeed, has its own particular language, more eloquent than that of flowers—the Spanish novia (lady-love) communicates her thoughts by code to her novio (sweetheart), as—engaged couples in Spain being never allowed alone—woman’s ready wit has devised this means of private conversation.

Spanish Fan, silk mount spangled, the head an ivory miniature. necklace of seed pearls. c. 1800. Mr Talbot Hughes.
Fête de l’Agriculture, 1798, silk mount, spangled. Mr LCR. Messel.

The instructions are set forth in fifty different directions in a little booklet published in German by Frau Bartholomäus, from the original Spanish of Fenella. A few examples will probably suffice as an indication of the method:—

Pg 137

1. You have won my love.Place the shut fan near the heart.
2. When may I be allowed to see you?The shut fan resting upon the right eye.
3. At what hour?The number of the sticks of the fan indicate the hour.
4. I long always to be near thee.Touch the unfolded fan in the act of waving.
5. Do not be so imprudent.Threaten with the shut fan.
6. Why do you misunderstand me?Gaze pensively at the unfolded fan.
7. You may kiss me.Press the half-opened fan to the lips.
8. Forgive me, I pray you.Clasp the hands under the open fan.
9. Do not betray our secret.Cover the left ear with the open fan.
10. I promise to marry you.Shut the full-opened fan very slowly.

And so on, through the whole gamut of the language of love.

A shorter code has been published in English (duly copyrighted) by M. J. Duvelleroy. This, although the principle is the same, differs materially in the details; thus, ‘I love you’ in Spanish is to hide the eyes behind the opened fan; in English, to draw the fan across the cheek. ‘I hate you,’ in the former instance, is to raise the shut fan to the shoulder in the right hand; in the latter, to draw the fan through the hand: either code being sufficiently expressive and acquired with tolerable ease.

Pg 138



(From a Fifteenth-Century MS. in the National Library, Paris.)
The so-called Renaissance of the arts of France in the sixteenth century was the outcome of an increased knowledge of, and familiarity with, Italian ideals of life, and the splendours of a more refined civilisation; it represented the assimilation of the national spirit, the union of French ‘netteté d’exécution’ with the more sober learning of Italian tradition. The beginnings of this Italian influence are to be discovered earlier, in the visit of Jean Foucquet to Italy in 1440-1445; this event being the signal for a general migration of Italian artists northward.

For the purposes of the fan, however, we are concerned only with the history of French art from the period when, in 1530, at the invitation of François I., Le Rosso and Primaticcio repaired to Paris for the purpose of decorating the palace at Fontainebleau.

At this period architecture was creating Chenonceau and Chambord. Sculpture, in the hands of Cellini and Jean Goujon, was providing the decorative details for the château then being built by Philibert de l’Orme for Diana de Poitiers.

In the sister art of Painting, Jean Cousin and François Clouet, together with Primaticcio, who continued working until 1570, were the dominant influences.

Pastorelle, style of Watteau, skin mount, stick mother of pearl, finely pierced, carved, & embossed with a sacrificial scene in gold. French. c. 1750. Wyatt Colln. V. & A. Museum.

Pg 139

Simon Vouet, recalled to Paris after a lengthy sojourn in Rome, was painting the nobles of the French court, and decorating for Richelieu the Palais Royal and the Château de Rueil. Poussin, French by birth, Italian and classic in sympathy, found the artistic atmosphere of Rome more congenial to him. In 1640, upon a pressing invitation from Louis XIII., he migrated to Paris, but, on account of court intrigues, the jealousies of his brother artists, and the malignity of Vouet, under pretence of bringing his wife from Rome, he left Paris in 1642, never to return.

The pupils of Vouet were Le Sueur and Charles le Brun. With this latter artist French painting enters upon a new phase, and it is impossible to overestimate the influence for good or for evil exercised by him during the latter half of the seventeenth century; nay, it extended practically over the whole of the century, since he began painting almost from his infancy.

The work of Le Brun, in spite of its many affectations, possesses many admirable qualities: such a composition, for example, as ‘The Entry of Alexander into Babylon,’ now in the Louvre, which, by the way, appears on an Italian fan in the Wyatt collection, at once stamps him as a master of decorative arrangement, and is typical both of his qualities and his limitations.

One of the most significant events in the history of French art was the founding of the Academy in 1648: in this Le Brun naturally took a leading part, as also in the foundation of the French School in Rome, of which he was the first director. The establishment of the Academy had a direct as well as an indirect bearing upon the fan, since on more than one occasion it ‘used the power of its prestige in defence of the just liberties of the éventaillistes.’96

Pg 140

Pierre Mignard (Le Romain), the lifelong rival of Le Brun, possessed something of the grand manner, derived from his study of the Carracci and Domenichino. In 1664 he was the head of the Academy of St. Luke, and in 1690, upon the death of Le Brun, he was appointed Director of the Academy of Painting, a post which he filled until his death in 1695.

We have said that during the sixteenth century, Italian influences on French art were paramount—these influences being entirely healthy and regenerative. Throughout the succeeding century the dominant influence was still Italian, but its effect was as deleterious as it had been formerly beneficent.

By 1700 the decorative arts were well on the downward path. Bernini had been dead twenty years, but his influence, together with that of Borromini, was still a living thing, and was still working irreparable mischief. Sir M. Digby Wyatt, in a powerful article written for Owen Jones’s Grammar of Ornament, referring to Borromini, says: ‘From his fervid imagination and rare facility as a draughtsman and designer, he soon obtained ample employment; and in his capricious vagaries, every tendency to extravagance that Bernini’s style possessed Borromini contrived to caricature. Until his death, in 1667, he continued sedulously occupied in subverting all known principles of order and symmetry, not only to his own enrichment, but to the admiration of the leaders of the fashion of the day. The anomalies he introduced into design, the disproportionate mouldings, broken, contrasted, and re-entering curves, ... became the mode of the day, and all Europe was speedily busy in devising similar enormities. In France the fever raged speedily, and the popular style, in place of the quaint but picturesque forms to be seen in the engravings of Du Cerceau, 1576, substituted the more elaborate but less agreeable ones to be found in Marot, 1727, and Mariette, 1726-7.... Despite this debasing influence,’ continues our Pg 141author, ‘many of the French artists of the time, both of Louis XIV. and XV., in the midst of their extravagances, made many beautiful ornamental designs, showing in them a sense of capricious beauty of line rarely surpassed.’

La Danse, Louis XV, skin leaf, mother of pearl stick, carved, painted, & gilt. 22” X 11-3/4”. The Duchess of Portland.
Pastorelle, Louis XV, skin leaf, tortoiseshell stick, with gold incrustations 18-1/4” × 10”. The Duchess of Portland.

This, although written at the period of perhaps the very lowest ebb of the decorative arts, the mid-Victorian era, pretty well sums up the matter, and is a fair estimate of the decorative tendencies that obtained at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The general character of the fan, therefore, necessarily partook of this debasing influence, and reflected the ornamental vulgarities and fashionable inanities of the time. Thus we have, in moulded ornament, a profusion of those extravagant shell-like cartouches which have become identified with the periods of Louis XV. and XVI.; curly structures elaborately perforated, beginning and ending at will, observing no reasonable or well-defined law, but expressing only the caprice of the artist. These either formed the starting-point for the lighter ornaments, or were associated with naturalistic swags and festoons of fruit and flowers, masks, ribbons, etc.

With the dawn of the eighteenth century, French pictorial art enters upon that era of fêtes galantes, conversations galantes, and amusements champêtres, which, whatever its shortcomings, was purely French and native to the soil. The pernicious influence of the Italian decadence is about to be shaken off. Watteau was sixteen years old, and just commencing those labours which resulted in the practical regeneration of French painting. He may be said to dominate the art of the eighteenth century as completely as Le Brun had overshadowed the century which preceded. He sums up in himself that spirit of the joyousness of life, that careless, impulsive frivolity which is the note of the age.

His immediate followers, Lancret, Pater, and in some sense De Troy, carried on the tradition, but with a more pronounced convention: the shimmer and sheen of silk and satin draperies are painted according toPg 142 a recipe, the general treatment of the subjects reveals a less delicate fancy, and a less tender sympathy.

Boucher, friend and servant of La Pompadour, ‘with her fan that breaks through halberds,’97 has been styled, with more or less semblance to truth, the Anacreon of painters. His convention is of an entirely different order to that of Watteau and his school; but if his method and style is more artificial, it is because life and manners have become less sincere, and because he is true to his belief that ‘Nature wanted harmony and seduction’; he yields nothing to his predecessors in artistic power, he is completely master of his technique, and understands exactly the measure of his gifts. In his pupil Fragonard, we have in reality the true heir and successor of Watteau—the same supple touch, the same alluring grace, the same captivating invention and suggestiveness which always summons us to an enchanted land of love, and music, and dalliance.

It was an exceedingly gay, light-hearted, and pleasant time—in painting at any rate. Strephon sat at the feet of Phyllis, warbling soft nothings to the accompaniment of the lute. Dan Cupid, who was everywhere in evidence, took it for granted that his presence was always à propos, and never troubled his curly head as to whether his decorative surroundings were in the nicest possible taste. The fan necessarily reflected this eccentricity and extravagance—indeed it took its natural place in the general decorative scheme; the ‘dainty rogues’ of the sideboard and mantel-shelf were in complete harmony with the still more dainty rogues of the fan; the shepherdess in her flowered skirt rubbed shoulders, or attempted to do so, with the fine lady in crinoline.

Momens Musicals, ‘Vernis Martin.’ Mr Leopold de Rothschild.

The fun waxed faster and more furious; the times grew madder and still more mad; the exuberance of the rococo became more and more pronounced, until no inanity remained untried, no extravagant banality overlooked. Then came the inevitable reaction. The latter half of the Pg 143century witnessed the sowing of the seed, and, indeed, the full fruition, of that neo-classicism, which, although a relief from the barocco of the preceding period, was the outcome of no settled conviction except the desirability of entering any port in a storm; it had its origin in the interest which was then being taken in archæology and classical research.

With the Revolution came artistic chaos, and—the nineteenth century. The cold, correct classicalities of the ‘style de l’Empire’ were due, in great part, to the influence of the painter David, although the inauguration of this new epoch was claimed by Vien. The work of David and that of his immediate followers, Girodet, Gros, Gérard, and Ingres, represented perhaps the natural antidote to the decorative debauch which is here passed rapidly in review; its final overthrow was brought about by that riot of academic tradition in which it subsequently indulged, rather than by the labours of Delacroix and the school of Romanticists which followed.

This, in the briefest possible terms, is an account of the general and more obvious tendencies of French art during the two centuries we have under consideration. How far, then, and to what extent may we trace the direct handiwork of these artists upon the fan? What of the authors of these dainty creations, that fluttered and shimmered like so many butterflies through the summer sunshine—what do we know of their personality?

Several references are made in this work to the similarity which exists between the éventaillistes and the ceramists. The conditions of production were precisely the same, the workers in the two arts were, broadly speaking, of the same artistic calibre; indeed, it is on record that, upon a shortage of painters at the royal factory of Sèvres, the éventaillistes were called in to fill the breach. At the close of the reign of Louis XV., says Paul Mantz, the most prominent éventaillistes were Chevalier, Josse, Boguet, Hébert, Race, and Mme. Vérité. Amongst thePg 144 painters, almost in every instance obscure, were doubtless some young artists who had still their position to make, and the signature of Cahaigue is recorded with the date 1766. In the Louvre are two fan leaves signed by Raymond La Farge, c. 1680. An ivory brisé fan, with the subject of Blindman’s Buff, signed ‘Tiquet Fecit, 1720,’ appeared in the Walker sale in 1882. Le Sieur Pichard, also, is mentioned in an almanac of 1773, as being very well known as a fan painter; Mme. Doré, at the same date, painted on silk and gauze: both the last-named worked for the éventaillistes.—But the greater names, which have become illustrious in the annals of French art, Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard; is it possible to claim these also for the fan?—A fan bearing the ineffably gracious touch of a Fragonard, what a possession! Lancret painted a picture in the form of a fan, representing two figures in a wooded landscape. M. Paul Mantz, referring to the fan in the collection of Dr. Poigey of Paris, decorated with light simple ornament and medallion heads of a youth and two young girls, says: ‘The delicacy of refined rose tint, the sureness of touch, the free manipulation of the gouache, show a master-hand; of a certainty, if Boucher ever painted a fan, it is this one.’

Balzac (Cousin Pons) refers to a ‘gem of a fan’ found at a secondhand dealer’s, enclosed in a little box of West India wood, signed by Watteau(?), and formerly the property of La Pompadour. The old musician turns towards his cousin with a courtly bow, offers her the fan of the favourite, saying: ‘It is time for that which has served Vice to be in the hands of Virtue; a hundred years will be required to work such a miracle. Be sure that no princess can have anything comparable with this chef d’œuvre, for it is unhappily in human nature to do more for a Pompadour than for a virtuous Queen.’

Pastorelle after Lancret, stick mother of pearl, richly carved, pierced & gilt belonged to an Aunt of Queen Victoria, French. c. 1750. H. R. H. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll.

We learn from Brantôme that Catherine de’ Medicis, who made her first public entry into Paris as queen in 1549, introduced into the French court the Italian feather-fans, in general use in Italy at that Pg 145period; these being made and sold by the perfumers who came in the queen’s retinue. In a half-length engraved portrait in the British Museum, the queen bears a plumed fan with an elaborately ornamented handle garnished with pearls; in another portrait, a plumed fan with a mirror in the centre. Brantôme records that, upon the untimely death of the king, her husband, Catherine caused to be put round her device98 broken fans, with the feathers falling to pieces and the mirror cracked;99 this in token of having abandoned worldly frivolities. In a small oval engraved portrait in the British Museum collection, this broken fan motif is introduced as forming a diapered border; the fans alternated with twisted cords and scythes.

It is not until the reign of Henry III., that we find the first authentic evidence of the use of l’éventail plissé; fans were then much in fashion, and, says Henri Estienne, ‘were held so much in esteem, that, now the winter is come, the ladies cannot give them up, but having used them in summer to cool themselves against the heat of the sun, they make them serve in winter against the heat of the fire.’100

Pierre de l’Estoile, in his Isle des Hermaphrodites, 1588, gives us a detailed account of the fan used by this effeminate monarch, evidently some form of cockade, ‘expanding and folding merely by a turn of the fingers.’ It was sufficiently large to be used also as a parasol, and served therefore the double purpose of cooling the air, and preserving the delicate complexion of the king.

The material was vellum, cut as delicately as possible, with lace around of similar stuff.101 ‘I could see in the other chambers,’ continues Pg 146this author, ‘fans of the same material, or of taffetas, with borders of gold and silver lace.’

This art of elaborate cutting, in vellum, paper, and other material, was, as a matter of fact, a favourite pastime of the period; it is said to have been indulged in by the king himself, and it may be taken that this method of découpé, or découpé in association with other forms of ornamentation, was employed in a large number of the fans of this epoch, both of the cockade and semicircular form.

Of this latter type, now beginning to be the vogue, the Actæon fan in the Musée de Cluny is one of the earliest known examples. The leaf is of parchment, cut in a series of slits through which the ten sticks, shaped to an ornamental profile, are inserted. The vellum around the sticks is painted to the shape of arrows; the spaces between are cut away, to allow of the insertion of strips of mica, upon which are painted devices representing Actæon, his hounds, a stag, a swan, etc. The general character of the ornamentation is that of the earlier French Renaissance; the date, c. 1580.

The fan industry in France had become of such importance under Henry IV., that it was necessary to regulate it by statute; certain concessions were therefore granted in December 1594 to the several bodies of craftsmen engaged in the art of fan-making. These were confirmed, and fresh regulations added, towards 1664.

On a petition presented to Louis XIV. in 1673 by the master fan-makers to the number of sixty, they were constituted a corporate body by the edict of March 23rd of that year, and their privileges further strengthened by edicts of December 1676 and January and February 1678. These ordained that the company should be ruled by four jurors, two of whom were re-nominated every year in September in an assembly at which every master could assist irrespectively. No one could be a master without having served four years’ apprenticeship and having produced Pg 147a chef-d’œuvre. Nevertheless, the sons of a master were exempt from the chef-d’œuvre as well as the members who married the widows or daughters of masters. The widows enjoyed the privileges of their departed husbands so long as they remained single. They could not, however, engage new apprentices. The entrance fee was fixed at four hundred livres.

Cut Vellum Fan with insertions of mica, painted with subjects of Actæon, &.c. ivory stick, French, end of XVI. century.
Photo by J. Leroy
Musée de Cluny.

In 1753, the period of the highest development of the industry, there were no less than one hundred and fifty master fan-makers in Paris, and from a rare book (Journal du Citoyen), published at the Hague in 1754, we learn the prices usually obtained: Wooden fans (les éventails de bois de palissandre), 6 to 18 livres a dozen; fans in gilt wood (bois d’or), 9 to 36 livres a dozen; those partly of wood and partly of ivory (les maistres brins en yvoire et la gorge en os), 24 to 72 livres a dozen. Ivory fans, 48 to 60 livres a dozen; others more elaborate sold for 30 or 40 pistoles apiece.

The fan-makers were united with the wood-polishers and lute-makers by the edict of August 11th, 1776, as was also the painting, carving, and varnishing relative to these crafts.

The proportions of the folded fan have varied considerably at different periods, in obedience to the caprices of fashion, and this, together with other features, is a general indication as to date. An attempt is here made, by means of a series of diagrams, to formulate, from well-authenticated examples, a system of development; but this can only be accepted in a general way, since during most periods, and especially during the eighteenth century, many exceptions to this rule might be cited.

During the last half of the sixteenth century, doubtless, the general proportion of the fan was that of a fourth of a circle. Alex. Fabri, 1593, gives the costume of the French ladies of his time and of older date, and observes that these ladies held fans of a quarter circle plissés. Vecellio, 1600, gives fans of a similar proportion. These were both brisé and leaf; the fans ofPg 148 Ferrara, decorated with mica insertion, were also of this shape. At this same period, fans were also made of a slightly extended width, the Actæon fan of Cluny being an example.

1550 1550-1620 1620-1650
1660-1700 1680-1740
1720-1760 1780

The width was gradually extended during the first half of the seventeenth century, until, at the close of the reign of Louis XIII., it had attained almost a full semicircle, the engraved fans of Abraham Bosse being authentic instances.

During the reign of the Grand Monarque the mount is deep, the shoulder, as a consequence, low; the fan, after a slight reduction, again opening out to a full semicircle. The blades, which in the first half of the seventeenth century varied in France from four to eighteen, had increased Pg 149by the end of the century to twenty-four or twenty-six, the number again falling to between eighteen to twenty-one by the middle of the succeeding century. During the reign of Louis XV. the width of the fan was lessened, being reduced to one-third of a circle, the shoulder being raised about 1720, thus leaving less space for the mount, the blades numbering eighteen to twenty-two.

Cephalus & Aurora, French. Mrs Bischoffsheim.
‘Vernis Martin.’ Mrs F. R. Palmer.

In the succeeding reign (Louis XVI.) the fan once again unfolded itself to a full semicircle; the blades were either straight and narrow, the incrustations of a correspondingly reticent character, or very broad, showing no space between, the decorations extremely ornate; their number in either instance varying from twelve to sixteen or eighteen.

The above scale of proportion is, however, by no means absolute; we have fans with high shoulders, and correspondingly shallow mounts during the period of Louis XIV.; we also have, during the same period, fans which open out only to the third of a circle.

The size of the folding-fan has also been subject to many variations. From the period of its introduction it increased under Louis XIV., fluctuated to the middle of the eighteenth century, and gradually lessened its proportions to the period of the Revolution and First Empire.

In 1729 the Duc de Richelieu writes: ‘Small fans have quite gone out, and the newest are bigger than ever. Ladies are now never without them, summer or winter.’ From the Mercure de France, October 1730, we learn that ‘Many fans are of a very considerable price and excessively large, so that some little folks are not quite twice the height of their own fans, a circumstance which ought to fill with a due sense of respect the light and playful cavaliers.’ This continued during the hoop period or second blossoming of the whalebone petticoat, when the fan, not to be outdone, assumed similar vast proportions, and again dwindled to such an extent that it acquired the name of ‘imperceptible.’

Another important consideration in determining the date of a fan isPg 150 in the fact that the sticks, being of a more enduring substance than the mount, have often been remounted with paintings of a later date;102 the careful collector will, therefore, in selecting a specimen, consider the fan in all its various characteristics—the style of the painting, and the general character of its ornamentation.

Mr. S. Redgrave, in his catalogue of the fans exhibited at South Kensington in 1870, refers to the difficulty in assigning fans to the country to which their manufacture might be most correctly attributed: ‘Workmen of one country have been tempted to another; Chinese carvers brought to Europe; parts of fans in which a particular country has excelled have been imported to another, and used with its native manufacture. In all cases, novel taste, approved by fashion, has never failed to become the object of universal imitation.’

The art of painting during the reign of Louis XIII. began to play a more important part in the decoration of fans; the subject, in the few examples existing of this epoch, being usually enclosed in a florid cartouche with festoons of fruit, flowers, amorini, etc., as in the three engraved examples by Abraham Bosse, who was working in Paris at this period. Indeed it is extremely probable that the publication of these fans strongly influenced the character of the decoration of fan mounts; it is more than possible that Bosse himself painted fans, since he was painter as well as engraver, although his pictures are extremely rare. The label, ‘Éventails de Bosse,’ appearing on the box handed by the merchant to the lady in the engraving ‘La Galerie du Palais,’ may quite conceivably refer to painted as well as engraved fans.

Pastorelle, with two portrait medallions, mount paper, stick mother of pearl, finely carved with medallions &c. gilt. French. c. 1780. Wyatt Colln. V. & A. Museum.

La Galerie du Palais, besides forming the subject of Bosse’s engraving, supplied Corneille with the motif of one of his comedies produced in 1634. ‘La Galerie’ was situated in the midst of the city, beside the Palais de Pg 151Justice, between the two branches of the Seine, and had become, at the close of the reign of Henry IV., a ‘lively and animated centre.’

In the latter years of the reign of Louis XIII. it was, as we learn from the explanatory verses at the foot of Bosse’s engraving, as also from Corneille’s comedy, a place of rendezvous for, and assignations with, the beau-monde.

‘Icy faisant semblant d’acheter devant tous
Des gands, des Éventails, du ruban, des danteles;
Les adroits Courtisans se donnent rendez-vous,
Et pour se faire aimer, gallantisent les Belles.’

It was furnished with wooden shops in which were arranged objets de luxe, new fashions, chefs-d’œuvres of industry, laces, and jewellery.

The engraving shows a mercer’s shop with a cavalier and lady examining fans, these objects being also exposed to view in the window. We have here a genuine bit of old Paris of the time of Louis XIII., and thus obtain a clear idea of what the Paris fan shops were like at this epoch.

Fans had, indeed, at this period obtained a firm hold upon the affections of the fair, though not so firm as to preclude the possibility of a powerful rival. The witty author of the lines appended to Bosse’s engraving of Summer, in the circular composition of the four seasons, a lady with a fan, accompanied by a Cupid bearing a parasol, suggests that the love-god himself would be a better substitute for the fan, not only for cooling the heated cheek, but also to assuage the fire that burns within.

‘Qu’n éventail dans la chaleur
Semble oster de cette couleur
Dont vôtre teint rougit encore;
Vous ressemblez presque a l’aurore
A cause de cette rougeur
Mais dans cette simple douleur
Qui semble afliger vôtre cœur
Est-ce tout ce qui vous honore
Qu’n éventail?
Pg 152 Changez viste vôtre maleur
Et sans me crére caioleur
Aimable Phylis que j’adore
Croiez, qu’au feu qui vous deuore
Un hom̃e vous servit meilleur
Qu’n éventail.’

Authenticated examples of Louis XIII. fans are exceedingly rare. In the Jubinal collection at Paris is a superb fan painted on skin, representing the king playing blind-man’s buff with the four quarters of the globe. This is designed upon the same principle as the three engraved fans of Bosse above referred to, i.e. the subject enclosed in a large and elaborate cartouche, filling the whole field of the fan, a system of decoration which lasted well into the reign of Louis XIV.

The Countess de Beaussier exhibited at South Kensington, in 1870, a mount of vellum painted with a large medallion or cartouche in the centre, of lords and ladies of the court of France joining in a dance in a park, the border enriched with coloured ornament in the style of the period.

During the earlier part of the reign of Louis XIII., Anne of Austria, his queen, introduced many Spanish fashions into France, amongst them being fans.

It is recorded of this princess that, during a conference with Richelieu, some kittens amused themselves with the ribbons of her fan which had been left on a table in the antechamber; from this circumstance the ribbons acquired the name of Badins (playful).103

It was from a similar light incident that, later, at the time of the unpopularity of Mazarin, the fan became a means of expressing political intrigue. Straw was adopted as the rallying sign of the Frondeurs, who, after the victory in Paris, wore it in their hats and button-holes.

Pg 153

‘If without straw a man was seen,
Strike him down! was the general scream,
For ‘tis but a dog of a Mazarine.’

A great crowd was applauding the king and princess in the great allée, and crying out against Mazarin. Mademoiselle had appeared holding a fan as she walked, to which was attached a bouquet of straw bound with blue ribbon.

Hector & Andromache, after Coypel, French, gouache on skin stick ivory finely carved with an eastern subject, guards set with plaques of agate, & paste jewels; a watch at rivet. The Dowager Marchioness of Bristol.

Straw also formed part of the decoration of fans, both at this period and later. The pattern of leaves, flowers, fruits, or conventional ornament, was cut in various coloured straws and applied. The handsome fan in the possession of Lady Bristol, with the subject of Hector and Andromache, after Antoine Coypel, belonging, however, to a later period, is decorated at the sides with coloured straw-work. This material was even employed in the decoration of the stick in the form of inlay upon ivory and other substance; an example occurs in the collection of Mr. L. C. R. Messel. This also of a much later period.

D’Alembert, in his Réflexions et Anecdotes sur la Reine de Suède, recounts how the irascible, fierce, and railing daughter of Gustavus Adolphus found herself at the court of Louis XIV., when the fashion of fans was general (1656-1657). Consulted by a fair Frenchwoman as to whether she should ply her fan even during the winds of winter, Christina replied that the lady might fan herself or not, as she pleased; either way she would be a straw blown about by the wind. Upon this, the court dames, nettled at the rude reply of the haughty mistress of Monaldeschi, one and all armed themselves with fans, and waved them furiously whenever the queen was present, by way of exhibiting a wholesome French contempt for northern barbarism.104

Pg 154

This circumstance led to the adoption of fans of a richer and more ornate description. Fashion hastened to make the toy worthy of figuring in grand adornment; the ordinary wood of the stick was replaced by other supports of a more precious material, with incrustations of gold, silver, enamel, and jewels. More capable artists were employed for the execution of the mounts; the éventaillistes learnt from the Italians to derive their inspiration from the great masters of their school. The decoration of the fan-leaves, therefore, acquired something of the suavity, graciousness, and courtliness associated with the work of the painters of the Grand Siècle.

It was, doubtless, some such fan, some enchanting reminiscence of the dainty ‘putti’ of Poussin, that Madame de Sévigné sent to her daughter, Madame de Grignan.—‘The Chevalier de Buous brings you a fan, which I think very pretty: they are not little loves upon it, for without doubt they are little chimney-sweeps, the most charming little sweeps in the world.’105

Two fans are known of the beginning of the reign of the Grand Monarque. One, of which only the feuille is preserved, is in the possession of Mr. J. G. Rosenberg, of Karlsruhe, the other in the Schreiber collection, British Museum. The former is painted in gouache on swan skin, and represents the signing of the marriage contract between Louis XIV. and Maria Theresa, which event took place at St. Jean de Luz on the Spanish frontier in 1660. The king and queen are seated before a table in the centre, the courtiers standing in a semicircle, the men in their fur-trimmed robes, the ladies all bearing fans; an official in the foreground is reading aloud the marriage contract. The pattern of the carpet is seized upon as a decorative motif, and forms a diapered groundwork to the composition after the manner of the earlier miniaturists. This truly magnificent mount betrays no evidence of the Italian influence; no suggestion of ‘le premier peintre du Roi,’106 but entirely reminiscent Pg 155of the great traditional French style. It is, moreover, an original production, rather than, as is the case of so many fan leaves, a mere transcription of the work of the greater artists.

Battoir Fan, leaf paper, painted with medallions referring to the marriage of the Dauphin with Maria Theresa of Spain, stick & guards ivory finely carved & gilt, bearing the fleurs-de-lys of France & arms of Navarre. 18-1/2 × 9-1/2. The Dowager Marchioness of Bristol.

In the Schreiber fan leaf, the king and queen are seated under a canopy, a Cupid above bearing a rose garland and palm branch. The ladies of the court, all holding fans, are seated around in a semicircle, and on the right Cupids prepare the nuptial couch. This leaf, which has been much repainted, is in gouache on paper, with gilding in places; it has been removed from the mount and pasted on an oak panel.

On a later fan, the king is represented as Phœbus descending from his chariot, holding in his hand the mirror of truth to the assembled court beauties, on whose countenances fear, alarm, and doubt appear. A figure on the right (Louise de la Vallière) opens her arms eagerly to receive him.

The king also appears as Endymion sleeping on Mount Latmos. La Vallière, in the character of Diana, is alighting from her chariot and contemplating the beautiful shepherd. A figure of Spring scatters flowers. In the background two attendants of the goddess; c. 1660.

Mr. Robert Walker in his sale catalogue (1882) suggests that these two fans, the sticks of which have perished and have been replaced by those of old English workmanship, were painted for the Duchess de la Vallière in the early time of her attendance at the court of Anne of Austria. She is said to have formed a real and virtuous attachment to the king.

A fan mount in the Schreiber collection, also belonging to the earlier years of the reign of Louis XIV., has for its subject the ‘Lovers’ Agency Bureau.’ In the midst of a semicircular temple, on an island surrounded by a flowered border, is a golden statue of Cupid seated upon a globe, bearing a banner inscribed, ‘L’Amour Avec ces traits Veut blesser tout Le monde. Je Reigne dans les sieux Sur la terre et Sur londe.’ Cupids are seated at a table covered with green cloth, serving amorous couplesPg 156 with tablets inscribed, ‘Congé Pour Un Amant Constant: Congé Pour Un Fidelle’; ‘Congé pour La Belle Iris.’ In front of the table a Cupid is seated on a large crimson cushion, holding a scroll inscribed, ‘Le Directeur Du Bureau D’amour.’ Two figures are kneeling at the end of the table, the one holding a purse, the other a scroll inscribed, ‘Contract De Constitution De Rente.’ In the foreground on either side are couples who have married for money—a young man holding a purse is accompanied by an elderly woman, and an old man who supports himself on a crutch, accompanied by a young woman, is carrying a box labelled ‘Bijouteri’; in both instances a Cupid follows them with a rod for punishment. Around the island are moored ships with banners inscribed, ‘Vous qui cherchez D’un Amoureux Desir,’ etc.

The fan leaf has been pasted on an oval panel and repainted to complete the shape.

The fine varnish, celebrated in the verse of Voltaire,107 which has become associated with the name of Martin, was not, properly speaking, a new invention, but rather a fresh application of an old method. Attempts had been made during the reign of Louis XIV. to imitate the lacquers of Japan, and the process was first applied to furniture. In an inventory of the effects of Molière we read of a ‘small cabinet with Chinese varnish,’ and of ‘two dice-boxes of wood, varnished after the Chinese fashion.’ This was the period when the artistic products of the East were so much exercising the minds of European craftsmen, as a consequence of the opening up of China and Japan to western traders.

The four brothers Martin, William, Simon-Étienne, Julien, and Robert, coach-painters, sons of a tailor of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, in applying themselves to the task of imitating the processes of Oriental Pg 157lacquer, by a fortunate accident developed a method admirably suited to the decoration of fans, which, in spite of many attempts to imitate, has never since been rivalled.

Fête Champêtre, ‘Vernis Martin’ c.1730. Wyatt Colln., V. & A. Museum.

Two concessions were obtained—those of November 27, 1730, and February 18, 1744, permitting the elder Martin, for the space of twenty years, to execute all sorts of works in relief after the manner of the Chinese and Japanese.

An advertisement in Le Mercure, which appeared during the year 1724, recommends to the curious the fine productions in Chinese and Japanese varnish, of this ‘excellent and unique craftsman who imitates and often surpasses his models.’108 In 1732 a fresh announcement is made in the same journal to the effect that ‘Le Sieur Martin the elder, who may be said to have considerably enriched the beaux-arts in Europe by imitating and even surpassing in many respects the beautiful varnishes and reliefs of China and Japan, gives notice to the public that he undertakes panels, friezes, ceilings, carriages, etc., in splendid varnishings.’

This varnish, with its brilliant translucency, and its remarkable immunity from cracking, was applied over painting done in the ordinary oil method, the painting being necessarily thin, almost to transparency, the material of the fan usually ivory. The decoration consists of either a single subject covering the whole field of the fan, or a system of one, three, or many cartouches, occasionally as many as twenty miniatures, enclosed in an ornamental setting, made up of a curious mixture of Chinese diapered patterns, semi-naturalistic semi-Persian ornament, Italian arabesques, and French ornament of the character with which we are familiar in Rouen ware.

The guards are in most instances decorated with miniatures, usually two superior and two inferior, divided by ornamental borders or

Pg 158

arabesques. On the handle end of the fan, i.e. the smaller semicircle, are either one, three, or more miniatures, often imitation Chinese subjects: these, in some instances, are in self-colour, as pink, red, or blue. The gilding is both in leaf and painted, usually worked over with a pattern in red or brown.

The figure-painting is in no instance by a master-hand, i.e. by an artist of the first calibre, but by skilled workmen, or artificers, deriving their inspiration from outside sources.

The subjects with which these fans were decorated embrace every class. Thus we have representations of ancient history, both sacred and profane, subjects which recorded important current events, subjects fanciful of almost every description.

That of the ‘Rape of Helen’ occurs often; the fine fan in the possession of Mr. J. G. Rosenberg of Karlsruhe has this subject for its principal medallion, the style recalling Le Brun, with sixteen smaller subjects from classic mythology, these divided by a gold band. Also in the beautiful example in the possession of Lady Lindsay this same subject is treated, though in a very different manner. (Illustrated facing p. 30.)

In the cabinet of Madame Riant is the ‘Judgment of Paris,’ the subject en cartouche, with smaller cartouches in the Chinese taste.

Probably one of the earliest of these ‘Vernis Martin’ fans (ivory brisé fans had been painted earlier, during the latter part of the seventeenth century) is the bridal-fan of the Duchess of Burgundy, Adelaide of Savoy, mother of Louis XV. The subject represents the fêtes at Versailles on the occasion of the marriage of the grandson of Louis XIV. in 1709. On the obverse the bride appears seated upon a dais with attendants bearing floral offerings. In the centre the king dances a minuet with Madame de Maintenon, ‘ma tante,’ as the dauphin endearingly called her. Other dancing figures, musicians, etc., complete the composition, which is enPg 159closed in a large cartouche of fruits, masks, instruments, etc.; on the field of the fan are representations of country life.

The Rape of Helen, ‘Vernis Martin’, c. 1745. Lady Northcliffe.

On the lower semicircle, en cartouche, the bride again appears playing a guitar, the remaining space being occupied by subjects of a Chinese character. On the reverse we have a representation of the fêtes in the palace gardens, with scenes from the life of the prince—as pupil of Fénelon, and as lover; miniatures of the prince and princess appear on the panaches. This important fan has been attributed to the pencil of Watteau, but with small grounds, being quite unlike the character of Watteau’s work except in the type of some of the figures represented.

The example which formed part of the royal collection at Windsor Castle is so well known that it scarcely needs description here. It consists of a large number of cartouches of classical and pastoral subjects divided by gold borderings. It formerly belonged to Marie-Antoinette, and was procured for Her Majesty Queen Victoria by the Queen of the Belgians.

The fan representing the ‘Toilette of Madame la Marquise de Montespan,’ and ‘the Promenade,’ in the possession of the Countess Duchâtel, has become historic. It was sent by Madame de Sévigné to her daughter, Madame de Grignan, and is thus referred to in her 149th letter: ‘My fan has then become most useful, doubtless. Do you not think it beautiful? Alas, what a bagatelle! You would not take away from me this small pleasure when occasion presents itself—you would thank me for that pleasure, although it is a mere nothing.’

We are enabled, by the courtesy of Mr. Leopold de Rothschild, to illustrate (facing p. 142) one of the best-preserved examples of this interesting type of fan. The subject represents a company of musicians in a garden, with trellised background and fountain; on the lower cartouche a classical landscape; on the panaches are figures of Harlequin, Pierrot, etc., the ornamental portions being painted with the most minute finish.

Pg 160

Upon the death of the elder Martin in 1749, his widow associated herself with her brother-in-law, Julien Martin, who was acquainted with the secrets of this varnish and method. The studio at the entrance to the Faubourg Saint-Denis, therefore, did not cease to prosper, and production went on until 1758. This at least we learn of the engraver Pasquier, and it seems to us that the most successful varnishes are the earliest in date—those which appear to have been produced 1720-1745.109

The foregoing quotation refers to Martin’s productions generally, but is equally applicable to the fan, and it is probable that although a few isolated examples of these delicate objects may have been produced during the latter years of the reign of Louis XIV., production did not become very general until later in the lifetime of Martin the elder, who subsequently received the title of ‘Vernisseur du roi.’

The question as to whether the brothers Martin themselves painted their fans, or to what extent they were indebted to outside assistance, opens up an interesting field of inquiry. The order of their production, also, presents considerable difficulties. In some cases, as that of the bridal-fan of the Duke of Burgundy, the event itself determines the date; in the majority of instances, however, the subject affords no clue, and any conclusions formed are necessarily more or less speculative and problematical. The natural order of decorative development is from simplicity to complexity in both arrangement and detail; it is therefore reasonable to assume that the earlier examples are those displaying a certain severity and reticence of style and method, and a simple arrangement of either one or but few subjects, and that the later fans are those exhibiting a profusion of medallions of various sizes, divided by gold bands. The variety in the style, manner, and handling, of the subjects depicted on these fans, to say nothing of the number extant, of itself disposes of the theory that they were all the work of the brothers, but in any case they must be credited Pg 161with the original conception of a style and method of decoration which, although it will scarcely bear searching analysis if judged from the standpoint of strict decorative principles, is fresh, piquant, and unique.

Belshazzar’s Feast, ‘Vernis Martin.’ Metropolitan Museum, New York.

To return to pleated fans. In the Franks collection appeared an example with the leaf of paper finely painted in gouache, with the betrothal of Louis XV. with Marie Leczinska, and on the reverse a pastoral scene. The brins and panaches are of white pearl, richly ornamented with carved medallions of figures, portraits, heraldry, and scroll-work in different coloured gold foils. This fan belonged to Marie, queen of Louis XV.

The bridal-fan of Marie Leczinska has a skin mount, the subject representing the king and his bride elect, attended by Cardinal Fleury in lay habit, bringing offerings of flowers to the altar of Hymen; a dog (emblem of fidelity) sits beside the king. In the foreground on either side are groups in rural character; on the reverse, which is of paper, is a pastorelle in which the royal couple again appear. The brins and panaches are of mother-of-pearl, richly carved with a centre medallion representing the queen as Venus descending from her chariot, receiving the homage of Mars. Cupids, heraldic devices, fleurs de lys, and a small medallion of Louis XIV. complete the design, which is enriched with variegated gilding.

The symbolical marriage of Louis XV. with Marie Leczinska on Mount Olympus is depicted on a fine mount of vellum in the possession of M. Voisin, with portraits of the king and princess surrounded by Genii; figures of Jupiter, Juno, and Apollo en cartouche, musicians, etc., in rose camaïeu, surrounded by the arms of France and Poland; the reverse, a figure subject in blue camaïeu on silver ground. Stick, ‘Vernis Martin’ on ivory; guards, incrustations of mother-of-pearl.

The fan in the collection of the Dowager-Marchioness of Bristol refers to the improvements made in Paris during the reign of Louis XV.; itPg 162 shows in the distance the fine square (Place de Louis XV.) which adjoined the Palace of the Tuileries, with the bronze equestrian statue of the king on a pedestal supported by four statues representing Strength, Peace, Prudence, and Justice. The group, destroyed during the Revolution, gave occasion to the following epigram:

‘O la belle Statue! O le beau piédestal!
Les vertus sont à pied, le vice est à cheval!’

The king, attended by Minerva, who holds her ægis over his head, is giving directions as to the building to a kneeling figure whose cloak and shield are ornamented with the fleurs de lys of France. A seated winged genius is holding a large open book, Cupids are playing musical instruments and supporting a trophy of arms and a medallion portrait of Louis XIV. The square will remain for ever memorable as the scene of the execution of Louis XVI. It was renamed Place de la Révolution.

The stick is of ivory, carved with allegorical subjects, variegated gold enrichments, the imbricated ornament painted blue, the guards inlaid with mother-of-pearl; on the reverse a tent, with soldiers drinking and smoking at a table. Jewelled pin.

Of the fans referring to the courtship and marriage of the dauphin (son of Louis XV.) we have the royal courtships in two medallions on either side of the sun in full splendour (emblem of the king), decorated with spangles; the mount of skin, the stick ivory, carved in open work with appropriate figures.

In the centre cartouche of another fan, similar in treatment and evidently by the same hand, the dauphin and dauphine bring floral offerings to Hymen, the field of the fan being occupied by two smaller medallions of Cupids, miniatures of the royal pair, and marriage emblems at intervals, the cartouches connected by spangles; the stick ivory, carved in open work with figures emblematic of the marriage.

Building of the Place Louis XV. The Dowager Marchioness of Bristol.
Dido & Æneas, Louis XV, gouache on skin, stick mother of pearl carved à jour, painted & gilt, 22-1/2 x 11-1/2. Mrs Bischoffsheim.
Dido & Æneas. (reverse) Mrs Bischoffsheim.

The marriage of the dauphin with Maria Theresa of Spain (1745), or his Pg 163second wife, Princess Maria Josephe de Saxe, is recorded on a magnificent mount representing the interior of a chapel, with the bride and bridegroom on a raised dais, a cardinal performing the ceremony. These three fans appeared in the Walker sale of 1882.

The Battoir fan (illustrated facing p. 154) would appear to refer to this Spanish marriage; it is certainly a marriage fan. The feuille of paper is decorated with eight variously shaped medallions. In the centre the bride, who bears a sufficient resemblance to the engraved portraits of Maria Theresa, is taking tea; also a heart-shaped composition with two figures kneeling at the altar of Love, Father Time in the distance; a lover offering a bouquet to a lady, etc. The admirably designed stick and guards are of ivory, carved and gilt, decorated with emblematic figures, amorini, trophies of musical instruments, etc., bearing the fleurs de lys of France and the arms of Spain.

The magnificent fan in the possession of Mrs. Bischoffsheim reflects the general interest taken in the classics during the earlier part of the eighteenth century. Dryden’s English translation of Virgil was given to the world in 1697, and the Latin edition of P. Masvicius, Leovardiae, 1717, contained the commentaries of Servius, Philargyrius, and Pierius. The fan belongs to the earlier years of the reign of Louis XV., and illustrates the story unfolded in the first book of the Æneid. On the reverse the storm raised by Æolus at the bidding of Juno, a rock in the foreground being inscribed ‘Naufrage d’Énée’: and the meeting of Venus and Æneas. On the obverse the banquet:

‘Embroidered coverlets
Are laid, and gorgeous purple; and the boards
Groan with the massive silver.’

The love-god, in the guise of the boy Ascanius, is presented to Dido:

He—after he has clasped Æneas’ neck
In fond embrace, and so has satisfied
Pg 164 The doating love of his pretended sire—
Turns to the Queen. Her eyes and all her soul
She fixes on him; yea, and in her lap
At times she fondles him—unhappy Dido—
Not knowing how great a god is nestling there!’110

The so-called ‘Cabriolet’ fan, introduced during the reign of Louis XV., represents a new and interesting development. In this the mount is divided into two parts, superior and inferior, the latter being half-way up the stick, the former in its usual place at the top; the intervening space imparting a lightness and richness to the fan not obtainable by other means, the mount still affording a sufficiency of space for decoration on a less extended scale. This usually consists of Parisian scenes—persons driving in cabriolets, or promenading, either painted or engraved as the case may be, since both processes were adopted.

The cabriolet, introduced by Josiah Child in 1755, was a light two-wheeled carriage which obtained great popularity in Paris. Horace Walpole, writing to his friend Mann in the same year, says:

‘All we hear from France is, that a new madcap reigns there, as strong as that of Pantins was.111 This is la fureur de cabriolets, Anglicè one-horse chairs, a mode introduced by Mr. Child. Everything is to be en cabriolet; the men paint them on their waistcoats, have them embroidered for clocks to their stockings, and the women, who have gone all the winter without anything on their heads, are now muffled up in great caps, with round sides, in the form of, and scarce less than, the wheels of chaises.’

Two varieties of these rare fans appear in different collections; a larger and richer fan measuring some twenty inches and opening out to a little more than a third of a circle, the sticks numbering twenty-one, including the panaches; another about an inch smaller, with less carving on the sticks, and made at a later date.

‘Cabriolet’ Fan, stick ivory, painted, leaf paper. Lady Northcliffe.
‘Cabriolet’ Fan, stick ivory, finely carved, painted & gilt. The Dowager Marchioness of Bristol.
‘Cabriolet’ Fan, stick ivory, carved and painted. The Dowager Marchioness of Bristol.

Pg 165

The fine example illustrated from the collection of Lady Bristol has nine cabriolets, two on the larger and three on the smaller paper mounts, two on the brins, and two on the panaches. The upper portion of the ivory stick is carved with three series of three figures enclosed in an ornamental setting, and one on each panache, with ‘goldfish’ inlay. The lower portion has two large cartouches of figure subjects also with ‘goldfish’ inlay, and a smaller one painted, the whole of the stick elaborately painted and gilt. A similar fan is in the possession of the Comtesse de Chambrun, Paris, and was exhibited at South Kensington in 1870.

Two examples of the smaller variety are given from the collections of Lady Northcliffe and Lady Bristol, similar in general character, but presenting slight differences in detail. On each of these fans only one cabriolet appears, painted decoration taking the place of the rich carving and gilding on the stick of the larger fan.

Towards the end of the reign of Louis XV. the fan industry suffered a temporary relapse: the fashion for the cheaper printed fans, and also for the importations from the East, spread even to the aristocrats. We read of a fashionable jeweller at this period undertaking to supply to La Pompadour a dozen fans direct from Nankin for the insignificant sum of seventy-two livres. An interesting design for a fan in the Hennin collection (Bibliothèque Nationale) is probably intended as an effort to revive interest in the more expensive fans,112 and is inscribed, ‘Combat du terrible torreau représenté par des enfants en présence de Sa Majesté Louis XV., roi de France et de Navarre.’ This was a spectacle devised for the king’s amusement in 1760. In an enclosure, a bull-fight, in which the actors are children, is taking place before a large concourse of spectators, including the king and queen; on the left are trumpeters and other figures, on the right is a figure holding three hounds in leash.

Pg 166

La Pompadour is glorified on a skin mount in the collection of Mrs. Bruce Johnston; the subject being ‘hommages’ offered by Church, State, Literature, Art and Music at the altar of madame, who appears as Venus seated on a raised throne in the centre of the composition, her car and doves in the background. A Cupid strikes at her bosom with his arrow, others dance to the music of a mandoline, while another, crowned with a laurel wreath, rides on the back of the French Eagle. This was probably painted by one of the numerous artists employed by madame, and never mounted. (Illustrated facing p. 6.)

The story of Rinaldo and Armida supplied the subject of many fans produced during the century. Handel’s opera Rinaldo was first produced in London, February 24, 1711. It was staged in the most sumptuous manner, the gardens of Armida being filled with live birds, a piece of stage realism hardly to be surpassed even in these days: it had, however, little vogue on the Continent. Gluck’s Armide, which appeared in 1777, fared better, the composer being then in the height of his popularity, and, moreover, under the powerful protection of his former pupil, Marie-Antoinette, who, upon the success of Orphée, granted him a pension of six thousand francs, and a like sum for every fresh work he should produce on the French stage.

The charming fan, here illustrated, by the gracious permission of H.R.H. the Princess of Wales, is anterior to the date of the production of Gluck’s opera, and is one of the best of the numerous versions of the subject. It was given by King William IV. to Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, and left by her to her granddaughter, Victoria Mary, Princess of Wales. (Frontispiece.)

In Miss Moss’s fan, also illustrated, the stick is of ivory carved à jour, and painted with a cartouche in the centre, of Neptune, Venus, and Cupid.

Wedding Fan, silk leaf, painted with medallions, spangled ornaments. Ivory stick richly carved, with subject of the Alter of Hymen &c. The Countess of Bradford.
Wedding Fan, satin mount, painted with medallions, spangled, ivory stick, finely carved with marriage emblems &c., ivory miniatures on guards, French, c. 1780. Lady Lindsay.

The fêtes given on the occasion of the marriage of the young dauphin, afterwards Louis XVI., with Marie-Antoinette, are recorded Pg 167on a fan in the Wyatt collection, in the centre of which are shown the illuminations with fireworks, a scroll inscribed, ‘Vive la France, l’empire, et tous leurs alliés à jamais’; above is inscribed, ‘Feu d’artifice de Mr. L’ambassadeur Exécuté le 10 Juin 1770 par le Sr. Torre Artificier du Roi.’ On the left is a street scene with a band of musicians and spectators; on the right, four figures viewing the illuminations. A cartouche on the right is inscribed, ‘Fêtes Publiques à l’occasion du mariage de Mr. le Dauphin.’ The mount is of paper, the stick and guards ivory, pierced gilt, and inlaid with mother-of-pearl. (Illustrated facing p. 180.)

An allegory of this marriage appears as the subject of a fan that formed part of an important collection of a deceased Parisian lady, Madame X., sold at the Hôtel Drouot, April 1897. In this the stick is mother-of-pearl, carved with reliefs, gilt, and the arms of France and Austria. The leaf is in gouache on skin, with medallions of the royal pair, alternated with others emblematic of the Fine Arts.

Another bridal-fan of Marie-Antoinette has on the obverse an allegorical composition, in which the dauphine, enthroned upon a cloud, is about to sign the marriage contract which Cupid lays before her, while Hymen hovers above: on the left, the Graces weave garlands of roses; on the right, Midas and Discordia are banished to the regions of obscurity.

On the reverse, Louis and his young bride appear walking in a wood, guided by Cupid, blind, and bearing a torch. Both these subjects have been attributed to Fragonard; they are, however, most certainly by two different hands. The stick is mother-of-pearl, carved à jour, with figures of the royal couple, cupids, and other appropriate emblems.

The custom of presenting fans on the occasion of a wedding was universal, and surely no more acceptable offering than a fan could be made to a bride. The fine fan, illustrated by the kindness of the Countess of Bradford, is typical of a whole class of fans produced duringPg 168 the latter years of the reign of Louis XVI., having silk mounts, with painted medallions, usually one superior, and the other inferior; the borders and intervening spaces decorated with spangles of gold, silver, and colours; the sticks either broad and ornate as in the example given, or narrow; the ornamentation being of a more reticent character.

The principal medallion figures the prospective bride and bridegroom nursing a figure of Love. On the extremely ornate mother-of-pearl stick, lavishly gilt in dead and burnished gold of two colours, the happy pair again appear clasping hands before the altar of Hymen, with an accompaniment of Cupids; on the two inferior cartouches are dancing figures with wreaths, spangling being applied here as on the leaf. The fan appeared at the recent exhibition of Fair Women at the Grafton Galleries, where it attracted much attention.

On the occasion of the birth of the dauphin, (Louis XVII.) in 1785, eleven years after the marriage, the royal pair renew their vows at the altar of Hymen. This on a fan from the unfortunate queen’s collection, which, together with the last mentioned, appeared at the Walker sale in 1882; the mount skin, the stick mother-of-pearl, carved in open with portraits of the queen and the young dauphin.

The fan (brisé) presented by the town of Dieppe to Marie-Antoinette, in celebration of the same event,113 is declared by Balzac to be the handsomest of all historical fans. It is of ivory open work, carved by the famous worker Le Flamand, eulogised by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. The subject, from the design for Vien, premier peintre to Louis XVI., is an episode in the life of Alexander the Great. Porus, an Indian prince, on the eastern bank of the Hydaspes, refused to submit to Alexander, but, defeated and taken prisoner, he was brought into the presence of the conPg 169queror. Asked how he expected to be treated, he boldly replied, ‘As a brave man and a king.’ Alexander, subdued by his foe’s firmness, restored to him his conquered territory.

Fan stick, Ivory, carved with subject of the Assembly of Notables 1787, figures of Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette on panaches.
Photo by A. Girander.
Musée du Louvre.

When the queen was obliged to quit Versailles in 1789, she gave this fan to Madame du Cray, who was keeper of her Majesty’s laces. From Madame du Cray it passed into the possession of her daughter, Madame la Bruyère, who, at her death, bequeathed it to Monsieur de Thiac, by whom it was exhibited at South Kensington in 1870.

The ivory stick—the mount has long since perished, if it ever possessed one—acquired by the Louvre, and formerly in the collection Revoil, in 1828, is said to have been once the property of Marie-Antoinette. The brins carved are with a subject of the king, with the two royal princes on his right hand, receiving a deputation of ministers, the whole enclosed within a florid and meandering cartouche, the background and diapers à jour. On the panaches appear figures of Louis and Marie-Antoinette, above their heads two genii bear the royal crown; on the gorge are medallions of Cupids, with tragic and comic masks.

Here, then, we have two typical examples of the ivory work of the last quarter of the eighteenth century, the best, presumably, that the epoch could produce, since both were executed for the queen.

The last named, last also in the order of production, although it carries picturesque richness of effect to its utmost possible limit, nevertheless represents a worn-out tradition, an art which had become moribund, lifeless, incapable of any fresh effort, repeating the same tiresome platitudes with wearing and monotonous persistency; the former, on the other hand, indicative of the commencement of that regeneration of French art, which, inaugurated by Vien, ultimately resulted in the creation of a school of painting and design, finding, in the vitality of its poetic invention, no parallel in modern Europe, and making its influence felt even to the present day.

Pg 170

The reign of Spartan simplicity of dress commenced early, and was brought about by several causes, the first being the visit to Paris of the American deputies, headed by Benjamin Franklin, 1776-78. Thus Count de Ségur in his ‘Memoirs’: ‘It was as if the sages of Greece and Rome had suddenly appeared; their antique simplicity of dress, their firm and plain demeanour, their free and direct language, formed a contrast to the frivolity, effeminacy, and servile refinements of the French. The tide of fashion and nobility ran after these republicans, and ladies, lords, and men of letters all worshipped them.’

Among other contributory causes was the publication of Saint-Pierre’s novel, Paul et Virginie, in which the heroine is described as being attired in a simple robe of white muslin, with plain straw hat, a picture which instantly captivated the Parisiennes. Moreover, the classic revival which set in about the middle of the century had gathered force, so that by the commencement of the Revolution the time had become ripe for a complete change. While the ladies were attired à la Grec, the gentlemen cropped their hair à la Romain.

The fan followed the prevailing order of things, and affected simplicity. During the period of the Directoire, and the Empire which succeeded, the painted mounts gradually disappeared, their place being taken by those of silk of various colours, ornamented with spangles and similar devices.

The mount of Miss Ethel Birdwood’s fan, an excellent example of the simple type, is most certainly French, obtained in France by the grandparents of Sir George, who were expelled Huguenots, and sent out by them to Canton to be mounted. The stick is admirably in keeping with the reticent character of the mount, and exhibits no trace of the characteristic Oriental vice of excess in ornamental detail.

Directoire Fan, green silk mount, spangled mother of pearl stick carved à jour.

‘Sans Gene’ & Directoire Fans, red silk mounts, sticks ivory and ebony respectively.
Miss Ethel Travers Birdwood.

Mr L. C. R. Messel.
‘Sans Gene’ Fan, leaf green silk with figure of an opera dancer, stick ivory, applied leather on guards.

Empire Fan, leaf red silk with band of net & ornament in gold, silver & spangles, stick ivory, tinted crimson.
Mr L. C. R. Messel.

It was inevitable that a system of decoration so easy of application, and at the same time so effective as spangling, should have an extended Pg 171vogue. The device was first introduced as a framework to pictures or miniatures en cartouche, and as emphasising the leading lines of a design. Gradually a more lavish use of these glistening ornaments was made, until, during the Directoire and Empire periods, spangling formed the chief decorative motif of the design; figures being treated with spangled draperies, the flesh painted. In the Directoire fan illustrated, with Ceres in a chariot drawn by two bullocks, spangling is carried to its utmost limit, the whole subject, figures, animals, chariot, and accessories, being treated with these little gold and silver discs of varying sizes.

This refers to the Fête de l’Agriculture celebrated by the administration of the department of the Seine 10 messidor an VI. (28 June 1798). A lavishly ornamented car drawn by six bullocks, their hoofs and horns gilded, the whole decorated with wreaths of flowers, was accompanied by the Free Trade Society of Agriculture, and the administrators of the Natural History Museum and Veterinary School, carrying agricultural implements, surmounted by a sheaf of corn, over which floated the oriflamme of France; their destination being the Temple dedicated to Cybele in the middle of the grand square of the Champs Élysées.

The ancient form of the chariot, says Blondel, the groups of stationary guards with entwined arms, indicating thereby that those around cultivate and defend the fields, serve equally to represent agriculture to the imagination and the ancient fêtes that fertile Phrygia celebrated in honour of the goddess of Harvests at the foot of Mount Ida. The event was commemorated on a number of fans, both painted in gouache and printed; Blondel figures one in the possession of the heir of Madame Tallien, printed and coloured by hand, erroneously supposing it to refer to this event;114 in this instance also, as in the example illustrated facing p. 136, two bullocks only are represented.

This glorification of Ceres and Cybele led to the general adoption Pg 172of straw for the various articles of costume, following an older fashion. ‘There is nothing but straw in the impoverished dresses of the ladies,’ exclaim MM. de Goncourt in their Société Française pendant le Directoire, echoing a curious vaudeville of the period, ‘mob caps of straw, bonnets of straw, fans of straw, and spangles—nothing is made without spangles.’

‘Paillette aux bonnets,
Aux toquets
Aux petits corsets!
Aux fins bandeaux,
Aux grands chapeaux!
Aux noirs colliers,
Aux blancs souliers!
Paillette aux rubans,
Aux turbans,
On ne voit rien sans

In the ‘Sans Gêne’ fan, with figure of an opera dancer, the dress of the lady is pink gauze. The material of the leaf (green silk) is cut away, leaving the dress semi-transparent in those parts which are not overlaid with spangles.

During the Empire period and later, this system of the introduction of gauze or net was carried further, fans being treated with a broad border of net, and various applied decorations in gold, silver, and spangles, these being the precursors of the fans made entirely of gauze or net, decorated in a similar manner, and in vogue during the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

Lorgnette Fans, ivory, in form of arrows, silvered, two circular horn, with palliettes, semi-circular horn with paillettes. Mr L. C. R. Messel.

Lorgnette or opera-glass fans are evidence of a fashion that obtained Pg 173during the seventeenth and again during the latter half of the eighteenth centuries. M. Blondel quotes from Menagiana as follows:—

‘The fans à jour carried by the women, when they go to Porte Saint-Bernard to take the air on the bank of the river, are called “lorgnettes.”’

A paper called Nécessaire, for 1759, refers to this means of satisfying pardonable curiosity without wounding modesty. A small opera- or spy-glass was set in the chief sticks of the fan, either at the top of the panache, probably the earliest form, or at the rivet. In the former case the whole of the blades were perforated, the fan when opened showing a series of circular perforations round its upper border. The advantage of such an arrangement will be obvious; a fair reveller might see without being seen, and the tell-tale blush be hid. For more distant objects the opera-glass was called into requisition, the fan used either open or closed.

‘Pour cacher la pudeur d’usage
Contre un beau front le papier sert
Et les brins forment un passage
Par où l’œil voyage à couvert.’115

The material was either ivory, horn, or occasionally, in the case of the semicircular folding-fans, gauze, decorated with spangles or embroidered work.

The brisés were made to the semicircular shape, and also to that of the full circle or cockade. In the latter instance the long handle was provided with circular loops, by which the fan might be held in the same manner as a pair of scissors.

The blades assume various shapes, as that of Love’s arrow, the bat’s wing, an umbrella, a snake, a violin, and, when made of horn, were usually decorated with ‘piqué.’

Pg 174

A curious and uncommon lorgnette-fan of the period of Louis XIV., in the possession of Madame Jubinal, is entirely of ivory ‘découpé à jour,’ with appliqués in gelatine imitating mica, forming a transparency through which roguish eyes may see and at the same time be protected as with a curtain. A semicircular lorgnette-fan, of fine design, is seen in the hands of Madame Devauçay, in the portrait by Ingres, collection of M. Frédéric Reiset, painted 1806.

These interesting fans remained in vogue during the first quarter of the nineteenth century and later.

The last stage of the fan during this foolish, frivolous, fascinating eighteenth century was that of a gradual dwindling into nothingness.

Madame de Genlis, in her Dictionary of Etiquette (1818), remarks: ‘When women were timid and blushed, they were accustomed to carry large fans to hide their blushes, serving at once as screen and veil: now that they blush no longer, and are intimidated by nothing, they do not choose to hide their faces, and therefore carry but microscopic fans (éventails imperceptibles).’116

Blondel states that ‘this small degree of fashion continued under the First Empire, when fans, still very small, were for the most part brisés or garnished with taffalas; a few, however, were embellished with steel pearls, like the jewels of Petit Dunkerque.’

Spangled gauze with turtle doves.
Blue & gold, spangled.
Mr L.C.R. Messel. Mauve silk & net, spangled.
lorgnette embroidered gauze.

We have seen how, during the period of the balloon petticoat, the fan, like the frog in the fable, anxious to outdo his big neighbour the ox, swelled—and swelled—and swelled. The consequences were less disastrous in the case of the fan, which is nothing if not consistent. The small imps of the fan tribe carried by those truly miraculous creatures the Merveilleuses, whose costume was reduced to such exceedingly scanty proportions that Pg 175a Frenchman even was moved to inquire if nudity would not have been a gain to modesty, were in perfect keeping with the tout ensemble. The fan lessened its proportions, grew more and more imperceptible as the rest of the costume grew scantier, until, as in the example in the collection of Mr. L. C. R. Messel, the blades measured but two and a half inches!

(Ethnological Museum, Berlin.)

Pg 176



(Used in the Marie Stuart dance.)

The history of the folded fan in England may, broadly speaking, be said to date from the establishment of the East India Company in 1600; this event marking the commencement of that Oriental trade which assumed such vast proportions during the succeeding century. Isolated examples of the pleated fan had, however, found their way into this country earlier, these either brought by individual traders from the East, or imported from the Continent of Europe. We have already referred to the remarkable instance of the pleated fan appearing on the great seal of England, forming the crest of Cœur de Lion; a conclusive proof that this form of fan was at any rate known, if not in occasional use, in this country during the Middle Ages.

Telemachus & Calypso, English, 1780. silk mount, spangled, stick ivory, finely carved with medallions in imitation of Wedgwood’s Jasper ware. The Dowager Marchioness of Bristol.

The plumed fan, nevertheless, held its own for a considerable period, although it is extremely unlikely that it was much in vogue before the reign of Henry VIII., when we are informed that ‘even young gentlemen carried fans of feathers in their hands, which in wars our ancestors wore on their heads.’117 Shakespeare refers to ‘those remnants of fool and feather Pg 177that they have got from France.’ So, also, Stephen Gosson, Pleasant Quips for upstart Gentlewomen, 1596:

‘Were fannes and flappes of feathers fond
To flit away the flisking flies,
As tail of mare that hangs on ground
When heat of Summer doth arise,
The wit of women we might praise
For finding out so great an ease.
‘But, seeing they are still in hand,
In house, in field, in church, in street,
In summer, winter, water, land,
In cold, in heate, in dry, in weet,
I judge they are for wives such tooles
As bables are for playes for fooles.’

The author of Quips for an upstart Courtier, 1620, drawing a comparison between the degeneracy of his time and the purer manners of an earlier period, says: ‘Then our young courtiers strove to exceed one another in vertue and in bravery; they rode not with fannes to ward their faces from the wind.’

In Hall’s Satires, 1598, describing the dandies of his day:

‘Tir’d with pinn’d cuffs, and fans, and partlet stryps.’

In the play of Lingua, or The Combat of the Tongue and the Five Senses for Superiority, 1617, the following directions are given for the character of Phantastes at the head of the second scene of Act II.

‘A swart complexion’d fellow, but quicke-ey’d, in a white Satten doublet of one fashion, green Velvet hose of another; a phantasticall hat with a plume of fethers of severall colours, a little short Taffata cloake, a paire of Buskins cut, drawne out with sundry coloured Ribands with Scarfes hung about him after all fashions, and of all colours. Rings, Jewels, a Fanne, and in every place odde complements.’

In the woodcut headings to the Roxburghe Ballads (c. 1635), both feather- and folding-fans are shown; the frequent illustration of these instruments testifying to the popularity of the fan at this epoch. ThePg 178 first appearance of the modern fan, says Fairholt, may be seen in a print of the early part of the seventeenth century. The long handle is still retained, and the fan, although arranged in folds, does not appear to be capable of being folded. The fans here referred to are those seen in the prints by Vecellio and earlier engravers, small in size, referred to and illustrated in a previous chapter.118

It is not until the last decade of the sixteenth century that the folded fan appears in painted portraits, one of the earliest being that of Queen Elizabeth at Jesus College (1590), in which the Queen holds a découpé fan of the character of that illustrated from Cluny, facing page 109, having similar pointed edging.

The edges of these fans were occasionally varied to a semicircular form, a curiously interesting example appearing in a portrait of Elizabeth, Lady Wentworth, by Lucas de Heere, in which the leaf, probably of vellum or parchment, is elaborately découpé; the edges resembling a cheese-cutter in shape, the blades, apparently of ivory, numbering seven.

The patterning often rivalled the finest lace, of which it was obviously an imitation, lace also being used for fan mounts at this period, usually costly Flanders or Valenciennes. In the series of prints by Hollar of the Four Seasons, 1641, the veiled lady representing ‘Summer’ holds in her right hand an opened lace fan, the quaint legend at the foot of the plate running as follows:

‘In Sumer when wee walke to take the ayre,
Wee thus are vayl’d to keep our faces faire,
And lest our beautie should be soiled with sweate
Wee with our ayrie fannes depell the heate.’
A London Fan Shop, c.1745. Mr L.C.R. Messel
The surrender of Malta. Mrs Hungerford Pollen.

The marriage of Charles II. with Catherine of Braganza in 1662 is another landmark in the history of the fan in this country. The Queen Pg 179and her Portuguese ladies introduced the gigantic green shading fans of Moorish origin, which, in the absence of parasols (then unknown in England), served also to shield the complexions of the ladies from the sun, when they did not wish wholly to obscure their charms by putting on their masks. The Indian trade, however, opened up by Catherine’s marriage treaty, soon supplied the ladies of England with fans better adapted, by their lightness and elegance, to be used as weapons of coquetry at balls and plays.119

Large numbers of fan mounts were also imported from Italy, both at this period and later. These are referred to incidentally in one of Steele’s letters to the Tatler, April 23, 1709. ‘I am just come from visiting Sappho [probably Mrs. Elizabeth Haywood, who had been some time on the Irish stage]. As I came into the room she cries, “Oh, Mr. Bickerstaff, I am utterly undone; I have broken that pretty Italian fan I showed you when you were here last, wherein were so admirably drawn our first parents in Paradise asleep in each other’s arms.”’120

The fan of Pope’s epigram was, it will be remembered, painted with the story of Cephalus and Procris, the motto ‘Aura Veni.’

‘Come gentle air! th’ Eolian shepherd said
While Procris panted in the secret shade;
Come gentle air! the fairer Delia cries,
While at her feet her swain expiring lies.
Lo, the glad gales o’er all her beauties stray,
Breathe on her lips, and in her bosom play!
In Delia’s hand this toy is fatal found,
Nor could that fabled dart more surely wound;
Both gifts destructive to the givers prove;
Alike both lovers fall by those they love.’

Pg 180

Two fine examples of early fans with subjects from classic mythology appeared at the Walker sale; the first having a skin mount painted with the Triumph of Amphitrite, in which the daughter of Nereus is seated in a shell drawn by dolphins, with attendant nymphs and tritons, a figure of Cupid, blindfolded, hovering above; this in allusion to Neptune having sent the Dolphin to intercede for him, and to bring his innamorata from the foot of Mount Atlas. The stick is rosewood, inlaid with rays of mother-of-pearl. The second, from the collection of the Duchesse de Nemours, representing the marriage of Neptune and Amphitrite, the subject covering the whole field of a deep mount; the stick, mother-of-pearl, carved with a pastoral scene and smaller panels of warriors.

Among the earliest English fans existing in private collections is a mount of the time of Charles I., the original stick of which is said to have been of gold, jewelled. The painting, a copy of the ‘Triumph of Bacchus,’ by A. Carracci, is attributed (probably erroneously) to Peter Oliver. The fan was given by the Princess Anne (afterwards Queen) to her god-daughter, Sarah Robinson, daughter of Sir John Robinson, Master of the Tower, and widow of the eldest son of Sir Humphrey Gore, on her marriage, in 1696, with John Harvey, Esq., of Ickwellbury, Beds. It is an example of a large class of fan mounts produced at this period, which were reproductions of the works of the greater Italian masters, many of which were, doubtless, copied by Italian artists, and either exported to England, or acquired in Italy by visitors to that country.

Two interesting marriage fans of the period of Charles II., both painted by the same hand, appeared at the Walker sale in 1882; the one, ‘An Ancient Marriage,’ with the bridegroom presenting ring, the bride wearing a floral chaplet and attended by maidens with distaff and flowers; the stick of ivory, carved with emblematic figures, mother-of-pearl inlay, and silver piqué. The subject of the other (Achilles and Deidamia) referring to the taking of Troy; on the reverse a view of the park at St. Cloud; the stick, Pg 181mother-of-pearl, carved with subjects emblematic of marriage. These, doubtless, were made by the French fan-makers who had become domiciled in England, and probably, as Mr. Robert Walker suggests, for important court personages.

Fêtes on the occasion of the marriage of the Dauphin. 1770. French, Wyatt Colln. V. & A. Museum.
English Fan, painted with medallions of the Visit &c.
exhibited at South Kensington in 1870 by the Baroness Meyer de Rothschild.

It was upon the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, 1685, that the French Huguenots being obliged, through the persecution of their compatriots, to quit their own country, sought refuge in England as well as other countries, where they were received with open arms. Amongst these were a number of éventaillistes, who established an industry, having brought with them, not only the money they had been able to save, but what was still more valuable, their skill as workers, their habitual diligence and thrift. ‘The countries whither they went were enriched by the arts and trades which the French refugees introduced, and still more by the examples of industry, probity, and sincere piety which they exhibited in their own persons.’121

In 1709, upon the ‘humble petition of the Ffanmakers that exercise the Art and Mistery of Ffanmaking in London and Westminster and Twenty Miles round,’ a Charter of incorporation was granted by Queen Anne, providing that ‘all Ffanmakers within the prescribed area, and all persons who have served, or shall hereafter serve, as Apprentices to the said Art and Mistery by the space of seven years, and who hereafter, from time to time, shall be Admitted into, or made free of the Society, shall be one Body Corporate and Politick in Deed and in Name, with a common seal, with power to hold lands, and power to sue and defend the same. Power to make bye-laws touching the good estate, Rule, and Government of the Society, and for the Reformation of such abuses and deceits as shall be found to be committed by them either in uttering or making bad and deceitfull works, as also in their several Offices, functions, Misteries, and business touching the said Trade,’ etc.

Pg 182

During the latter half of the seventeenth and the first half of the eighteenth centuries the importation of fans into this country from India, China, and the East was considerable, and, together with the Italian importation, already alluded to, threatened to ruin the home industry. The fanmakers addressed themselves to Parliament, and demanded its prohibition, with the result that a tax of forty shillings a dozen was imposed upon all wooden- and feather-fans, and for a time the importation of all painted fans was prohibited. In 1750 there appear to have been disputes between the Fanmakers’ Company and journeymen fanmakers on account of non-payment of quarterage. Two interesting items of information appear in the Gentleman’s Magazine for October and December 1870 as follows:—

‘On the 28th ult. was try’d a cause between the Company of Fanmakers, incorporated by Charter for the Cities of London, Westminster, and twenty miles round, plaintiffs, and one Wagstaffe, defendant, for quarterage due to them, who was ordered to pay it with costs.’

‘On the 28th ult. was a tryal in the Court of Requests, Westminster, between the Company of Fanmakers, plaintiffs, and some fan-painters, defendants, for non-payment of quarterage, which was determined for the defendants, it appearing that they were not legal members of the said Company.’

The two following items will serve to show the extent of the fan industry in the middle of the eighteenth century, and the adverse conditions under which it laboured.

‘A writer in the Westminster Journal for February 23, 1751 (quoted by the Gentleman’s Magazine for the same year), proposes a tax upon plain and printed fan mounts. Painted ones not coloured to pass free as before. A sixpenny stamp to be affixed in the midst of a plain or printed paper fan mount, and a shilling stamp on a leather one. This may produce a revenue of ten, twenty, or thirty thousand pounds per annum, encourage a very ingenious branch of business, and only hurt about half-a-dozen paultry plate printers, who are enriching themselves and starving of hundreds.’

English Fan, ivory, finely painted with medallions in the style of Cosway Wyatt Colln. V. & A. Museum.

Pg 183

The Gentleman’s Magazine for November 1752 quotes an advertisement which appeared in the Daily Advertiser, ‘from the poor unfortunate artificers in the several branches of the fan trade, whose number is nearly 1000; returning thanks to the Company of Fanmakers for petitioning the E. India directors to discontinue the importation of fans. To excite the regard and compassion of the ladies, it asserts that the home-made fans are in every way preferable to foreign; and that by discouraging the latter, they will relieve a number of unfortunate families from the most grievous distress and despair.’122

‘On the 7th February’ (Gentleman’s Magazine, March 1753), ‘the journeymen fanmakers presented the Princess Dowager of Wales with a beautiful and elegant fan, far superior to Indian fans, which was most graciously received.’ This, doubtless, with the idea of obtaining patronage and support for the home-made article.

The imported fans were for the most part sold by tea-merchants and dealers in Oriental wares.

A trade card in the Schreiber collection, British Museum, with an elaborate engraved portrait of Queen Anne, states that John Roberts at the Queen’s Head in Holborn, near Hatton Garden, London, sells all sorts of Fine China Ware; the finest Hyson and Congo Teas, Fine Double Flint Drinking Glasses, etc., and India Fans.

The fan makers also often combined the trade of fanmaking with the sale of millinery and stationery. The Banks collection of Shop Bills includes the following trade card:—

‘Robert Pickeard, at the Swan and Golden Fan in Cheapside, near the Conduit, London.

‘Mounteth and Maketh all sorts of Fans, and Selleth Silk Gauze and Silver Handkerchiefs, Caps, Girdles, Ribbons, Roles, Wiers, Ferrits, Silver

Pg 184

Lace for Shoes, white Buttons for Shirts, Silk and Ferrit Laces, Masks and Necklaces.

N.B.—Any Merchant may be furnished with all kinds of Milenary Wares at Cheap Rates.’

Also we find Honour Chassereau, Fan Maker and Stationer, Fan and Crown, Long Acre, London, ‘selling all sorts of Stationery Wares, Wholesale, Retail, and for Exportation.’

The principal enactments for the regulation of the import trade in fans and materials of the fan are here enumerated:—

By the 11th Geo. I. cap. 7, calpins for fans are rated in the Custom House books at 7s. 6d. a dozen, and the duty paid on importation 1s. 5d. and 7/8ths a dozen.

If made of leather, and the leather be the most valuable part, for every 20s. of real value upon oath, the duty is 6s.

By the 12th Charles II. cap. 4, fans for women or children, of French make, are rated in the Custom House books at £2 per dozen, and the duty £1, 5s. per dozen. But if these fans are painted, they are prohibited to be imported, and are seizable as painted wares. The laws regulating the importation of embroidery are still more stringent.

By the Acts Richard III. cap. 10, 3rd Edward IV. cap. 3, 19th Henry VII. cap. 21, 5th Elizabeth, cap. 7, 13th and 14th Charles II. cap. 13, 4th and 5th William and Mary, cap. 10, 9th and 10th William III. cap. 9, 11th and 12th William III. cap. 11, embroidery imported is forfeited, the importer liable to £100, and the seller to £50.

The various materials, as gold and silver thread, or wire, lace fringe, work made of copper, brass, or any other inferior metal, imported, to be forfeited and burnt, and £100 paid by the importer of every parcel so imported. This under 4th Edward III., 10th Anne, cap. 26, 15th George II. cap. 20, and 22nd George II.

Ivory Empire Fan. Lady Northcliffe.
Spangled Fan, with painted miniatures. English. Mrs Frank W. Gibson.

By the 6th Anne, cap. 19, silks wrought or mixed with gold, silver, Pg 185or other materials, clandestinely imported, are forfeited, with £200 for every importer, and £100 by the receiver, seller, or concealer.

It therefore appears that either mounts, or fans that are painted, are seizable; and that all fans or mounts embellished with gold or silver are prohibited under very severe penalties, particularly under 4th Edward III., and 15th and 22nd George II. Further, paper fan-mounts could not be imported without paying a duty of 55 per cent.; the duty on plain fans being 27-1/2 per cent., or, if imported as toys, 37 per cent.

In a table of fees taken by packers and water-side porters for shipping and landing the goods or merchandise of strangers, second charter of Charles II., 1660, ‘For a load of fans, one shilling.’

The vogue of fans became general during the first half of the eighteenth century, when fan-painting was a most lucrative profession. The sculptor Nollekens tells us that when his wife was a girl, her father’s intimate friend Goupy (a well-known water-colour draughtsman who died in London in 1763) was considered the most eminent of the fan-painters, and that fan-painting was then so fashionable that the family of ‘Athenian Stuart’ (so called on account of his exquisite studies of Athens) placed him as a pupil to Goupy, conceiving that by so doing they had made his fortune; and we learn from other sources that Stuart originally gained his livelihood by painting fans.

A fan-mount in the Schreiber collection is painted with three medallions of Roman views, The Arch of Constantine, The Arch of Titus, and The Forum, the field of the fan decorated with delicate classical grotesques and border, signed ‘Jose Goupy, 1738, N.A.’ The views are skilfully drawn in pen line with wash, in the style of the water-colour draughtsmen of this period, i.e. a low-toned scheme of colour, a good deal of india ink being used. This signed example is of the greatest value in determining the character of Goupy’s work, and it is extremely probable that he was responsible for a good many mounts generally considered as Italian. It wasPg 186 from Goupy, too, that Stuart originally derived his interest in classic architectural remains, and, doubtless also, much of his skill in depicting them.

Fans had, indeed, at this period become an indispensable adjunct to a lady’s toilet, a temporary loss of this instrument, upon occasion, causing much perturbation of spirit. An amusing story of such a catastrophe is told in The Gentleman’s Magazine for April 1736:

‘What whims, what trifles, light as air,
Govern the passions of the fair,
And their dear, thoughtless bosoms tear!

Madame had come to grace the ball with her charming presence, her powdered admirers crowding about her, while,

Some dance, some sip their tea,
Some chat the pleasing hours away,
And all is innocently gay,

when, all on a sudden, Her Ladyship confounds the company by appearing in furious mood, with a voice like thunder, every one demanding the matter. Then the charming Celia, moralising, said:

‘“What pity ‘tis (in great affairs
When prudence tempers all her cares)
This lady should our mirth destroy,
A vixen, for so meer a toy!
Oh! how I blush to hear and see
A nymph (who, all the world agree,
Has acted well three parts in life,
The maid, the widow, and the wife),
Once mistress of so firm a mind,
Who wisely, decently resign’d,
Without a tear, her good old man,
Roar like Othello—for a fan.
Strange! that this engine, wont to prove
The surest instrument of love,
Should give to its illustrious dame,
While others freeze, so fierce a flame!”’
Wedding Fan, with Blanchard’s balloon, 1784. French Mrs Hawkins.
St. Peters and the Vatican, Rome, probably by J. Goupy. Dr. Law Adam.

Pg 187

The fan-shops of Fleet Street, the Strand, and Westminster are continually referred to in the advertisements which appeared from time to time in the Craftsman. The two following note a change of ownership:—

‘Feb. 6, 1741-2.

‘To be sold, at Gordon’s Fan warehouse, The Crown and Fan in Tavistock Street, Covent Garden. All sorts of Fans. Wholesale and Retail, very cheap. The Person leaving off trade.’

‘Feb. 12 1742-3.

‘Gordon’s Fan Warehouse, in Tavistock Street, Covent Garden. Mr. Gordon having left off Trade, the Business, as usual, is carry’d on by his late journey-woman,

Mary Hitchcock,

At the same Place, where Ladies may be accommodated with all sorts of Fans, at the most reasonable Rates.’

From the extremely naïve and interesting ‘fan-shop’ fan belonging to Mr. Messel we are able to gather some idea of what these shops were like. The inscription on the shop sign is ‘Fanmaker, London,’ showing that the district represented was within the London boundary of this period, c. 1745.

During the comparatively brief reign of Queen Anne fans were again made large. Sir Roger de Coverley, upon his courting the perverse widow, declared that he would have allowed her the ‘profits of a windmill for her fans.’123

With the proverbial fickleness of fashion, however, this vogue lasted but a short time; the fan lessened its proportions in the second and third decades of the century, when, during the forties, its size once again increased, following the lead of France. ‘Ventosus,’ writing in the London Magazine for 1744, quotes, with some amusing comments, an epigram by Dr. Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, originally written upon a white fan borrowed from Miss Osborne, afterwards his wife, and referred to by Steele in the Tatler for October 19, 1710:

Pg 188

‘Flavia, the least and lightest toy
Can with relentless art employ:
This Fan, in meaner hands, would prove
An engine of small force in love;
Yet she, with graceful air and mien,
Not to be told, or sagely seen,
Directs its wanton motions so,
That it wounds more than Cupid’s bow;
Gives coolness to the matchless dame,
To ev’ry other breast a flame.’

‘The whole turn of this,’ exclaims our commentator, ‘depends upon the smallness and slightness of the Instrument—the least and lightest toy? Fans now in vogue are both monstrously large and monstrously strong. To say that a fan of eight or nine inches long, which, when extended in a semi-circle could not admit a string of more than fourteen or fifteen, wounds more than Cupid’s Bow, is somewhat extraordinary, but to ascribe the same excellence to one of our modern ventilators, whose Diagonal line, when it is full spread, is longer than one of the Bowstrings of our Hoxton Archers, is ascribing nothing miraculous to it from the fair Hand that may happen to use it.’

Our good Ventosus had witnessed an increase from ‘3 Quarters of a Foot’ to ‘even 2 Foot within this week past’; he looks forward to a still greater improvement when the fan would extend to the same distance as the fashionable Hoop. This would introduce ‘somewhat of uniformity in a Lady’s Dress, and the age would be agreeably engaged at either meeting or following a fair Toast, with both her sails spread, in observing the harmony between the Curve at Top and the Curve at Bottom,’ etc. Our ingenious friend discovers other uses for such an instrument—‘a lady might mount it horizontally, to skreen herself and Family against all the Inclemencies of the weather.’

Wedding Fan, Directoire, stick horn, piqué in gold, leaf silk, painted with subjects of the Visit &c. Mr L. C. R. Messel.

Again, at the Playhouse, a good-natured lady may ‘have it in her power to oblige a whole Side Box by a single Puff, and prevent the Pg 189Beaux, as well as the Belles, from fainting away at an extraordinary Pathos.’

The possibilities of such an instrument have, apparently, no limit—‘a Blast or two from this machine would be sufficient to whiff away to a convenient Distance all troublesome and worthless Danglers, who may attempt to besiege its fortunate possessor.’

Nay, besides private benefits, one of a national nature occurs to the mind of our imaginative friend—‘20,000 such fans, properly drawn up on the Shore, might blow back the next French invasion, or at least keep off the Enemies’ Fleet till our own had Time to come up.’

Our author might indeed, with strict adherence to truth, have included the beaux as well as the belles in this fanciful defence, with a proportionate increase in the probability of victory. Amongst the effects referred to in the inventory of a beau, who was carried off dead upon the taking away of his snuff-box, and remained unburied, his goods being taken into execution to defray the charge of his funeral—‘The strong-box of the deceased, wherein were found five billet-doux, a Bath shilling, a crooked sixpence, a silk garter, a lock of hair, and three broken fans.’124

In the postscript to Addison’s letter on the subject of his ‘Fan Academy’—‘I teach young gentlemen the whole art of gallanting a fan. N.B. I have reserved little plain fans, made for this use, to avoid expense.’125

At the dancing assemblies in London, Bath, and elsewhere, it was customary for the gentlemen to select their partners by the ballot of fans, which were placed in a hat, the owner of the fan drawn becoming the partner of the gentleman who drew it. Mrs. Montagu, in one of her letters, refers to this custom. ‘In the afternoon I went to Lord Oxford’s ball at Marylebone. It was very agreeable; and the partners were chosen Pg 190by their fans, but with a little supercherie.’ A lady’s fan was almost as well known as her face, and it was not difficult, with a little contrivance, to know which to draw. The same lady, writing from Bath in January 1740, says: ‘Last night I took to the more youthful diversion of dancing, and am nothing but a fan (which my partner tore) the worse for it; our beaux here may make a rent in a woman’s fan, but they will never make a hole in her heart.’126

The popularity of the union of the ‘Orange Tree with the English Rose’ is abundantly testified by the number of painted fans issued of this subject. A painted bridal-fan of the Princess Anne, daughter of George II., married to the Prince of Orange in 1733, appeared at the Walker sale in 1882, and sold for £26. In this the Princess is seated, attended by the Loves and Graces.

The preliminaries of peace between Austria and France in 1748 provide a subject for a fan appearing at this same sale. The scene represents a tented field. Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary, joins hands with la France, the rival banners inscribed—‘Vive Louis XV., and Vive la Reine d’Hungrie’; the English banner of St. George in front; at the back the victory of Admiral Hawke. This probably executed for an English partisan on the occasion of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle.

A characteristic fan in the Wyatt collection, of the early part of the century, has a paper mount painted with merry-making scenes, persons dancing, drinking, musicians, etc.; the ivory stick carved à jour, painted with birds and flowers; the guards, mother-of-pearl, carved and painted.

Early Dutch Fan mount. A settlement in the East Indies. The Dowager Marchioness of Bristol.

Mr. George Augustus Sala, in his entertaining preface to the fan exhibition held at Drapers’ Hall in 1878, refers to a remarkably curious fan exhibited some twenty years earlier, at a congress of the Archæological Institute held at Worcester. This, evidently an English production, is a gouache on vellum, representing either the Great Lottery of 1714, or Pg 191the equally remarkable gambling enterprise of 1718, when the popular greed of gain was stimulated to such an extraordinary degree that a million and a half sterling was subscribed.

The scene is the interior of Mercer’s Hall, Ironmonger Lane, Cheapside, where transactions connected with lotteries took place, showing the platform with side galleries conveniently arranged for a crowd of gay gallants and fashionable dames in the full costume of the period; the lottery tickets are in the course of being drawn by Blue-coat boys, a wheel on either side for blanks and prizes. The design, says our author, is identified with a contemporary engraving by H. Parr, ‘Les divertissements de la Loterie,’ designed by T. Marchant, drawn by Gravelot, and published by Ryland. Gravelot was a French engraver and decorative painter, invited to this country by Claude Dubosc to assist in illustrating a sumptuous history of the campaigns of Marlborough.

Of topographical fans, that owned by Miss Moss, giving a view of Kensington Square as it appeared in the latter half of the seventeenth century, is amongst the most interesting: it is extremely fresh in colour, and exhibits a quaint sense of decorative treatment.

A fan with a view of Cavendish Square is attributed to Canaletto, who in the latter part of his life visited London, where he was held in great estimation. The subject is enclosed within a cartouche, with flowers, etc., in the Chinese taste covering the rest of the field. The stick is of ivory, carved à jour, with figures, birds, and foliated ornament; the edges, when closed, form a subject in relief of birds, insects, and fruit, this being a device adopted both in Holland, France, and Italy, but especially in the first-named country. See page 202.

This fan appeared at the Walker sale in 1882, when it was acquired by the late Baroness Burdett-Coutts.

Spangles appeared about the middle of the century, following the fashion of France. These served as borderings to subject medallions, andPg 192 emphasised the leading lines of the design. A characteristic fan of this period, 1750-1780, has either one or three medallions or cartouches, of pastoral or other subjects, with graceful figures reminiscent of Gainsborough, Hoppner, and other masters of the English school. These figure medallions were usually supplemented by smaller ones of musical or other trophies, dainty flowers, festoons, and borders, the mount being usually silk.

The sticks of these fans were narrow, the number varying from fourteen to sixteen, including the panaches, the latter delicately carved à jour. The material was generally ivory, but occasionally mother-of-pearl. The brins were perfectly straight and flat in the shoulder portion, but invariably richly decorated with embossed gold and silver work, this often taking the form of a cartouche extending over six or eight of the sticks, spangles also being freely used.

It would be difficult to discover a more perfect example of this class of fan, so peculiarly English in type, than the one exhibited at South Kensington in 1870 by the Baroness Meyer de Rothschild. In this the centre medallion represents a lady carrying a lap-dog, visiting a friend who is seated at an embroidery frame; on the inferior panels, a girl playing with a dove, and a boy with a bird-cage and a tethered bird. The mount is silk, with spangled borderings, the stick ivory, finely carved à jour, decorated in variegated gold; jewelled stud. (Illustrated facing p. 180.)

A number of fans were painted by Poggi, who was publishing engraved fans at this period, and whose fans enjoyed a high reputation. We find the following entry in Madame D’Arblay’s Journal for March 1781:—

‘Tuesday.—I passed the whole day at Sir Joshua Reynolds’s with Miss Palmer, who, in the morning, took me to see some beautiful fans painted by Poggi, from designs of Sir Joshua, Angelica, West, and Cipriani, on leather. They are, indeed, more delightful than can well be imagined; one was bespoke by the Duchess of Devonshire, for a present to some woman of rank in France, that was to cost £30.’

Antony and Cleopatra, Dutch, end of 17th cent. stick ivory later date, 18-1/2 × 10-3/4 Miss Moss.
An Embarcation, (pen & ink.) reverse, a dance of Peasants, stick ivory, finely pierced & carved, Dutch, late 17th. Cent. M. J. Duvelleroy.

In the catalogue of drawings, etc., the property of Mr. Poggi, sold by Pg 193auction by Messrs. Christie and Ansell at their Great Room, next Cumberland House, Pall Mall, on Wednesday, June the 19th, 1782, and two following days. Second Day’s Sale:—


99. Hope nursing Love, by Mr. Poggi.

100. A Nymph nursing the Genius of Love, by ditto.

101. The Universal Power of Love, by ditto.

102. The Three Fine Arts, Painting, Architecture, and Sculpture: from a design of Angelica Kauffmann, by Mr. Poggi.

103. The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche, by ditto.

104. The Universal Power of Love, by ditto.

105. Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, displaying her Jewels, by ditto.

106. The Three Fine Arts, Painting, Architecture, and Sculpture: an original drawing by A. Kauffmann.

107. A Nymph nursing the Genius of Love, by Mr. Bartolozzi.

108. Cephalus and Procris, with the portrait of Mr. Pope and the lady to whom he presented a fan with the celebrated lines in the Spectator, ‘Come gentle air,’ etc.: an original drawing by Mr. Cipriani.127

109. The Bust of Pope crowned by the Graces, who are admiring the beauty of his works: an original drawing by A. Kauffmann.

110. A Fan emblematical of Victory, composed by a Lady of Quality,128 by Mr. Poggi.

111. Venus lending the Cæstus to Juno: an original drawing of A. Kauffmann.

112. A Subject from the Etrusque: an original drawing by Mr. Bartolozzi.

113. Angelica and Medoro: an original drawing by Mr. Cipriani.

114. Hope nursing Love, by Mr. Poggi.

115. The Origin of Painting: an original drawing by Mr. Bartolozzi.

116. Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, displaying her Jewels: an original drawing by M(?) West.’129

Church-fans are referred to more fully in another chapter of this work Pg 194(page 248). The painted variety gave such subjects as ‘The Meeting of Isaac and Rebecca,’ ‘Judith with the Head of Holofernes,’ ‘The Marriage at Cana,’ ‘Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.’ An early example appeared at the Walker sale in 1882, having a deep mount painted with the subject of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; the stick ivory, with the silver piqué ornament so popular during the reigns of Charles II., Queen Anne, and George I.

Mourning-fans are easily recognisable from their generally sombre appearance. In these, the character of the subject is apparently a matter of small consequence so long as the general colour scheme is that of a funeral card, viz. black, white, and silver. In the Wyatt collection is an example of about 1750 painted in black with a pastoral scene, the stick and guards ivory, painted in black in imitation of the Chinese.

The extraordinary popularity of Wedgwood’s jasper ware was not without its influence on the fan. The example in the possession of Lady Bristol has a richly carved ivory stick with medallion subjects of Diana hunting, etc., with amorini, terminal figures, and fauns, in imitation of blue and black jasper, the panels silver piqué. The mount is of silk, with centre panel in the style of Angelica Kauffmann, the border and ornaments in gold and silver spangles, with painted Wedgwood medallions again introduced. (Illustrated facing p. 176.)

It is not difficult to fix its date. Wedgwood had perfected his jasper process by 1777, and it may be taken that the fan was produced between this year and 1780.

The painted ivory brisé fans of the latter part of the eighteenth century are typically English, though derived from an Italian source. They are quite easy of identification, being invariably delicately pierced with a fretwork pattern, painted with medallions usually one superior and two inferior, and gilt, the gold being usually applied with the brush; the fan opening out to the third of a circle.

Dutch Fan painted with subject of a botanist & lady, stick ivory, carved & painted. Sir L. Alma-Tadema. O.M., R.A.

Pg 195

An extremely interesting example is decorated with three medallions, the centre representing a sleeping nymph with Cupids. This formerly belonged to Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and was presented to Queen Alexandra when Princess of Wales by the Duke of Sutherland in remembrance of his mother.

The marriage relations of the Prince of Wales (afterwards George IV.) with Mrs. Fitzherbert formed the subject of an ivory fan, exquisitely cut in fretwork, with three painted cartouches by Richard Cosway, the centre representing the Prince and lady with Religion descending in a chariot pointing with pleading looks to a figure of Hymen, who hovers above; in the two other cartouches the pair are figured in the characters of Fidelity and Constancy. This fan was exhibited at South Kensington in 1870; it appeared at the Walker sale in 1882, when it was sold for eighteen guineas. In 1889 it was in the possession of Colonel de Lancey, and is now in the Hennin collection, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

The fan in the Wyatt collection, elaborately pierced, painted, and gilt, has three medallions finely painted in the style of Cosway, with two small medallions of heads on the guards. The connecting ribbon is green, the general colour effect being extremely good. The fan opens out to a third of a circle, the length of the blades 10 inches. (Illustrated facing p. 182.)

The leaf-fan belonging to Mrs. Hungerford Pollen, of the taking of Malta, refers to the surrender of the island to the British by General Vaubois, the act being signed and concluded on the 5th September 1800. The subject is on a large cartouche, occupying three-fourths of the leaf, the background representing a streamer of lace.

During the period of the Napoleonic wars, a number of French prisoners were installed in England at Norman Cross near Peterborough, Porchester Castle, and Edinburgh Castle, and during their confinement introduced the process of straw marquetry, which had been practised on the Continent since the time of Henry III., and possibly earlier. Boxes,Pg 196 trays, decorative pictures, nick-nacks, and hand-screens were made. Towards the end of the eighteenth century straw plaiting became vastly fashionable, and straw was adopted for hats, ribbons, plumes, girdles, and tassels. The fan was not behindhand, but followed the prevailing taste.

Several of these objects appear in the Victoria and Albert Museum, amongst them being two hand-screens with plaited views.

The fashion lasted well into the nineteenth century, when an extensive manufacture was also carried on in India (Bengal) for exportation to Europe. This chiefly consisted of hand-screens of the pear-shaped gourd type, rush being the material employed.

(From the portrait group by Van Loon at Amsterdam.)
THE people of the Netherlands have been famous, from the Middle Ages onwards, for the splendour of their costumes. We have an account of Jane of Navarre, wife of Philippe le Bel, who, upon the occasion of a visit to Bruges in 1301, was so much struck by the pomp and magnificence displayed by the inhabitants, particularly the ladies, that she exclaimed, ‘What do I see! I thought I alone was Queen, but here I find them by whole hundreds.’

The fact that fans were largely used in the Low Countries during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is evidenced by the frequency of their appearance in painted and engraved representation. In the ‘Omnium pene Europæ, Asiæ, Aphricæ, atque Americæ Gentium habitus,’ engraved by A. de Bruÿn, and published at Antwerp in 1581, nine years anterior to the earliest edition of Vecellio, the long-handled plumed fan appears in the hands of a Belgian lady; the shorter-handled tuft-fan is also carried by Pg 197noble ladies of England and France. In the works of the great Flemish painters, Vandyck and Rubens, the rigid feather-fan constantly occurs.

An Offering to Ceres, stick ivory painted with a rustic scene. German or Dutch, 21” × 11”. From Queen Victoria’s collection. H.R.H. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll.

In the engraving by ‘J. Côyens et C. Mortier,’ of the family of Frederick and Elizabeth, King and Queen of Bohemia, the young Princess Louysa holds a dark ostrich feather-fan with a mirror in the centre.

In the large portrait group by Van Loon at Amsterdam, of the family of Jan Miense Molenaer, a lady holds a folding-fan of white ostrich feathers, the wavy ivory sticks numbering five; in the same picture another lady holds a small rigid feather-fan composed of the feathers of one of the smaller birds.

In the engraved work by de Bruÿn above referred to, the large folding-fan appears constantly, though not in the hands of the Netherlandish ladies; the fashion of the fan was, however, substantially the same in most countries of Europe. Painted mounts appeared early, and were also large; the extremely interesting mount in the possession of the Dowager-Marchioness of Bristol being probably one of the earliest existing Dutch examples. The subject evidently refers to one of the Dutch settlements in the East Indies, probably the town of Batavia, built by the Dutch in the early years of the seventeenth century. Here is represented a quay, where merchandise (mostly fruits and fish) is being landed from boats, and on which buying and selling is taking place. In the background are buildings of a European character, with a volcanic range of mountains in the distance. A high-masted vessel is moored in the bay, and is partially seen behind the buildings. In the immediate foreground are two cannon-balls mounted on low pedestals. The long veils and other details of costume are similar to those worn by the Dutch during the first half of the century, seen in contemporary engravings; the remarkable peaked, plaited straw-hats are practically identical with those made by the natives of the Malay Archipelago. The leaf, which has been removed from the stick and stretched upon a frame, is painted in gouache or paper, probably a little later.

Pg 198

Of subject fans, historical or fanciful, that illustrated from the collection of Miss Moss (Antony and Cleopatra) is amongst the most charming in its quaint naïveté, and is almost certainly Dutch. The Queen is about to dissolve the pearl, which she exhibits to the astonished Antony and the serving-woman beside her. Cooks in the foreground prepare the dishes, while servitors carry them to the table. An old-fashioned chimney-corner is seen on the left, with fire-dogs and pot hanging. Music is provided by harpsichord, lute, and fiddle. The costume is of a nondescript character, Antony wearing an extraordinary plumed helmet, the Queen in ermined cloak, both having diadems. The mount, of skin, is particularly pleasant in colour quality, and probably belongs to the last years of the seventeenth century. The stick and guards of a later date. A still finer example, similar in the character of the painting, though of a somewhat later date, is the fan illustrated by gracious permission of H.R.H. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, facing page 1; this was the gift of the Duke of Coburg to Princess Victoria (afterwards Queen) in 1836, from the collection of fans at Gotha. These two fan leaves, as also Lady Bristol’s, may be accepted as original productions, i.e. the work of artists possessing some inventive power, rather than, as in the case of so many fan leaves, mere transcripts of well-known pictures.

An extremely interesting type of mount has a large vignette, usually of two figures, occupying the centre, or the whole field of the fan. In these fans the sticks are of carved ivory, often strongly reminiscent of Chinese design, or having costume figures of the character with which we are familiar in early woodcuts. Two examples in the Wyatt collection represent pastoral groups, extremely good in style, the colour scheme being most effective.

Dutch Fan, Ivory stick, carved, painted, & gilt. Mrs Davies-Gilbert.
Dutch Fan, ‘Pagoda’ stick, applied straw work on leaf. Mr L. C. R. Messel.

In the treatment of the mount the Dutch invariably followed the practice of Italy and France. Many were painted in the Chinese taste, some in imitation of the finer fans of China. The sticks of these were Pg 199usually of pierced ivory. An excellent example in the Wyatt collection shows in the centre compartment the garden of a Chinese house, with seated figures and visitors arriving. A panel on the right represents an astronomer making observations, and on the left is a fight between men in boats on a river. A capital effect is obtained in this fan by means of line work in gold, this being particularly effective over the blue water in the boat scene.

The fan illustrated facing page 198 is interesting from the cut-work of the mount, an imitation of the cut-work Italian fans of the seventeenth century; in this instance, the pattern is produced by means of stamping, done before the leaf is painted. The stick and guards are extremely effective, and are of ivory, pierced, carved, painted and gilt.

Flemish fans are often decorated with subjects from Scripture history; as Jacob and Rachel, Abraham entertaining the three Angels, scenes from the lives of Elijah, Ruth, and Boaz; these evidently for use at church. A fine example of the end of the seventeenth century appeared at the Walker sale in 1882, and passed into the Franks collection. This is a crowded composition of the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea; the stick of plain ivory, the guards carved with figures of Bellona.

The subject of Rinaldo in the Garden of Armida also occurs on a fan in the Wyatt collection, the mount chicken skin, the style and colouring that of the later Roman school of painting. The stick and guards of ivory, carved with scroll-work and figures, the date about 1700.

Embroidery was also employed. An unusual example, the method scarcely to be commended on account of the weight, is also in the Wyatt collection, with a naturalistic landscape and figures, the embroidered work covering the whole field of the fan, and consequently rendering it heavy both in appearance and actual weight. The stick and guards are tortoise-shell, pierced and embossed with gold, probably of a later date than the mount, which may be put at c. 1650.

Pg 200

The method of painting upon ivory, with a subsequent covering of varnish, if indeed it was not anticipated by the Dutch, was practised in Holland concurrently with the brothers Martin in France. It was an instance in which a new departure or fresh invention occurred simultaneously in several places, but whether the Dutch, Italians, or French were the first in the field with this method of decoration, it is certain that the varnish was perfected by Martin.

The ivory brisé fans of the Dutch were, like the French, small in size, and at the end of the seventeenth century, says Redgrave, were frequently imported into Paris and decorated in ‘Vernis Martin.’ In a most effective type of fan, the plain cream white of the ivory forms part of the decorative scheme; three medallions, one large and two small, of landscapes with figures in the foreground, form the sole decorations; the ivory background, the green connecting ribbon, and the prevailing blues and greens of the panels, constitute a most pleasant harmony. These fans usually open out to a little more than a quarter of a circle. An example appears in the Wyatt collection.

In another type, the plain ivory sticks are painted in the Chinese taste, the fans slightly larger than those previously referred to. In some, purely Chinese motifs are employed; in others, a semi-naturalistic arrangement of flowers and festoons is associated with the Martin type of decoration on the guards and lower semicircle of the fan.

In an extremely interesting fan in the Wyatt collection, this principle is carried further by the introduction of three medallions of single figures—a man with a cask of wine on his back, holding a lantern and goblet, and two female figures of flower- and fruit-sellers; the guards and lower semicircle in the Chinese taste, the blades connected by a green ribbon.

Perhaps the prettiest and most characteristic of the Dutch ivory fans are those in which the blades are cut in fine open work, and a border of from 1-1/2 to 2 inches, delicately painted with flowers, fruit, birds, and butterflies.

German Fan, the gift of H.R.H the Prince Consort to Queen Victoria, painted with medallions of dancers &c. ivory stick, carved, gilt, & painted with miniatures. 21” × 10-3/4”. H.R.H Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll.
Pastorelle, German, stick finely carved with figures, canopies &c. given by the Prince Consort to Queen Victoria from the collection of Fans at Gotha.
Pastorelle, French or German. Landesgewerbe Museum Stuttgart.

Pg 201

In some instances the principal portions of the decoration are of thin ivory applied and afterwards painted.

In these fans the connecting silk ribbon is usually white, and placed immediately below the painted border, instead of on the edge. This arrangement allows the ends of the blades to be rounded or otherwise ornamented.

Sandalwood is pierced and painted in a similar way to ivory, forget-me-nots being a favourite motif for the decoration, first on account of their suitability of sentiment—as love-gifts—and also by reason of the blue of the flower harmonising with the colour of the sandalwood. In some examples the background of this forget-me-not wreath or border is pierced, the connecting ribbon being also blue of a slightly different tint to the flowers.

The horn-fans are either pierced entirely in flat open work, or painting is employed as an additional enrichment, both sides of the fan being usually decorated with garlands in gouache. A pretty fan in the Wyatt collection has five heart-shaped garlands with the colour of the flowers alternately red and pink, the light-blue connecting ribbon forming a very effective contrast to the natural colour of the horn; indeed the connecting ribbon in each instance forms a decorative feature, the colours being of pink, blue, brown, or white, as the colour scheme demands. The horn is either of its natural colour, or stained to various hues, generally saffron.

There are also the small fans decorated with spangles, much in vogue both in Holland and elsewhere towards the close of the eighteenth century and later. The mounts are of white gauze or net, decorated with pierced and cut steel ornaments and spangles, embroidered with gold thread and braid, the stick and guards usually of stained horn inlaid with steel.

A charming example of the small spangled Dutch fan is of silk, with an inserted band of gauze ornamented with silver spangles and stamped silver ornaments, the stick and guards of horn with inserted spangles.

Pg 202

Dutch sticks often present qualities which are remarkable and unusual, the curious example owned by Mr. Messel being a case in point. This, by a device at once simple, ingenious, and effective, is made to resemble, when closed, a Chinese pagoda, and is probably an imitation of a Chinese original. The leaf is of small interest, being poorly painted in the Chinese taste; the costumes of the figures are, however, of applied straw of various colours.

The practice of carving the edges of the closed stick with figures, heads, or ornament, though not confined to the Dutch, was employed by them to perhaps a greater extent than in other countries. The curious example in the possession of Sir L. Alma-Tadema, showing a well-carved head at the handle, presents interest at either front, side, or back view of the closed fan. The leaf also of this fan, no less than the stick, presents points of exceptional interest, and represents two figures of a botanist and lady seated in a garden laid out with fountains, etc., a villa in the distance, and possibly refers to Linnæus, and either the villa of Harmanby, about a league from Upsala, which he used as a summer residence and converted into a little university, his pupils following him thither, or the Queen’s gardens at Ulriksdal, near Stockholm, arranged by the illustrious botanist.

The great traditional school of German design has never affected the fan, nor is it desirable that it should; though a plumed fan, or, for that matter, a folding one, designed by a Dürer would indeed be a precious possession.

German fans present no characteristics peculiar to the Teutonic race; the type is French, tinctured perhaps by a certain heaviness of effect, lacking the light, dainty touch of the French. A few, however, reach a high level of excellence, and compare favourably with the best French workmanship, notably an early example, illustrated, which appeared at the Exhibition at South Kensington in 1870, given to H.M. Queen Victoria by H.R.H. the Prince Consort, from the collection of fans at Gotha. In this the mount is Pg 203vellum painted with a pastorelle, the stick of ivory, carved with a series of miniature figures under canopies, coloured, and gilt. The guards are extremely curious, being cylindrical in shape, the lower segment fluted, the shoulder carved with arabesques, and surmounted by small heads.

Telemachus. German, c.1750. stick mother of pearl, carved, gilt. & painted. Kunstgewerbe-Museum, Berlin.
Love’s Mirror. German, c.1760. Kunstgewerbe-Museum, Berlin.

Another fine example (illustrated facing p. 4), from the collection of H.R.H. the Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, was also the gift of the Prince Consort to Queen Victoria, and is decorated with a series of medallions of dancing figures, etc.

A type of fan, apparently peculiar to Germany, common during the eighteenth century, has painted subjects cut out and laid on lace or net, a kind of painting appliqué, the effect extremely good. An example decorated with pastoral groups was exhibited at South Kensington by H.R.H. Madame la Comtesse de Paris; the stick ivory, carved à jour, with figures laid on gold-foil; the foliage, etc., coloured. This was bought in Dresden about 1860. A fan similar in character, the date about 1765, was exhibited at Karlsruhe in 1890.

‘If the fans of the eighteenth century,’ says Mr. H. F. Holt,130 ‘yielded in grace and elegance to those of the sixteenth, they certainly (upon occasion) exceeded them in richness and magnificence, the materials used being often costly Flanders lace, the handles splendidly ornamented and inlaid with jewels. As the climax, however, of costly magnificence,’ continues this writer, ‘I will conclude with a description of the fan of the Duchess of York, who, shortly after her arrival in England, displayed a pleated fan entirely of diamonds, with an ivory stick pierced and set with diamonds in a mosaic pattern; the outside ones were set with a single row of diamonds, whilst very large brilliants fastened the fan at the bottom.’

The eighteenth century was indeed, par excellence, the era of the fan, which was to be seen in the hands of every woman, from princess to peasant.

Pg 204



THE practice of engraving fans, begun tentatively in Italy by Agostino Carracci in the latter half of the sixteenth century, and in France by Callot somewhat later, did not become general until the close of the century that followed, although two names—those of Abraham Bosse and Nicholas Loire—stand out prominently during this interval.

The engraving of Carracci referred to in an early chapter of this work, and illustrated opposite, must be regarded as merely a design for a fan, serving no other purpose apparently, in its engraved form, than as a record of a type of fan now practically obsolete, and of which no examples in their complete or original state remain to us.

The earliest engraved fans take the form of the hand-screens in general use in Italy and elsewhere at this period. Of these, the engraving known as ‘l’éventail de Callot,’ much sought after by iconophilists, was produced in the year 1619, and is one of the most esteemed plates of the master. The subject is a fête or carnival on the Arno, given at Florence on the 25th of July of that year by the Corporations of Weavers and Dyers, the whole subject being enclosed in a characteristic cartouche, on the lower portion of which the name ‘Jacomo Callot fec.’ appears.

Engraved design for Feather Fan, by Agostino Caracci.
Hand Screen, by C.F. Hörman.
Schreiber Colln. British Museum.

Pg 205

Two states of this engraving are known. The first, before the inscription on the ribbon and the name on the cartouche, being extremely rare.131

Callot has been credited with a second fan, which also takes the form of a cartouche of similar shape to the first mentioned. The subject is a dance in a garden—six persons are seen dancing a minuet before an assembled company. This engraving, however, is rightly ascribed by the best authorities to Stefano della Bella.

This subject was imitated and amplified by Nicolas Cochin the elder, the composition rearranged, a larger number of figures introduced, with a different and more elaborate background, the cartouche being similar.

Cochin also produced a subject of the Triumph of David, who is represented on horseback, sword in hand, with the head of Goliath, the cartouche copied from Callot, inscribed ‘Balthasar Montcornet, ex Cum privilegio a paris.’

Another of these engraved hand-screens consists of a frame composed of two large eagles, with the arms of Austria and Medicis, enclosing a view of the Villa Reale near Florence, freely etched in the manner of Israel Silvestre.

A set of four hand-screens was engraved by Christopher Fredr. Hörman; prints of Nos. 3 and 4 appear in the British Museum collection. No. 3 is included in Lady Charlotte Schreiber’s book, No. 4 being reproduced here. The subjects are ballet dancers in fantastic costume, accompanied by, in each instance, a figure playing a musical instrument.

The distinguished French engraver, Abraham Bosse (born 1602, died 1676), engraved three fans during the years 1637-38, much valued by collectors. The ornament of these, designed in a florid Renaissance style, consists of amorini, masks, festoons, etc., enclosing medallions of mythoPg 206logical subjects—the first being the birth of Adonis, Venus and Adonis, and the death of Adonis; the second—the Judgment of Paris, a Cupid drawing his bow, and a Cupid with a crown; the third—the four ages: of gold, silver, bronze, and iron.

No examples of these engravings appear in the British Museum collection. A print of the Judgment of Paris is in the Bibliothèque Nationale, but permission to reproduce it could not be obtained.

The title-page of Nicholas Loire’s work, Desseins de grands Éventails, appears in the Schreiber collection, together with six engravings from the work. This title-page, by far the most characteristic design of the series, takes the form of a folding-fan, full size. Its subject is an arabesque, composed of a droll with cap and bells playing a guitar, and two fantastic dancing figures on an ornamental festooned platform supported by the wings of female terminals; cornucopia, amorini, vases and flowers serve to complete the composition. It is inscribed: ‘Divers Desseins de grands Eventails, Ecrans, et autres Ornamens, Inventés et Gravés par Nicholas Loire, A Paris chez Jombert rüe Dauphin, No. 56,’ and signed ‘Loire fecit.’

The designs, which measure eight inches, are evidently intended to form the central subjects of fans, to be completed and coloured by hand. They include ‘The Judgment of Paris,’ enclosed in a cartouche with Cupids, fruit, etc.; an eastern goddess, seated under a canopy, the drapery of which is sustained by two serving-men; Isaac and Rebekah; The finding of Moses; Venus; and Europa.

A Fête on the Arno. (Éventail de Callot.) British Museum

The topical fan, having reference to royal and distinguished personages, or recording public events, was entirely the product of the eighteenth century. It was, broadly speaking, born with the century, and died with it. During this period, the engraved fan became a purveyor of history, a kind of running commentary on the affairs of the hour. It was the fan of the people—the poor relation of the more aristocratic painted fan.Pg 207 ‘Ill drawn, roughly modelled, and often vilely bedaubed,’ says Henri Bouchot in his entertaining ‘History on Fans,’132 ‘its genesis is not hard to determine; its fathers were Callot and Abraham Bosse, and its mothers the coquettes of the grand siècle.’ We shall, therefore, lightly, though perhaps somewhat too swiftly, traverse the fascinating period above indicated, with this sprightly annotator for guide, which finds amusement in ‘Malbrouk’ and his mock burial, follows Stanislaus into his enforced retirement in Alsace, alternately sympathises with and mocks at the woes of the unfortunate Louis and his family, with apparent careless nonchalance records the chief scenes of the reign of terror, celebrates the amazing triumphs, and witnesses the ultimate defeat of Napoleon.

Naval and military events, for reasons which will be sufficiently obvious, play a comparatively unimportant part in French fan decoration. ‘Malbrouk’ (Marlborough) is, however, lampooned in three scenes from the popular song of ‘Malbrouk,’ said to have been composed on the night after the battle of Malplaquet, September 11, 1709, and a plagiarism of a Huguenot song on the death of the Duc de Guise,133 written by Théodore de Bèze and published by the Abbé de la Place in his collection of fragments, the first verse of which runs as follows:

‘Qui veut ouïr chanson? (bis)
C’est du Grand Duc de Guise;
Et bon bon bon bon,
Di dan di dan don.
C’est du Grand due de Guise!
Qui est mort et enterré.’

‘Malbrouk’ provided the subject of several fans, the most popular versions giving three vignettes. In the centre his tomb inscribed ‘Ci Git Malbrouk,’ guarded by four soldiers. Below are portions of the thirteenth and fourteenth verses:

Pg 208

‘A l’entour de sa tombe
Romarin l’on planta.’
‘Sur la plus haute branche
Le rossignol chanta.’

On the left, his departure, Madame taking an affectionate leave; below:

‘Malbrouk s’en va-t-en guerre.’

On the right, the tower, Madame with telescope, page bringing news of Malbrouk’s death; below, a portion of fourth verse:

‘Madame à sa tour monte
Si haut qu’elle peut monter.’

On the back of the fan are nineteen verses of the song with music, and the refrain: ‘Miron, ton-ton-ton-miron.’

An example appears in Miss Moss’s collection, with the reverse only engraved, the obverse painted in gouache on skin, the stick ivory, pierced and carved.

Several versions of the engraved fan are extant—one with similar arrangements to that above described, and the Histoire de Malbrouk in thirty-one verses on the back. A second has, for centre, Malbrouk’s body carried by soldiers; on the left, Madame on tower, page bringing news, both in tears; on the right the tomb, ten verses from the second part of the song, filling the field of the fan. On a third, in the centre, Malbrouk taking leave; on the left, page bringing news of his death; on the right, the tomb; on the reverse, the verses of the song, with music, and the refrain:

‘Miron ton-ton-ton-mirontaine.’

The fan of ‘La Coquette,’ with those of ‘la Belle Chanteuse’ and ‘le Galant,’ and portraits of Babet the flower-girl (a popular character of the period), were issued by the dealer Crépy and sold by the score to the frequenters of the theatre.

Grotesque Fan, in imitation of Callot, French or Dutch, 17th Cent. Bibliothèque Nationale.

Pg 209

La Coquette herself, with her paniers occupying nearly a third of the fan, demurely takes her tea. She is, doubtless, the sister of Mademoiselle Alluré, who dances to the music of a viola, while the small half-opened fan, the fan within the fan, sings:

‘Voilà un éventaille mon cousin,
De plaisante figure.
Admiré son dessin, mon cousin,
Mais non pas la peinture,
Elle est à l’allure, mon cousin,
Mon cousin à l’allure!’

The half-opened fan of ‘La Coquette’ is also provided with a subject of which, perhaps, the less said the better:

‘Cette Evantail est magnifique
Mais defectueux en cela.
Que pour la mettre en musique
Il faut dire un sol, la, mi, la. (Un sot l’a mis là!)’

The peasant girl, with her panier on hip and panier on arm, is also a coquette; ‘Je vais en Vendange remplir mon Panier,’ says she, the sort of vintage the cunning Margot hopes for being sufficiently obvious, even without the love-knot that loops the frame of the miniature with its accompanying legend, ‘J’ay bien des camarades sur la place,’ and the knave of diamonds standing hard by.

The ‘little air’ with its explanatory picture says:

‘Je voudrois bien Liset-te
Au son de ma musett-te
Je voudrois bien Liset-te
Charmer vôtre langueur;
Que faittes vous seulette
Assis dessus l’herbette
Votre ame est inquiette.
Qui peut Causer votre langueur
Au son de ma muset-te
Je voudrois bien Liset-te.’

Pg 210

A pictorial rebus (referring to ‘l’éventail magnifique’), a game board, a harlequin, and a billet-doux (N’oubliez pas le porteur) complete the composition; the whole being an instance of the Parisian’s insatiable love of badinage. Printed in Paris in 1734.

In Le bal des Nations, the several countries are figured as pretty women at a costume ball; this representing the fan’s comment on the declaration of war with the Emperor Charles VI. Each of the actors of the piece delivers a song, the words of which are printed round the top of the fan. La France sings:

‘Je suis certaine
De bien cabrioler,
Rien ne me gêne,
Je veux me signaler.
Je connais mes appas;
Sur tout j’aurai le pas,
D’un beau boquet parée,
Que Charles detacha
De sa livrée.’

La France is followed by L’Espagne, La Sardaigne, L’Italie, L’Allemagne, La Saxe, La Russie, La Pologne, La Turquie, La Hollande and L’Angleterre. The air, (le Bel Age), printed on the fan.

Events failed to bear out the fan’s predictions. The news of the defeat of Stanislaus was carefully concealed from Queen Marie, the king causing a special copy of the Gazette to be printed announcing her father’s successes.

The queen, however, remained in ignorance but a short while; the fan, the popular newspaper of the period, very speedily announced—‘Capture of Dantzic by the Russians, unconditional surrender.’ The picture—Stanislaus escaping through a gateway with his band of mounted followers.

The Four Ages. Abraham Bosse

‘Malbrouk’ crops up again towards the middle of the century; the Pg 211folly of ‘Pantins’134 and Bilboquets had been superseded by le ‘fureur de cabriolets,’ to be in turn driven away by ‘Malbrouk.’ ‘Une Folie chasse l’autre’ exhibits ‘Malbrouk’ fully equipped with sword and buckler, issuing from a tent held open by a fool in cap and motley, driving away figures of a woman playing bilboquet, a dancing abbé with Pantin, a cabaret-keeper, and a man with flag and lantern.

To the air of ‘Chacun à son Tour,’ the fan sings:

‘Un rien suffit pour nous séduire
La nouvauté par son attrait
Nous enflame jusqu’au delire
Nous fait en rire on à tout fait
Et chez notre nation volage
Malbrouk est le Héros du jour.
Chacun à son Tour
C’est notre usage
Chacun à son tour.
Au Bilboquet Pantin succede
Pantin fuit devant Ramponeau
l’Elégant Ramponeau ne cede
Que pour faire place à Janot
La Folie qui nous guide à tout âge
Amene Malbourg en ce jour.
Chacun à son tour, etc.’

We have also a satire on the separation of America from England, who is represented as a cow, with America in the act of sawing off its horns; Holland milking it; Spain waiting to receive the milk. A lion representing England has lost its right paw. To the left ‘Jacques Rosbif’ and a companion in despairing attitudes, with the deed of separation and a bale of goods labelled ‘TEE.’ The whole scene is being witnessed

Pg 212

by a group of figures representing the Powers of Europe, with a paper inscribed ‘Epoque fatale. 4 Juillet, 1776, & le 13 Mar. 1778.’ On the reverse the ‘Explication de l’emblème’ as—

1. ‘La Vache & le Lion sont le symbole de l’Angleterre.’

2. ‘La Corne qu’on a sciée à la Vache, la Patte qu’on a coupée au Lion, & la tranquillité de ces Animaux désignent la foiblesse & l’épuisement actuels de la Nation,’ etc.135

The capture of Granada by the French fleet under the Comte d’Estaing, in 1799, is commemorated, the fan illustrating the sea-fight between French and English ships.

The fortunes of the ill-fated Louis Seize and his beautiful consort are followed to the final tragedy of 1793 with its momentous consequences. We have seen how the good citizens of Dieppe celebrated the joyful occasion of the birth of the dauphin by the gift to the queen-mother of a precious fan of carved ivory. On the more humble printed fan, Immortality, amid a great concourse of people, with fireworks and illuminations in the background, presents the royal infant on a cushion, to kneeling, admiring, and devoted France, who offers a basket of hearts. The inscription, ‘Le Dauphin présenté par l’immortalité, la France saisie d’admiration offre pour hommage à son Prince chéri les cœurs unis et respectueux de ses fidèles sujets.’

Again the fan sings the birth of the dauphin; in this the royal infant, in leading-strings, advances to meet the king, his father, who is standing near. Above, a genius floats in the air, with a wreath and two shields of arms bearing fleurs-de-lys and two dolphins. On either side are verses entitled ‘Chanson sur la Naissance du Dauphin. Air, de la Pantoufle.’

Title Page of Nicolas Loire’s ‘Desseins des grands Eventails.’ Schreiber Colln. British Museum.
La Coquette. Bibliothèque Nationale.

Pg 213

‘Vénus, en ce jour,
Comble nos cœurs d’allégresse
Vénus en ce jour
Donne naissance à l’amour,
François chérissons,
Et donnons notre tendresse
François chérissons
Cet auguste rejetton,’ etc.

The song of ‘Malbrouk’ came once again into fashion in 1782. It was sung by the nurse to the infant dauphin, and hence became one of the favourite tunes of Marie-Antoinette. Beaumarchais introduced it into Le Mariage de Figaro in 1784, the piece having been privately performed before the king at Versailles, the queen taking the part of Suzanne. ‘Malbrouk,’ say the authors of the Mémoires Secrets de Bachaumont, ‘has become the hero of every fashion—to-day everything is “à la Malbrouk”—ribbons, head-dresses, waistcoats, above all, hats “à la Malbrouk,” and one sees all the ladies, either walking in the streets, on the promenade, or at the play, “rigged out” in this grotesque couvre-chef.’

Most things mundane, however, come to an end sooner or later—even the star of Malbrouk, in its turn, is eclipsed:

‘Malbrouck n’a plus d’empire,
Les beaux jours sont passés,
Ce guerrier a fait rire
Les gens les plus sensés,
Mais changeant de méthode
Au gré de nos sçavans,
Chacun se prend de mode
Pour les globes mouvants!’

On a fine evening at the end of August 1783, the peasants of Gonesse were astonished by a ‘bolt from the blue’ in the shape of Professor Charles’s balloon. ‘What is it?’ they exclaim—‘some strangePg 214 demon, or a visitant from Mars.’ The machine, which had no occupant, King Louis having objected to a man risking his neck, only escaped destruction by the interference of the parish priest. Here, surely, was an opportunity for the fan, by which, as a matter of fact, it was not slow in profiting. Balloon-fans became at once the mode, and ‘La Mode’ appropriated the balloon; hats ‘au ballon,’ everything—dresses, ribbons, even hair, ‘au ballon.’

On December 1st of the same year, MM. Charles and Robert made their ascent in the gardens of the Tuileries. We therefore have a fan representing the departure of ‘les deux intrépides,’ with a group of spectators, among whom are two members of the Royal House, ‘des seigneurs quantité.’ On the reverse, two lines of music and five stanzas of verse, of which the first runs as follows:

‘De l’aerostatique sphère
françois admirez la splandeur
voyez sa forme circulaire
coup seé par un Equateur
ensélevant elle présente
le sigue qui nous attendrit
c’est la maison interessante (bis)
des gemeaux quelle nous ravit.’

There was an echo in England. An illustration of the event forms the centre subject of a fan in the Schreiber collection. On the left, Biaggini’s Air Balloon is about to ascend; and on the right, The Fall of ye Balloon, the confused mass being viewed with curiosity by three rustics.

In the following March, M. Blanchard made his ascent in his balloon with four rudders; the event duly recorded on a fan inscribed ‘La Phisico Mécanique Ou le Vaisseau Volant de Mr. Blanchard.’ The song of four stanzas, ‘Oh parbleu voici du plaisant. Vive la Phisique,’ etc.

Taking of the Bastille, 1789. Schreiber Colln British Museum.
Duc d’Orleans. Miss Moss.

Pg 215

There were painted as well as engraved balloon-fans—with a centre medallion of two fair damsels viewing ‘sa forme circulaire,’ a smaller medallion of a balloon on either side, the field of the fan in the glitter of stars, spangles, and dotted ornaments.

Thus Carlyle, with his characteristic double entente, philosophising on these events: ‘Beautiful invention; mounting heavenward, so beautifully,—so unguidably! Emblem of much, and of our Age of Hope itself; which shall mount, specifically-light, majestically in this same manner; and hover,—tumbling whither Fate will. Well if it do not, Pilâtre-like, explode; and demount all the more tragically!—So, riding on windbags, will men scale the Empyrean.’

The comments of the Parisian wits were of a different order to the caustic satire of Carlyle: in the engraving by Sargent, which appeared in all the glory of printed colour, a learned but absent-minded physicist, instead of inflating his silken globes, inflates himself with the result that he disappeared through the window. ‘Mon pauvre oncle,’ exclaims a young man who exhibits the extreme of grief and despair. A fan leaf ‘à l’oncle’ appears in the Bibliothèque Nationale, having been removed from a mount. Wright, Caricature History of the Georges, note, p. 545, says: ‘The ascents in France during the year 1784 were very numerous, and excited interest even in England.’

Horace Walpole, writing from London on May 7 of the following year, says: ‘Of conversation, the chief topic is air-balloons; a French girl, daughter of a dancer, has made a voyage into the clouds, and was in danger of falling to earth, and being ship wrecked. Three more balloons sail to-day; in short, we shall have a prodigious navy in the air, and then what signifies having lost the empire of the ocean?’

Beaumarchais’ comedy, Le Mariage de Figaro, upon its production in Paris in 1784, immediately became the rage, and enjoyed its successful run of a ‘hundred nights.’ Its story supplied the ‘book’ for Mozart’sPg 216 opera, which had been ‘commanded’ by the Emperor (Joseph II.) of Germany. This work, first produced in Vienna at the time when Italian opposition to German opera as represented by Gluck and Mozart waxed fiercest, failed, being so indifferently performed under the direction of Salieri, the head of the opposing faction. At Prague, however, where it was subsequently given, and which was outside the influence of Salieri, it was completely successful, a circumstance which afforded Mozart so much satisfaction that he declared that he would write an opera for the good people of Prague, and thereupon produced Don Giovanni!

While the Italian opposition to Mozart’s music was so pronounced, the feeling of antagonism was by no means reciprocated by the great Salzburg composer, who wrote a number of variations to airs by Sarti, Paisiello, and Salieri. The beautiful series of variations on the air ‘Mio Caro Adone’ from Salieri’s opera, La fiera ai Venezia, was composed in 1773, the opera appearing in Vienna a year previously.

Two Figaro fans appear in the Schreiber collection, British Museum, the one with a single medallion in the centre, with scene from the play, and four stanzas of verse commencing ‘Jadis on voioit Thalie,’ etc.; the other with a centre medallion and two smaller ones, and thirteen stanzas of verse commencing ‘Cœurs sensibles, cœurs fidelles,’ etc., with music. Inscribed at the top—‘Vaudeville du Mariage de Figaro.’ Beaumarchais collaborated with Salieri in the opera of Tarare, first produced in Paris in 1787. He claimed to have led the way to the Revolution by this piece, which formed the subject of several fans.

Three scenes from Grétry’s opera of Richard, Cœur de Lion, first produced in 1784, and performed the following year before the king and queen at Fontainebleau, appear on a fan, the costumes being of the period of the production of the opera, the ladies wearing the hooped petticoat, with long streamers from their heads. On the reverse, two songs commencing ‘Que le Sultan Saladin,’ and ‘La Danse n’est pas ce que j’aime.’ The songPg 217 ‘O Richard, O mon Roi, l’univers t’abandonne,’ which, however, does not appear on the fan, became of historic importance at Versailles, October 1, 1789.

Other operatic fans commemorate ‘Nina ou la Folle par Amour’ and ‘Raoul de Créqui’ by Dalayrac, produced in 1786 and 1789 respectively. The first named has a single scene with four figures in the centre of the fan, and verses headed ‘Romance de Nina, Chantée par Mme. Dugazon.’ The second much more elaborate, with one large and two smaller panels, verses and music from the opera on the back of the fan.

Three scenes from Dezède’s Alcidor, produced 1787, commemorate an opera of which both composer and music are now forgotten. The decorations are etched and rudely coloured by hand; the sticks walnut, inlaid with ivory.

Three hand-screens appeared with a scene from the first, second, and third acts respectively of Fanchon La Vielleuse, a French version of Himmel and Kotzebue’s operetta, Fanchon, das Leyermädchen, produced at Berlin in 1805. These testify to the transient popularity of a now almost forgotten composer. The screens are of cardboard, coloured grey-brown, shield-shaped, having an oval medallion engraved in line and coloured by hand. On the reverse, extracts from the libretto.

Of plays we have an illustration of a scene from Voltaire’s tragedy of Brutus, first produced in Paris in 1730, and revived in 1790, the names of the several characters inscribed below the figures.

On another fan, three scenes from Chénier’s play of Charles IX. ou l’École des Rois, which appeared in Paris in 1789. On the reverse, a long quotation from the second scene of the third act.

An adventure of Philippe-Égalité, Duc d’Orléans, provided the subject of several fans. The story is related at length upon a fan which shows the interior of a cottage where the Duke, during a walk near Bency, in January 1786, had stopped to ask for a breakfast. The peasant’s wife was at the point of childbirth, and was actually delivered whilst the unknownPg 218 prince ‘que la France admire’ ate his frugal meal of bread and cheese. With his natural bonhomie he proposed himself as godfather, and only at the signing of the register he disclosed his identity by exhibiting his ‘cordon-bleu.’

A fan in the Schreiber collection shows the interior of a parish church, with the prince standing as sponsor. The inscription, ‘Couplets dédiés à S.A.S. Monseigneur le Duc d’Orléans.’

‘Admirons son noble courage,
Son Joquet se trouve en danger,
Ce Héros se jette à la nage,
Rien ne lui paroit étranger.
Exaltons le Prince fait homme
Célébrons ses nobles vertus
Et qu’en tous lieux on le renom̃e
Comme on a renom̃é Titus,

The assembly of notables is duly recorded. We see majesty enthroned with a royal prince on either side; Monsieur de Calonne reads his speech, a clerk seated at the table. Inscribed at the top of the fan, ‘L’Assemblée des Notables commencée le 22 Février 1787.’ On the reverse, the king’s oration, with the extract from that of Monsieur Calonne, together with a song entitled ‘Ronde Joieuse à l’Occasion de l’Assemblée des Notables.’136

Carlyle thus refers to the popular comments upon this event:—‘The gaping populace gapes over Wood-cuts or Copper-cuts; where, for example, a Rustic is represented convoking the Poultry of his barnyard, with this Pg 219opening address: “Dear animals, I have assembled you to advise me what sauce I shall dress you with”; to which a Cock responding, “We don’t want to be eaten,” is checked by “You wander from the point (Vous vous écartez de la question).” Laughter and logic; ballad-singer, pamphleteer; epigram and caricature: what wind of public opinion is this—as if the Cave of the Winds were bursting loose!’

Of the events which immediately preceded and culminated in that of the 14th July, the fan says little, except in reference to that dread disease ‘consumption of the purse.’ The people have their States-General—the king is represented as leaning upon a bust of Necker, and holding a cornucopia from which issues gold; inscribed above, ‘L’Heureuse Union des trois États Généraux sous le bon plaisir de Louis Auguste XVI. par les soins de Mr. Necker en 1789.’

On another fan (brisé) the three orders of clergé, noblesse, and Tiers État appear represented by single figures in medallions.

Of two fans having reference to the enforcement of public contributions by Necker, one figures Louis and the dauphin standing before an open box, with a Necker, who has developed wings, opening the box and abstracting a bag of money: other matters, less significant, appear. On the other fan is figured a lady and gentleman in a carriage driving through a wood, with a parcel under the carriage inscribed Contributions; an officer with a woman riding on the opposite side of the fan, the two meeting at the junction of the two roads.

And so we reach the lurid 14 Juillet. To describe this siege of the Bastille passes the talent of mortals; how much more that of the frail fan!—Of the actual storming, therefore, not a word; we are given instead a view of the fortress with the white flag floating from the turret. M. de Launay’s house is in flames, he himself is led between Jamé and the clock-maker, Hemert, under arrest. Another fan gives us a view of the Bastille with the drawbridge down, De Launay wringing his hands,Pg 220 bemoaning his fate, led prisoner. On the right of the fan are soldiers headed by Élie with the paper of capitulation on the end of his sword, two Invalides imploring mercy.

A third fan shows, in a large medallion, a view of the battlements, with an unfortunate soldier being flung from the height, as De Launay himself had been threatened. In the foreground De Launay dragged in custody. The fan (brisé) strung with a tricolour ribbon.

In a fourth fan the Bastille is relegated to the distance, a company of soldiers drawn up at its gates. In the foreground Liberty is seated with cap in one hand, and in the other a scroll labelled ‘Époque de la Liberté.’ Above, a winged figure blowing a trumpet, on the drapery of which is inscribed ‘Prise a la Bastile le 14 Juilet 1789’; in the right hand a cockade: the subject forming a medallion mounted in the centre of an ivory fan cut in fretwork and decorated with trophies, etc., in gold and colour. An example of this fan was sold at the Walker sale in 1882. ‘Souvenir de la Bastille’ gives a view of the building with neighbouring street. ‘Imp et Fabrique d’Eventails Rabiet. J. Ganné Succ 63 Bould Ménilmontant, Paris. Degovrnay, Éditeur. 28 Rue Mazarine, Paris.’ On the back—fleurs de lys and Vive le Roy, 1789.

A sixth shows the conquerors issuing from the drawbridge, De Launay and ‘Le lieutenant’ in great distress; on the reverse the fan sings ‘L’Époque de la Liberté’:

‘Vive Vive la liberté,
C’est le cri de toute la France,
Le Parisien est en gaîté,
Il va combattre, en assurance
Le bonheur désiré longtems
Ne se voit plus en équilibre,
Tous les cœurs se trouvent contens,
Vive le roi d’un peuple libre.
Pg 221 ......
‘A Dieu Bastille, à dieu Cachots
Séjour à jamais exécrable,
Plus de victimes ni de maux
Dans votre enceinte abominable,
Bientôt à nos yeux éblouis
Comme on en voit aux bords du Tibre
La Colonne portant Louis
Annoncera le peuple libre.’

The Bastille has vanished, the fan remaining as souvenir to be sold for a few sous, and fluttered by the cheek of some light-hearted grisette. ‘Tiens!’ she exclaims, ‘La prise de La Bastille! c’est belle, n’est-ce pas?’ as happily ignorant of the trend of events as majesty in its gilded chamber. ‘Mais,’ says the poor king, ‘c’est une révolte!’ ‘Sire, it is not a revolt,—it is a revolution.’

The era of universal liberty has indeed arrived. In ‘Les Droits de l’Homme, 1789,’ Liberty dons her cap, seats herself upon a pedestal to be saluted by all good citizens with song, dance, and flowers; the former, duly inscribed on the fan, commencing ‘Veillons au Salut de l’empire.’

In a variation of this subject La Liberté holds a plummet and triangle in her right hand, in the other a staff surmounted by a cap of Liberty; the pedestal inscribed, ‘Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, Unité.’

In a third fan La Liberté becomes ‘Patrone des Français,’ and is still provided with plummet and cap.

In ‘Le Serment Civique, 1789,’ the attributes only of Liberty appear, in the shape of three flaming hearts and cap on a flaming altar. Mayor Bailly and Lafayette take the oath, to the accompaniment of a song commencing ‘Français, quand je pense à nos maux.’

The Revolution is therefore sanctioned—one of its earliest results being Le Déménagement du Clergé. On the fan we see a group of bishops, monks, nuns, a number of servants carrying furniture and other effects. A bishop, with pipe and bottle, is seated on the top of a baggagePg 222wagon on which is inscribed, ‘J’ai perdu mes bénéfices, Rien n’égale ma douleur.’ A monk, also smoking, is riding on the horse and flourishing a flag inscribed, ‘Guidon.’ ‘Messieurs of the Clergy, you have to be shaved; if you wriggle too much, you will get cut.’137

In the ‘Désespoir des Pensionnaires,’ we are introduced to a group of figures who are bewailing their loss; a messenger in cockaded hat is delivering the notices.

Cockades, indeed, were at this period ‘de rigueur’—the ladies wore them in front of their head-dresses—wore gauze bonnets trimmed on either side with them, a great bow of tricoloured streamers at the back. Stripes everywhere—stripes and cockades, cockades and stripes—stripes on the dresses, slippers, and even the huge muffs of the women; stripes on the waistcoats, stockings, and gloves of the men. The patriotic Frenchmen and Frenchwomen of 1789 were the very incarnation of the tricolour; it was the symbol of the gospel of the Revolution, Blue of Liberty, White of Equality, Red of Fraternity.138

The Fête de la Fédération, 1790, is commemorated on a fan giving in the centre a view of the altar in the Champ de Mars, with Lafayette waving the tricolour, the fan incribed ‘Le Serment fait sur l’Autel de la Patrie le 14 Juillet 1790, la voix de Mr. la Fayette, Major de la Confédération s’est fait entendre au Champ de Mars.’ On either side are busts of King Louis and Lafayette, inscribed ‘Louis XVI., Roi des Français né à Versailles le 23 Aoust 1754.’ ‘M. De La Fayette Com. Géné. de la Garde Nat. Parisienne.’

On another fan the altar, with surrounding booths, arches, etc., and groups of soldiers dancing. On either side eight verses of a poem, commencing, ‘Voilà la Fête de la Fédération,’ etc., to the air ‘Vive Henri IV.139

The Abolition of the Slave Trade. Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
‘Cabriolet’ Fan. Schreiber Colln. British Museum.

Pg 223

The ‘Day of Poignards’ (February 28, 1791) approaches, and friends of Royalty (les chevaliers de poignard) rally round the son of sixty kings. We all know the issue: chevaliers retreated with greater expedition than they came—flung ignominiously downstairs into the darkness of the Tuileries garden, accelerated by ignominious shovings from the sentries—‘spurnings a posteriori, not to be named.’140 Our veracious chronicler the fan provides us with a representation of the scene. The inscription, ‘Arestation e Désarmement de gens au suspects Chau des thuileries le 28 Fer 1791 à 10h du soir,’ with six verses of a revolutionary song, entitled, ‘La Soirée des Poignards,’ the refrain:

‘Quoi l’habit bleu vous fait peur
Valeureux Aristocrates,
Quoi l’habit bleu vous fait peur
Brave ci-devant Seigneur.’

The event of the 2nd of April could not pass without the fan’s comment; we therefore have a medallion profile portrait of Mirabeau, inscribed, ‘Honoré Gabriel Riquetti, Cte de Mirabeau. Mort le 2 Avril 1791.’

A second Mirabeau fan, in the possession of M. Philippe de Saint-Albin, has in the centre a portrait bust, above which is inscribed, ‘Honoré Gabriel Riquetti Mirabeau,’ and ‘Je combattrai les factieux de tous les partis’; on either side of the portrait two medallions, the subjects including Mirabeau as tribune, and the great orator on his deathbed.

Assignat-fans, 1791, refer to the difficulties with respect to paper-money, the woes of the holders of rentes, when paper-money was not worth one-tenth of its face value, and draw a contrast between the Dives of the past and the financier of the present. On the obverse, a medley of assignats of 1791-2; on the reverse, the two Jeans, the one in ragged Pg 224clothing and poor surroundings, weeping over his assignats, crying, ‘Ils sont tombés’ and

‘Vous êtes Etonnés, je m’en apperçois Bien:
Qu’avec du papier je ne possède Rien’;

the other, ‘Jean qui Rit,’ the speculator, who exchanges one louis d’or for 10,000 livres in assignats, is seated at a table with a large coffer and numerous bags filled with gold. He points to his brother ‘Jean qui Pleure’ and says, ‘Il se désole,’ and ‘A de certaines gens, je ne me suis point fié. Ce Résultat pour moi, vaut mieux que du papier.’

On several assignat-fans the money card, the seven of diamonds, is introduced, its significance being sufficiently obvious.

And royalty in its gilded saloon, what has become of it? How fares it with the poor Louis and his devoted family? That flight from the Rue de l’Échelle in the darkness of the night of the 20th June 1791, when the lady shaded in broad gypsy-hat, tapped, from sheer playfulness, with her badine—‘light little magic rod such as the Beautiful then wore—the wheel of Lafayette’s carriage as it rolled past’; this goes unrecorded, as also the incident in the village of Sainte-Menehould, when Post-master Drouet recognises a familiar face in the lady with the slouched gypsy-hat and the ‘Grosse-Tête’ in round hat and peruke. ‘Quick, Sieur Guillaume, Clerk of the Directoire, bring me a new Assignat! Drouet compares the Paper-money Picture with the Gross Head in round hat there: by Day and Night! you might say this one was an attempted engraving of the other.’141

And so event succeeds event—over the final tragedy of the 21st January 1793, no less than over the more piteous scene of October 16, the fan discreetly draws a veil.

Napoleon shows his troops the channel, 1803. Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

Several fans have for their subject the Testament du Louis XVI., and give medallion portraits of the king and various members of his family, with the symbol of immortality; the inscription, ‘Testament De Louis Pg 225Seize, Né Le 23 Aoust 1754. Mort le Lundi 21 Janvier 1793.’ On the sides or reverse of the fans, the will written out at length.

In ‘Le Songe,’ a female figure is represented asleep; on a tomb in the centre of the fan, a figure of Louis appears when the fan is placed against the light; the representation being veiled or concealed by means of a thin piece of paper pasted over it.

Mourning-fans were common with the more loyal portion of the community; these also consisted of concealed portraits of Louis and his family, and are usually decorated with black gauze and spangles; the inscription, ‘Vive le Roi!’

A favourite device was a pansy or heart’s-ease (‘that’s for thoughts’), with the portraits appearing on the principal petal, upon the fan being held against the light. These obtained later, when popular opinion, becoming tired of the Revolution and its consequences, was again veering round in the direction of Royalty.

But who is this pale-faced citoyenne of aristocratic mien, in high ‘constitutional’ hat, with black cockade, fan in hand, asking leave to speak with citizen Marat?... Charlotte’s fan is mentioned in the deposition of Laurent Bas, who was working in the house at the time; certain it is that the fan was not relinquished when the blow was struck. The ‘trade,’ fearful lest the event should cast discredit on their goods, immediately brought out fans ‘à la Marat.’ The most popular of these reproduce the tribune with Lepelletier, Charlier, and Barras. This, with its burden of pikes and caps of Liberty, was bought by the Jacobin customers at forty-eight livres a gross. An example occurs in the Bibliothèque Nationale, where, singularly enough, it is pasted in an album bearing the arms of Marie-Antoinette, and is believed to have been arranged by the queen herself.142

On another fan, ‘Liberty’ is seated between medallion portraits of Pg 226Marat and Lepelletier; the inscription, ‘Marat,’ ‘Liberté Unité,’ ‘Peletier.’ Ultimately the event itself figured as the principal subject of a fan, Charlotte being represented as carrying a dagger in one hand and a fan in the other.

The debate on the 4th February 1794 on the abolition of the slave-trade forms the subject of a fan (illustrated). Three years previously, Grégoire and Robespierre had passed an act whereby coloured persons born of free parents were placed on an equality with whites. The fan-makers, ever ready to seize upon a popular incident, promptly issued a fan with five figures, representing ‘France,’ ‘Mercury,’ ‘The Colonies,’ ‘England,’ and the ‘United States,’ holding scrolls with inscriptions in English, heraldic devices on either side. La France, with shield bearing staff of Unity and cap of Liberty, is saying, ‘We find true happiness but by making others happy.’ Mercury, holding fetters, says, ‘Don’t go to deceive me nor believe you will escape. I extend my power over Sea and Land, and my vengeance will find you even at the end of the World.’ ‘The Colonies,’ dressed after the fashion of Marmontel’s Incas, exclaims, ‘Charming hope of Liberty, come and comfort my agitated heart.’ England, crowned, with a leopard crouching at her feet, and holding ‘The Colonies’ by the hand, says, ‘She offers me Guineas.’ The United States is represented by a black woman, plumed, with a sheath of arrows over her shoulder; the inscription, ‘Independence and trade all over the globe.’ The etching is signed ‘Martin.’

The projected invasion of England by Napoleon, 1803. Bibliothèque Nationale.

Cabriolets had appeared much earlier, and had continued in favour. These formed the subject of printed as well as painted fans.143 From Cabriolets it is but a step to Incroyables, who had their incredible cabriolets as well as their racehorses with slim legs and tails cropped almost to the root, the fan-makers indulging the public in their new-found Anglomania. In these curious prints, a number of which were produced by Pg 227Carl Vernet, everything is incredible—the wheels of the ‘cabs’ incredibly thin, the seats incredibly high, the figures of both sexes incredibly tall and attenuated. ‘Cabriolets,’ says Mercier, ‘are made lighter every day to give increased speed in the race for wealth.... There are now three things to admire in a fashionable “cab”—the silver body, the wheels, and the horse; the whole thing, including the owner and his groom, ought not to weigh more than a good-sized portmanteau.’

Incredibility became the order of the day. The fashionables, who abhorred the Revolution, adopted an incredible method of demonstrating their sentiments; hair was cut incredibly short behind, as it had been cut for the victims of the scaffold during the reign of terror. Further to recall the scene, they let it fall as at the moment of execution over their eyes, this being the style à la victime. A balle des victimes was given by its votaries, to which no woman was admitted who had not had a relative guillotined.144

Once again assignat-fans made their appearance: upon the death of the Republic and the birth of the Directoire, when the pendulum of public opinion was once more swinging in the direction of Royalism, the assignats being arranged so that the king’s head appeared in the centre of the fan. These, with defiant glances, were fluttered under the noses of the police by the fair aristocrats of the Palàis Égalité.145

Then came the period of the worship of Nature and the triumph of Rousseau, with the cry of ‘Long live the author of Émile, Le Contrat Social, La Nouvelle Héloïse!’, Jean-Jacques being glorified in a triumphal car drawn by two bullocks garlanded with roses.146

During the temporary lull by which every storm is followed, the preternaturally high-waisted ladies banished ennui by devotion to the Love-God; and we have many ‘Ruses de l’Amour’, ‘Triomphes de l’Amour,

Pg 228

etc. Cagliostro had some years previously departed pour ‘l’Isle de Malthe.’ Marat, Danton, Robespierre, had been severally removed from the scene of their activities: the fan-makers were at the point of despair at the absence of a new sensation, when—enter le petit Caporal!!!

Among the myriad fans recording the multifarious activities of this amazing personality,147 we have a representation of Wurmser surrendering his sword to the young general, a small medallion on either side of the battle, and a view of the city: the inscription, ‘A Buonaparte Vienen.’ The border, formed of the word ‘Buonaparte’ in large capitals surrounded by rays of light, these alternated by laurel wreaths; the fan excellently engraved by Bertaux.

At the psychological moment of Bonaparte’s appearance at the banquet given in his honour at the ‘Salle d’audience, 10 Dec. 1797.’ his ‘star,’ in the shape of the planet Venus, appeared in the heavens at midday. Here indeed was an opportunity for the fan-makers, who promptly produced a fan of an astrologer with telescope, surrounded by an excited crowd, who declared the appearance to be a comet. This, says Henri Bouchot, gave the signal to the Agréables who dressed themselves and their hair à la comète, à l’étoile, and showered stars in all directions.

We also have a reference to the proposals of peace to the allied powers by Napoleon on his elevation as First Consul in 1799. Bonaparte is here crowned by Fame and Peace; points to a map of Europe held by a figure of the French Republic, who also bears the tricolour inscribed, ‘Nouvelles Républiques, Règne des Arts, Alliance avec les Français.’ From a pedestal the French cock utters its clarion note. To the left, Victory inscribes on a monument the names of Napoleon’s generals. Above in a glory the legend, ‘Paix Glorieuse An VI.

Adventure in Russia. Schreiber Collection British Museum.
Marriage of Napoleon with Marie Louise. Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

On another fan referring to the same event, Napoleon is discovered Pg 229standing by a figure of Peace who bears the olive branch; the inscription, ‘Bonaparte et La Paix.’ Right and left are figures of Commerce and Agriculture, and in the background a group of peasants express their joy.

In the really handsome fan engraved in stipple by Godefroy we have an apotheosis of Bonaparte. A bust of the Emperor within an oak wreath occupies the centre, with the genii of Immortality and Plenty bearing their attributes; on either side, allegories of Peace and War in medallions associated with arabesque. The inscription, ‘Dessiné Par Chaudet, Fontaine et Persier; Gravé Par Godefroy.’148

The great ‘Descente en Angleterre, 1803,’ forms the subject of a number of fans. Napoleon, to the accompaniment of Fame’s trumpet and the rataplan of the drum-major, shows his troops the Channel, and points to St. Paul’s(!) and the Tower (French version), on an island.

The Channel is tunnelled (in imagination), troops pour through with ammunition, cannon, and other paraphernalia of war. Above, a fleet of vessels on the sea, and an army of balloons in the air, invade the devoted island, which defends itself by means of captive kites, sky rockets, and the guns booming from the fortifications at Dover. This in several versions.149

The crowning of Napoleon as King of Italy at Milan, on May 23, 1805, is recorded, as also the Peace of Tilsit, 1807, by which Prussia was stripped of almost half of its territory. On this latter fan, Napoleon, the Emperor Alexander, and the King of Prussia appear on a raft.

In 1810 the Emperor, in all the bravery of feathers, leads the Archduchess Marie-Louise to the altar of Hymen; La France offering a diadem of stars.

Pg 230

Of fans referring to the Russian campaign of 1812 two appear in the Schreiber collection. In the one, Napoleon is seen on horseback, attended by a general, surveying his army, the troops saluting; in the other, the journey to Paris in a sledge drawn by three horses at full gallop, Napoleon, wrapped up in furs, looking back on the wounded and dead lying in the snow. Both fans inscribed, ‘Aventuras de Bonaparte en Rusia en 1812.’

In the subject of the Nicaragua Canal the fan assumes the role of prophet, and with this we must bring to a close this brief carnival of a century. On the 12 Vendémiaire of the year XII., one Martin la Bastide deposited in the Bibliothèque Nationale two prints of a fan setting forth his scheme for uniting two oceans through the lake of Nicaragua. He had already made the suggestion twelve years previously in Laborde’s Histoire abrégée de la mer du Sud.

He was not, however, the first to demonstrate the feasibility of cutting a canal at Nicaragua; a similar proposal had been made by the Portuguese navigator, Antonio Galvão, as early as 1550, and in the following year the Spanish historian, Gómara, submitted a memorial to Philip II., urging in forcible terms that the work be undertaken forthwith. ‘The project was, nevertheless, opposed by the Spanish Government, who concluded that a monopoly of communication with their possessions in the New World was of greater importance than a passage by sea to Cathay.’150

Two fans referring to this subject appear in the Schreiber collection; in the one, the map of Central America on the front, and of North America on the reverse, a portion missing: and in the other, the composition complete. The fan is adorned with, on the left, a group of allegorical figures of the four Regions of the world listening to Mercury, the god of commerce, who points out the course of the proposed canal; on the right, a reference to La Bastide’s appeal to the King of Spain, who is here listening to the voice of France urging him to complete the canal; and an elaborate Pg 231border of ships, tritons, etc., with a summary of La Bastide’s investigations. Alas for vain hopes, and the futility of human endeavour, the best laid schemes are often doomed to disappointment, and it was not until nearly a century had elapsed that the canal, which La Bastide foresaw, though as through a glass darkly, had any prospect of realisation.151

IVORY FAN. (Madras. Nineteenth Century.)

Pg 232



IN England the fan’s comments on the public events of the eighteenth and the latter years of the preceding century begin with a satirical allusion to the intrigues of European diplomacy concerning the affairs of Poland. Ten female figures representing France, Spain, Sardinia, Empire, Saxony, Russia, Poland, Britannia, Holland, and Prussia are seated round a table, the first seven playing piquet; an empty chair, labelled ‘I pray to God for peace,’ is reserved for the Pope (Innocent XI.), who is seen on the left protesting that he does not understand the game. A figure in civilian dress in the foreground is holding a scroll which is lettered, ‘’Tis not the interest of the nation to play without advantage. In time Commerce might pay the cards.’ On the extreme right is the Sultan of Turkey on horseback, exclaiming, ‘If you don’t leave off, I’ll tear the cards,’ with the Shah of Persia on foot, saying, ‘Seigneur Jack, Persia shall make you change your note.’ The date is between 1679 and 1689, the period of the pontificate of Pope Innocent XI.

A New Game of Piquet among the nations of Europe. Schreiber Colln. British Museum.

The coronation banquet of George II. in Westminster Hall, on October 11, 1727, is recorded in an extremely primitive etching. The king and queen are enthroned on a daïs in the centre of the fan; in the background are galleries of spectators, and in front the champion of England throws Pg 233down his gauntlet. The subject is enclosed in a cartouche, and on the sides of the fan are the crown, sceptre, ampulla, vestments, etc.; the whole rudely coloured by hand.

It was, possibly, as some recompense for its author’s gallant defence of their most powerful weapon that the ladies helped to swell the tide of prosperity of the Beggar’s Opera, produced in November of this same year (1727). Fans were carried illustrating the favourite songs of the piece, which enjoyed its successful run of sixty-three nights, ‘making Gay rich and Rich gay.’

The defeat and withdrawal of Sir Robert Walpole’s excise scheme provided the occasion for many satires which appeared during the year 1733. In these Walpole is represented as an itinerant quack doctor, and as an exciseman, in which latter character he was hanged and burned in effigy on April 12th of the same year.

In the fan a comparison is drawn between Walpole and Wolsey, and on a medallion portrait of the last named is inscribed:

‘Wolsey and his Successor here in one behold.
Both serv’d their masters, both their Country Sold.’

A figure is seen walking in a garden with two papers in his hands, the one inscribed, ‘Liberty and Property,’ and the other, ‘No Dutch Politicks. Down with the Excise.’ In the mid-distance a figure holds a purse and draws attention to the portrait of Wolsey. Two barrels are figured in the foreground, together with the Excise Monster in the throes of death, on the body of which are inscribed the various articles affected, as Printing, Salt, Malt, Gin, etc.

The print has apparently been cut down, and evidently forms part of a design or series of designs.

M. Gamble advertises as follows in the Craftsman of June 9, 1733:—

‘This day is published for all Loyal Ladies, an Excise Fan; or the Political Pg 234 Monster as described in Fog’s Journal, May the 5th, curiously delineated, Being a Memorial for Posterity. In this most agreeable fan is represented:

‘I. A Picture of Cardinal Wolsey (the first Excise Master of England) done from an original Painting.

II. A view of his Feats on one Hand, and those of his Successor on the other.

III. An English Lawyer with two honest Briefs.

IV. The famous Monster-Monger, Ferdinando Ferdinandi, drawn to the Life.

V. The Death of the Excise Monster.

VI. A modern Inquisition with an Assembly of Merry Spectators (as Vintners, Tobacconist, etc.) of Ferdinando’s Lamentation over his departed Beast.

‘Tis in the Power of every British Fair
To turn Excises of all kinds to Air.’

‘Sold by M. Gamble at the Golden Fan in St. Martin’s Court near Leicester Fields. Price 2s. 6d.’

On August 25 of the same year, M. Gamble again advertises the fan and adds:—

‘This is the Fan mentioned in the London Magazine; it will be very useful at all meetings for nominating Members of Parliament, not only for cooling the Heats which may arise, but to show the nature of an arbitrary Monster.

‘Now is the Time when every British Fair
May turn Excises of all kinds to air.’

‘There is now published the third Edition with additions.’

The marriage of the Crown Princess with the Prince of Orange in 1734 was the occasion of much rejoicing, and the nuptials were celebrated with the greatest magnificence, the prince receiving with his bride the sum of £80,000 as portion. In an address to His Majesty from the loyal and dutiful citizens of London, the greatest glory, the brightest triumphs, the most distinguished prosperity are presaged from another alliance with that truly illustrious house, the house of Nassau; ‘from whencePg 235 so many heroes have sprung, the scourges of tyrants and the asserters of liberty.’

The fan joins in the general congratulatory chorus; a view of the marriage ceremony in the French Chapel of St. James’s Palace is given; the King and Queen, with the royal family, are seated in boxes at the back.

There was an allegorical version of this event, in which the contracting parties appear in classic costume, with a bishop and other persons in the background in the costume of the period. In front Hymen lights his torch from that of Cupid. In other parts of the composition are seen: An infant embracing a lamb, a pelican in her piety, an infant Hercules killing serpents, etc. The whole surrounded by an orange border.

Several variations of this are extant, one omitting the orange-trees, with a border printed from another plate.

The following advertisement appeared in the Craftsman for July 7, 1733:—

Just Published

‘By Jonathan Pinchbeck, Fanmaker, at the Fan and Crown in New Round Court in the Strand; and sold by him, and at the Fan-shops of London and Westminster.

‘The Nassau Fan; or Love and Beauty Triumphant: Being an Encomium on the Nuptial Ceremony which will shortly be consummated between his Highness the Prince of Orange and the Princess Royal of England; adorned with the Pictures of those illustrious Personages, attended by Hymen, Fame, Minerva, Cupids, etc. Together with a copy of Verses and other Decorations suitable to the occasion.

N.B.—Beware of Counterfeits; the true original Nassau Fans having the name (Pinchbeck) prefix’d to the mount.’

On August 18th this advertisement is repeated, with the additional statement that ‘there are a few neatly printed on leather for the curious,’ and a note to the following effect:—‘A spurious edition of the Nassau Fan has been lately offer’d to the publick, in Prejudice to the Original Nassau Fan; but as all Persons that have seen both are fully satisfy’d that it bearsPg 236 no comparison with the former, ‘tis no wonder that the Design to lessen the original in the esteem of the Publick, proves as fruitless as the Attempt is unfair and ungenerous’; this evidently referring to the following, which had appeared in the Craftsman a week earlier, August 11:—

This day is Published

‘The New Nassau Fan, humbly dedicated to her Royal Highness Princess Anne,

By her Highness’s most humble
and devoted servant,
Richard Hylton.

‘In this fan is represented the Portraitures of his Highness William, Prince of Orange and Nassau, etc., and her Royal Highness Princess Anne (done from the original Painting of Van Dyke and Hysing), in an Orbit, supported by Cupids, adorn’d with other emblematical Ornaments, disposed in a curious and beautiful Manner.

‘To be had of the aforesaid Richard Hylton, at the Golden Fan in Great George St., Hanover Square.’

On September 1st this advertisement is repeated, with the addition of the following couplet:—

‘Just Heaven does Anne and Nassau joyn,
To glad great George and Caroline.’

And the following reply to Pinchbeck’s advertisements of 7th July and 18th August:—

N.B.—This is to inform that ingenious Gentleman (who calls himself) the Proprietor of a Nassau Fan, that he has been guilty of a very gross Error, and has prejudiced himself by informing the Publick that he knows no Difference between a Fan which is made like the Frontispiece of a Halfpenny Ballad, and one that’s done in a curious Manner by one of the best Hands in England.’

The Motion. 1741.
The New Nassau Fan. 1733.
Schreiber Colln. British Museum.

This sally calls forth the following rejoinder from Pinchbeck, who, on September 15th, repeats his former advertisement, with this footnote:—

N.B.—I would not have the splenetick Author of (as he calls it) the loyal Nassau Fan imagine that I think him capable either of doing, or saying, any Thing Worthy of Notice, tho’ for once I condescend to inform him that the Publick are sufficiently Pg 237convinc’d of his Ignorance in putting his Trifle in Competition with the Original Nassau Fan, as well as of his Malice in perverting the Sense of my Advertisement. I shall, however, submit my Performance to the judgment of the Publick, and not trouble them with quackish Epistles quite foreign to the Purpose.

‘Beware of Counterfeits. The Original Nassau Fan having the name (Pinchbeck) prefix’d to the Mount.’

On September 22nd, Pinchbeck repeats his advertisement, and once again cautions the public against counterfeits. (In the highest esteem among the Ladies, and infinitely surpasseth every Thing of the Kind offered to the Publick.)

A month earlier a fresh candidate for public favour had appeared in the shape of the ‘Orange Fan,’ a composition of an orange-tree and a rose-bush, with a view of London in the distance, a three-masted vessel in the foreground, and above, a dove holding in his beak a letter addressed ‘To The Lovely She, Who has more than 80,000 Charms’; on the upper and lower border of the fan, an ode in five stanzas, ‘set to Music: Tune, Let’s be Jolly; fill our Glasses.’

This was advertised by M. Gamble in the Craftsman for August 25th, the charms of the ‘Lovely She’ being reduced in the advertisement to 30,000.

‘Once more the Orange joins the British Rose,
And fragrant Sweets they mutually disclose;
Entwin’d by Nature’s Bonds, their Charms unite,
And from the Foil the Jewel shines more bright.’

The price of the Mount painted in proper colours, 1s. 6d.
Ready mounted upon neat sticks, 2s. 6d.

The ‘New Nassau Fan,’ advertised by Hylton, is here given, and must certainly be said to bear very fair comparison with Pinchbeck’s. The portraits of the royal pair occupy a medallion in the centre, supported by Cupids above; two winged figures are holding a wreath and blowing trumpets, from which are suspended the royal arms of the two respective countries.

Pg 238

Below is a ribbon inscribed, ‘Ad Altiora Speramus,’ with a Cupid holding a royal crown and star. A scroll, at the extremities of which are two medals of George II. and William the Silent, Prince of Orange, is inscribed:

‘Brittons now yr Poems sing,
Love and Beauty Garlands bring;
Heavens Ann and Nassau joyn
To glad George and Caroline.’

In addition are figures of Peace with olive branch and dove, and Liberty holding cap on a staff, together with a Bible inscribed ‘B. Sacra,’ a lion at her feet.

The fan is freely etched, coloured by hand, and mounted on plain wavy wooden sticks.

Pinchbeck continued to advertise his fan until April 20, 1734, when, presumably, popular interest in the affair waned.

In 1730-33, Hogarth produced his ‘Harlot’s Progress’ (commenced at the time of his marriage), its various scenes being promptly pirated by the fan-makers. Mr. F. G. Stephens, in his Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires, British Museum, vol. iii. part I, page 28, refers to fans printed with copies from ‘A Harlot’s Progress,’ three designs being on each side of the fan, usually printed in red ink. These fans, says Nichols, Hogarth’s biographer, were customarily given to the maid-servants in Hogarth’s family, doubtless as moral lessons.152 M. Gamble had advertised them during the year 1733 in the Craftsman and Daily Journal. In a footnote to his advertisement of the Church of England fan we have the following:—

N.B.—‘For those that are Curious, a small number are work’d off on fine Paper, fit to Frame. Likewise a new Edition of the ‘Harlot’s Progress’ in Fans, or singly to Frame.’—Daily Journal, Jan. 24, 1733.

By the kindness of Mr. C. Fairfax Murray we are enabled to illustrate Pg 239an excellent example of one of these very rare fan leaves, inscribed in ink (probably by the collector Baker), ‘Given to me by Mrs. Hogarth, 1781.’ In the centre is the quack doctor, printed in a greenish yellow, the two side scenes of ‘Bridewell’ and the ‘Funeral’ in a rich red, the fan being engraved in pure line. The scenes are inscribed respectively—‘In a high Salivation’; ‘In Bridewell beating of Hemp’; and the ‘Funeral’; with suitable explanatory verses.

The Harlot’s Progress, after Hogarth. Mr C. Fairfax Murray.

Other fans were issued, these probably by another publisher, giving the various scenes grouped together, the figures slightly rearranged to suit the space, indifferently etched in outline, and printed in red on skin. Five leaves appear in the Schreiber collection; the first gives the whole composition; the second, the same, with several scenes omitted; the third, with further omissions; the fourth, with the central subject only, of the arrival of ‘Mary Hackabout in London,’ partially coloured by hand; the fifth, a spoiled, indistinct print, covered with a Chinese landscape printed in black, the evident intention being to utilise the skin mount.

The print of the Midnight Modern Conversation, 1733, copied by salt-glazed potters of the period, and appearing on snuff-boxes and punch-bowls, for the latter of which it was eminently suitable, was used also for a fan mount.

In this print, to quote Mr. Austin Dobson, a party of eleven, whose degrees of intoxication are admirably differentiated, have finished some two dozen bottles of claret; and at four in the morning are commencing a capacious bowl of punch, presided over by a rosy-gilled parson—the

‘Fortem validumque combibonem
Laetantem super amphora repleta’

of the Westminster Latinist, Vincent Bourne; but in real life identified both with the famous ‘Orator’ Henley, and the Rev. Cornelius Ford, a dissolute cousin of Dr. Johnson.

Pg 240

In the Daily Journal for May 24, 1733, we have the following advertisement:—

This Day is Published,

‘A Beautiful Mount for a Fan, call’d the Midnight Modern Conversation, curiously performed from that incomparable Design of that celebrated Artist the ingenious Mr. Hogarth; to which is prefixed, for the Entertainment of the Ladies, a Description of each particular Person that Gentleman hath introduced in that Night Scene. Sold at Mr. Chinavax’s great Toyshop against Suffolk-street, Charing Cross; Mr. Deard’s against St. Dunstan’s Church, Fleet Street; Mrs. Cambal in St. Martin’s Court; and by B. Dickinson at Inigo Jones’ Head against Exeter Change in the Strand, at which Place they may be had Wholesale at reasonable Rates.’

No print of this fan-mount is available for reproduction.

The victory of Admiral Vernon in his good ship the Burford at Portobello, on the 22nd November 1739, though not a particularly significant feat even with six ships of the line, was immensely popular with the masses. It was a familiar subject with the potters, especially the Staffordshire potter Astbury, who commemorated it on tea-pots, mugs, and the Portobello bowl.

The fan is not very interesting as a design, the six ships appearing to overpower the fortress, which was an old one. Five stanzas of verse appear, expressing the determination to avenge the wrongs of Britons, to support her injured trade, etc.

‘Hark, the British Cannon thunders,
See, my Lads, six Ships appear;
Every Briton acting Wonders,
Strikes the Southern World with fear.
Porto Bello, fam’d in Story,
Now at last submits to fate;
Vernon’s courage gains us Glory,
And his Mercy proves us great.’

Pg 241

The etching is signed ‘F. Chassereau, April ye 22, 1740.’

Vernon’s exploit at Carthagena, April 1, 1740, is also recorded; on the left, a view of the English camp; on the right, the flying inhabitants, including a figure named ‘Don Blas’; the fan inscribed ‘Cartagena.’

The motion by Mr. Sandys in the House of Commons on January 29, 1740, and that of Lord Carteret in the House of Lords on February 13, 1741, to remove Sir Robert Walpole (who at that time was exceedingly unpopular) from his post of Prime Minister, is commemorated on a fan which is a free copy from a print published by T. Cooper at the Globe in Paternoster Row, 1741, and referred to in a letter of Horace Walpole, written from Florence to his friend Conway, March 25, 1741: ‘I have received a print by this post that diverts me extremely: the Motion. Tell me, dear, now, who made the design, and who took the likenesses: they are admirable; the lines are as good as one sees on such occasions. I wrote last post to Sir Robert, to wish him joy; I hope he received my letter.’

The scene is Whitehall, with the Treasury in the distance. A coach containing Lord Carteret, who is leaning out of the window and crying, ‘Let me get out,’ is driven by the Duke of Argyll, brandishing a flaming sword, the Earl of Chesterfield as postilion. Bubb Dodington, in the form of a spaniel, is seated between the Duke’s legs. Lord Cobham behind as footman. Lord Lyttelton follows on horseback, whip in hand. Several persons are being overridden by the coach, which is nearly overturned. Mr. Sandys, in the foreground, is dropping the ‘Place Bill,’ and exclaiming, ‘I thought what would come of putting him on the box.’ Pulteney, exclaiming, ‘Z—nds! they’re over,’ and leading his followers by the nose, wheels a barrow laden with ‘Craftsman,’ ‘Letters to the Earl,’ ‘State of Nat—’, ‘Champion,’ ‘Common Sense,’ etc., with a dice box and dice. Dr. Smalbroke, Bishop of Lichfield, accompanied by three pigs (one only in the original print), bows obsequiously.

The ten verses which appeared on the print are inscribed on thePg 242 right hand of the fan. In ‘nigger’ parlance they at once propound questions and supply the answers, thus:

‘Who be dat de Box do sit on?
‘Tis John, the Hero of North Britain,
Who out of Place does Placemen spit on.
Doodle, etc.
Who’s dat behind? ‘Tis Dicky Cobby,
Who first wou’d have hanged and then try’d Bobby.
Ah, was not that a pretty Jobb-e.
Doodle, etc.
So, sirs, me have shown you all de Hero’s,
Who put you together by the Ear-os,
And frighten you so with groundless Fear-os.
Doodle, etc.’

Thomas Wright (Caricature History of the Georges) thus refers to the prints: ‘Several editions of “The Motion” were published, and one, in the collection of Mr. Burke, is fitted for a fan. Another, very neatly drawn and etched on a folio plate, and dated February 19th, contains great variations, and wants much of the pointed meaning of the genuine print. They here appear to be driving into a river. Pulteney and Sandys are omitted; two prelates hold on to the straps behind the coach, which seems in imminent danger of falling; yet Carteret cries out to his driver, “John, if you drive so fast, you’ll overset us all, by G—d.”’

On the 2nd of March the ‘Patriots’ retaliated with a caricature entitled ‘The Reason,’ in which we have another carriage with the portly form of Sir Robert Walpole as coachman:

‘Who be dat de box do sit on?
Dat’s de driver of G— B—,
Whom all the Patriots do spit on.’

In this print, the foppish and effeminate Lord Hervey, well known by Pope’s sarcastic title of ‘Lord Fanny,’ is riding, fan in hand, on a woodenPg 243 horse, drawn by two men, one of whom cries, ‘Sit fast, Fanny; we are sure to win.’

‘Dat painted butterfly so prim-a,
On wooden Pegasus so trim-a,
Is something—nothing—’tis a whim-a.’

The fan-makers were not slow in following up with a fan. On April 25, the following advertisement appeared in the Craftsman:—

‘This day is published, by J. Pinchbeck at the Fan and Crown in New Round Court, in the Strand.

‘The Reason for the Motion. A Satire, whereon are the Portraits of divers Noble Personages. To which is annexed, Explanatory Verses, which will serve as a Key to the Whole.

‘Where may be had, All sorts of Fans and Fan-Mounts. The newest fashion, and suited to the nicest Taste. Wholesale or Retail.

N.B.—Gentlemen and Ladies may have any Device done in a curious Manner, according to their own Direction.

‘There is a Spurious Sort about the Town, which has not the Verses, and but part of the Figures.’

The Jacobite rebellion of 1745 was commemorated by a fan leaf engraved by Sir Robert Strange, intended for the sympathisers with the Pretender. The moment for the rebellion was well chosen—the king was in Hanover, the Duke of Cumberland had fought and lost Fontenoy in April of the same year, and was still engaged in Flanders. The fan shows the Prince in armour, with Cameron of Lochiel as Mars, and Flora Macdonald as Bellona.

In the fan representing the apotheosis of the Young Pretender, the Prince, supported by Mars and Bellona, is claiming the inheritance of the English crown; a figure of Fame bears the laurel wreath, at his side is an altar blazing with devoted hearts, and above are Venus and Cupid seated on a cloud. On the left, Britannia smiles through her tears as a dove approaches bearing the palm branch, emblem of Peace. On the right, Jupiter with his thunder scatters the Hanoverian faction into obscurity, andPg 244 Rapine and Murder are prostrated. An example, carefully coloured, appeared in the Walker sale in 1882, and passed into the possession of Lady Charlotte Schreiber for the sum of £7. The stick is ivory, carved with subjects and fretwork.

The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, signed October 7, 1748, was celebrated in the following April by a grand display of fireworks in the Green Park, opposite to His Majesty’s library. A fan fairly well engraved, the design well disposed, shows a view of the temporary building erected for this purpose, which consisted of a ‘magnificent Doric temple,’ with two extended wings terminated by pavilions, the whole being one hundred and fourteen feet high and four hundred and ten feet long. The exhibition began about nine o’clock in the evening, and was introduced by ‘a grand overture of warlike instruments composed by Mr. Handel.’ About eleven o’clock the whole building was illuminated, in which state it continued till between two and three in the morning; His Majesty and the royal family retiring about twelve.

The untimely death of the Prince of Wales in 1751 threw London into mourning, the fan following suit with a portrait bust of Frederick on a cenotaph, with mourning figures of Art, Science, and Britannia, a figure of Hope with an anchor occupying the foreground. The fan here, true to its antecedents, discovers more loyalty than did some of the rhymesters of the period, one of whom produced an epitaph of which the following is a portion:—

... ‘Since ‘tis only Fred,
Who was alive and is dead.
There’s no more to be said.’

Wolfe’s victory in 1759, commemorated in Bow statuettes and Staffordshire busts and jugs, supplied the fan-makers also with a subject for illustration: in a life of Wolfe it is mentioned that fans were printed of the taking of Quebec.

Pg 245

Admiral Rodney is another instance in which both potters and fanmakers vied with each other in honouring the hero of the hour. The fan in the Schreiber collection is delicately engraved in mezzotint, and shows Rodney trampling upon the French and Spanish flags. Neptune is offering a sea crown, while a Cupid above bears a laurel wreath. The picture is supplemented by festoons, ribbons, and other devices; the whole coloured by hand.

The fan abundantly testifies to the popularity of the reigning house of Hanover. Thus we have, in addition to the loyal fans already referred to, a medallion portrait of George III., held in the hand of Neptune, who is seated in his chariot drawn by four horses, and driven by a Cupid who blows a blast from a trumpet. This designed by Uwins and engraved in stipple by Cardon.

The king also appears as the subject of a large medallion on a pedestal surrounded by Cupids and a figure of Fame with trumpet. In the foreground are figures of Britannia and Commerce; on a tripod with a flaming heart is inscribed, ‘The Heart of the Nation.’ On each side the initials G. R. and the royal crown. Published May 13, 1791, by A. P. Birman, the fan being signed A. P. Birnam, Invt.; W. Hinks, Sculpt. This fan leaf is a free copy from that engraved by D. Chodowiecki in 1787, commemorating the accession of Frederick William II. to the throne of Prussia, and was made to do duty both for the King and the Duke of York by the alteration of the bust, and the substitution of the initials D. Y. for G. R., the arabesques re-engraved.

The royal family appear on six medallion portraits united by a ribbon, with the royal crown, feathers, and a trophy of arms, flags, etc., the latter indicating the martial proclivities of the Duke of York.153

Pg 246

Another fan gives a large Royal Arms surmounted by the crowned lion, with the rose and thistle and the initials G. R. in medallions on either side, united by festoons of flowers with doves; the royal motto, ‘Dieu et mon Droit,’ on a scroll below; the fan inscribed, ‘Vive Le Roy.’ Published by T. Balster, March 19, 1789.

A ‘Representation of a Royal Concert at Buckingham House’ is a copy of an engraving by Barlow after a drawing by Cruikshank. ‘Publish’d as the Act directs, October 16, 1781, by J. Preston at his Music Warehouse, No. 97, near Beaufort Buildings, Strand.’ In the subject occupying the centre of the fan, the king appears seated at the right-hand corner. At the sides, a canone and canzonet by Giordani, together with a French and Venetian canzonet, with music.

In 1788 the royal family honoured the exhibition of the Royal Academy with a visit; this event being commemorated on two fans varying considerably in the number and disposition of the figures, and in the arrangement of the background. The fan leaf in the Schreiber collection is designed by ‘P. Ramberg, P. Martini, Sculpt. Pubd March 6, 1789, by A. Poggi, St. George’s Row, Hyde Park,’ this being from Martini’s original plate, also published by Poggi, cut down to the shape of a fan.

The fan leaf at present in the collection at South Kensington is printed on vellum and tinted, and is accompanied by an engraved key to the different personages depicted on the fan.

Visit of George III. to the Royal Academy. Mr F. Perigal.

The marriage of the Prince of Wales (afterwards George IV.) to Princess Caroline of Brunswick, in 1795, provides the occasion for a fan, with two oval medallion portraits in stipple of ‘The Illustrious Pair,’ on either side of a large Prince of Wales’s feathers. ‘Publish’d Janry 1, 1795, by J. Read, 133 Pall Mall.’ The same plate was printed in colours and published on the same date. The ‘Royal Pair’ again appear in the form of medallion portraits, with the Royal Arms of Great Britain and Pg 247Brunswick. Still another fan commemorative of this event shows bust portraits of the prince and princess in the midst of a medley of prints, riddles, etc., with a frieze of caricature busts of various personages. ‘Published at Sudlow’s Fan Warehouse, 191 Strand.’

‘The Prince of Wales’ (Schreiber collection of unmounted fan leaves, No. 11) is a quite charming fan leaf. The medallion portrait is printed in a warm brown, the field of the fan painted in blue of a pleasant quality, the ornaments painted in silver and Chinese white. This is a scheme of colour adopted on many fans of the period; the four colours forming an extremely effective harmony.

The popularity of Lord Howe’s victory over the French on the ‘glorious first of June,’ 1794, is evinced by the frequency with which it was commemorated on English pottery in the shape of statuettes, medallions, mugs, jugs, etc. On the fan also we have the subject of a seated Britannia bearing a medallion portrait of the admiral; the union jack, lion, cornucopia, and a figure of Fame completing the composition. The fan inscribed, ‘Lord Howe’s decisive victory over the Grand French fleet, June 1, 1794.’ This published by B. Coker, 118 Fleet Street, August 19, 1794. An example occurs in the collection of Mr. Burdett-Coutts.

A ‘view of the trial of Warren Hastings, Esq., at Westminster Hall’ in 1778, is given in the centre of a fan having oval medallions at the sides with references to the numbers on the engraving, as follows:—

‘A. Honble House of Commons. B. Foreign Ministers. C. Duke of Newcastle’s Gallery. D. Councell for the Prosecution. E. Councell for the Prisoner. F. Dukes, &c. &c. G. Peeresses. H. Board of Works. I. The Throne. K. Recess for His Majesty. L. Recess for the Royal Family. M. Judges. N. Lord High Chancellor. O. Vicounts and Barons. P. Warren Hastings, Esq., Prisoner. Q. Committee of the House of Commons.

‘Publish’d as the Act directs by Cock & Co., No. 36 Snow Hill. Septr. 22nd, 1788.’

Pg 248

Church-fans appeared in the early part of the century.154 These were designed for the purpose of inculcating the spirit of true piety during the hours of divine worship. Comments were made in the public journals on the unsuitable character of fan mounts used in church, and also on the general behaviour of persons of both sexes. These culminated in an amusing satire which appeared in the form of a letter from Vetustus, in the Gentleman’s Magazine for May 1753. In this the writer expresses some surprise that ‘in the course of the controversy now on foot concerning the expedience of a revision of our liturgy, no mention has been made of some ceremonies introduced by certain polite persons of both sexes, who, if they may not be styled the pillars, have undoubted right to be called the ornaments of the Church of England. That of the snuff-box may be allowed to obviate some part of the objection to the length of the service, since it precludes the drowsy members of the congregation from any subterfuge in that excuse of Horace:

“Operi longo fas est obrepere somnum.”

The writer desires also ‘to do a piece of justice to the ladies who have lately contrived to improve the service of the Church, though by so inconsiderable an implement as a fan mount; for, reflecting that some of the grosser sex may probably come to church chiefly on account of these fair beings, and that the devotion of these their brethren might cool by having the immediate object of it withdrawn from their view, during the tedious intervals of prayer, they have been so charitable as to supply them with some edifying subjects of contemplation, depicted on the very cloud which intercepts the beatific vision.’

As an instance of the taste and discretion of these fair votaries, a Pg 249list is subjoined of a dozen designs elegantly executed, which were actually displayed by way of screens to so many pretty faces, disposed in a semicircular arrangement about the holy table:

  1. Darby and Joan, with their attributes.

  2. Harlequin, Pierrot, and Columbine.

  3. The Prodigal Son with his harlots, copied from the ‘Rake’s Progress.’

  4. A rural dance, with a band of musick, consisting of a fiddle, a bag-pipe, and a Welch-harp.

  5. The taking of Porto Bello.

  6. The Solemnities of a Filiation.

  7. Joseph and his Mistress.

  8. The humours of Change-Alley.

  9. Silenus, with his proper symbols and supporters.

10. The first interview of Isaac and Rebecca.

11. The Judgment of Paris.

12. Vauxhall Gardens, with the decorations and company.

The writer is ‘well aware that the authors of the free and candid disquisitions will be humbly suggesting, in their canting way, whether some of these figures may be altogether suitable to the original design of that sacred rite, at which they assist on these occasions; and whether, if our British ladies are too nicely modest to worship God with naked faces, they should not return to the ancient simplicity of a plain linnen or Sarcenet veil, after the manner of the Jewish females. But, besides that all impropriety is absolutely removed from these representations by the mixture of so much Scripture history, these Cavillers must be told that this is an old objection answered and baffled long ago by the pious and conscientious Dr. Swift (whose tender concern for the honour of the Church of England is well known) in a religious sonnetPg 250 which closes with an elevated sentiment couched in the following couplet:

“How beauteous is the Church, which makes clean linnen
As decent to repent in, as to sin in.”’

This bone of contention, apparently, lasted during a considerable period.

In the Lady’s Magazine for March 1776, a ‘Female Reformer’ addresses to the fair sex some ‘moral reflections’ on ladies’ fans, and draws attention to the loose, almost indecent, mounts ladies have to their fans at the present day, giving too much reason to suppose that a coarse, indelicate, and immodest picture is not so offensive to the view of the fair as prudence, virtue, and chastity could wish. ‘Not many Sundays ago, I was seated in a dissenting place of worship in the next pew to two young ladies, who appeared suitably attentive and devout; but, happening to cast my eyes on the fan mount of the youngest of the two, as she stood up in prayer time, I was really ashamed to see naked Cupids, and women almost so, represented as sleeping under trees, while dancing shepherds and piping fawns compleated the shameful groupe. What a pity it is that any lady should seem to countenance immodesty or indecency in the least degree, especially in the house of God! Would it not have been much better for ladies to have no fans at all, than to have such mounts to them, as, on beholding, tend only to inflame the passions, and promote the loosest ideas?’

Evidently this protest bore good fruit, as, three months later, a church-fan of chaste design appeared. This gives, in the centre, a diagram of a good woman’s heart, divided, as a phrenological diagram divides the brain, into the several virtues or attributes, as Charity, Humility, Chastity and Honour, Virtue and Truth, etc. etc. Above the heart appears a drapery inscribed, ‘The Address of a Scripture Looking-glass to every Woman’—this consisting of the following texts: Proverbs xxxi. 30; 1 Peter iii. 3; 1 Timothy iv. 8. At the two extremities of the fan arePg 251 scrolls with ‘a description of a good woman,’ and a poem entitled ‘The Wish’—this latter being a prayer and supplication to the Almighty to

‘Be the guardian of the virtuous fair,
Bless them with all things that they truly need,
And in Religion’s paths their footsteps lead.’

The whole design enclosed in a scroll with a rose and honeysuckle filling the intervening spaces. Printed, as the Act directs, for J. French, No. 17 Holborn Hill.

In May 1796 ‘the new church-fan’ appears, a much more pretentious design, engraved in stipple, and ‘published with the Approbation of the Lord Bishop of London.’ The Ten Commandments are given in the centre, with the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed on either side; these are alternated with medallions of angels, above which are prayers for the king’s majesty and the royal family. At the extreme top of the fan is a figure of the Holy Spirit with three cherubs, the whole being enclosed within an elaborate border formed of royal crowns and Prince of Wales’s feathers.

Mindful of the protest of the ‘Female Reformer’ in the Lady’s Magazine, although perhaps somewhat belated (it will be remembered that the ‘naked Cupids and ladies almost so’ were observed in a dissenting place of worship), the ‘chapel-fan’ appears, in July of this same year, 1796, having in the centre a large medallion of the resurrection of a pious family, after a picture by the Rev. W. Peters, inscribed, ‘Glory to God in the Highest,’ and on either side smaller medallions representing ‘St. Cecilia’ and ‘The Infant Samuel at Prayer.’ The fan is further inscribed with a morning and evening prayer and two hymns—‘The Example of Christ,’ and ‘On Retirement and Meditation.’

A number of fans were from time to time issued with subjects from Scripture history, doubtless for church use, as ‘The Birth of Esau and Jacob,’ in which we have an illustration of Rebekah in bed, attended byPg 252 female servants; ‘Moses striking the Rock,’ Published by M. Gamble, according to the late Act, 1740; ‘Paul Preaching at Athens,’ etc. These, however, are extremely weak productions, exhibiting none of that sense of character distinguishing similar subjects treated by the Staffordshire potter of this and a later period.

Mr. Thomas Osborne’s Duck-Hunting records an event in the history of a bookseller of Gray’s Inn Gate, Holborn, at his country-house at Hampstead in 1754. A certain Captain Pratten, who had obtained some notoriety through his very particular attentions to the wife of Mr. Scarlett, an optician of Soho, ‘whose Microscope for viewing opake objects is still in use,’ but who, apparently, did not possess any microscope or optic glass through which he might view events which were sufficiently transparent to every one but himself, had proposed to Mr. Osborne that by way of house-warming he should ingratiate himself with the families of Hampstead, ‘then a Watering-place and very gay,’ by giving a public breakfast for the ladies and a duck-hunting for the gentlemen.

On the morning of the 10th of September of the year in question the company assembled, the broad panniered petticoats of the ladies making a very brave array, and, the breakfast and duck-hunting proving so successful, our waggish Captain, who had installed himself master of the ceremonies, mindful, doubtless, of his own private and particular duck-hunting, persuaded the vain and simple bookseller to prolong the entertainment, first by a cold collation and other diversions, and finally by a dance, in which the ‘younger part of the company tripped on the light fantastic toe till bedtime.’

As a souvenir of the event, the gallant and resourceful Captain further persuaded Mr. Osborne to have a fan engraved and presented to each of the lady visitors.

Mr Thomas Osborne’s Duck Hunting,
obverse & reverse.
Schreiber Colln., British Museum.

This is engraved on both sides; on the obverse, the duck-hunting, Pg 253with the Captain and his innamorata in the immediate foreground; on the reverse, a general view of the house and grounds.155

Conversation- or speaking-fans are devices by which the different motions of the fan are made to correspond with the letters of the alphabet, a code being established by means of which a silent and secret conversation is carried on.

Five signals are given, corresponding to the five divisions of the alphabet, the different letters, omitting the J, being capable of division into five, the movements 1 2 3 4 5 corresponding to each letter in each division. 1. By moving the fan with left hand to right arm. 2. The same movement, but with right hand to left arm. 3. Placing against bosom. 4. Raising it to the mouth. 5. To forehead.

Example:—Suppose Dear to be the word to be expressed. D belonging to the first division, the fan must be moved to the right; then, as the number underwritten is 4, the fan is raised to the mouth. E, belonging to the same division, the fan is likewise moved to the right, and, as the number underwritten is 5, the fan is lifted to the head and so forth. The termination of each word is distinguished by a full display of the fan, and as the whole directions with illustrations are displayed on the fan, this language is more simple than at first sight might appear.

The Gentleman’s Magazine for 1740 prints the following effusion, referring presumably to one of the earliest of these fans:—

‘A speaking fan! a very pretty thought;
The toy is sure to full perfection brought:
Pg 254 It is a noble, useful, great design,
May the projector’s genius ever shine!
The fair one now need never be alone!
A hardship sometimes on the sex is thrown;
For female notions are of that extent
Impossible, one I thought should give ’em vent.
New schemes of dress, intrigue and play,
Want new expressions every day:
And doubly blest! must be that mortal man,
Who may converse with Sylvia and her Fan.’

‘The Original Fanology, or Ladies’ Conversation fan,’ was invented by Charles Francis Badini, and published as the Act directs by Wm. Cock, 42 Pall Mall, Aug. 7, 1797.

‘The telegraph of Cupid in this fan,
Though you should find, suspect no wrong;
’Tis but a simple and diverting plan
For Ladies to chit-chat and hold the tongue.’

A fanology fan, of different design but with the same directions, invented by Badini, was published five months earlier (March 18) by Robert Clarke, Fanmaker, No. 26 Strand, London.

The new conversation or tête-a-tête fan gives as a centre medallion Venus robbing Cupid of his Bow, with inscribed compartments on both sides, having reference to the Answer and Question of the Lady to the Gentleman.

The language of the fan has already been referred to in an earlier chapter, portions of the code being given. See Spanish fans, page 137.

Gypsy, fortune-telling and necromantic fans form a large class, and were common during the latter part of the eighteenth century. As early, however, as Aug. 3, 1734, a necromantic fan was advertised in the Craftsman as follows:—

Pg 255

‘By Eo, Meo, & Areo.
On Monday last was published
The Necromantick Fan; or, Magick Glass.
Being a new-invented Machine Fan, that by a
slight Touch unseen a Lady in the Fan changes her
Dressing-Glass according to the following Invitations:
If any one himself would see,
Pray send the Gentleman to me:
For in my Magick Glass I show
The Pedant, Poet, Cit, or Beau;
Likewise a Statesman wisely dull,
Whose plodding Head’s with Treaties full.
Made and sold by Edward Vaughan,
Fanmaker, at the Golden Fan near the Chapel in
Russel Court, Drury Lane.’

A necromantic fan was issued by Gamble; ‘Dear Doctor consult the Stars,’ representing an old necromancer being consulted by ladies.

‘Gypsy’ fans are invariably arranged according to a regular principle. A medallion in the centre, of a Gypsy telling fortunes, the different cards, together with their significance, arranged in four rows over the general field of the fan, and at the top, or on the reverse, the explanation, or directions for telling fortunes. The ‘Gypsy Fan’ conforms to this rule so far as the medallion is concerned: in lieu, however, of the cards with their explanation we have a series of floral festoons, borders, etc., painted by hand. The fan ‘made by Clarke and Co., at their Warehouse, the King’s Arms, near Charing Cross, Strand, London. Inventors of the much esteemed sliding Pocket Fan.’156

The ‘Oracle’ has in the centre a wheel of fortune with two winged Pg 256children on clouds, one of whom holds a scroll inscribed ‘Oracle.’ On the sides of the fan the names of the ten greater gods and goddesses, in ten columns, the names disposed differently in each. On the lower part of the fan the ‘Explication’ of the Oracle, and ‘examples’ together with the questions, as—‘Whether one is to get Riches; Whether one will be successful in Love; What sort of a Husband shall I have’; etc. etc. On the reverse are heads of the gods and goddesses with their attributes, with ten columns of inscriptions, each containing ten answers to questions.

Pub. accord. to Act, Jany. 1, 1800, by Ino. Cock, I. P. Crowder & Co., No. 21 Wood Street, Cheapside, London.

The ‘Wheel of Fortune, by which may be known most things that can be required,’ presents us with a variation of the foregoing. The wheel occupies the centre of the fan, with four female heads representing—1. Bath Gypsy. 2. Norwood Gypsy. 3. Corsican Gypsy. 4. York Gypsy. On the one side of the fan, ‘Phisiognomy,’ with directions how to read it; on the other, ‘Perilous Days,’ with a prognostication of the date and manner of death of Napoleon, viz., by suffocation or drowning, at the latter end of 1810 or beginning of 1812. J. Fleetwood, Sc., 48 Fetter Lane.

An interesting class of fans is that illustrating popular and fashionable resorts, entertainments, etc., as Bartholomew Fair, Bath, Ranelagh, Vauxhall Gardens, the Crescent at Buxton, etc.

Henry Morley, in his interesting Memoirs of Bartholomew Fair, has given us an amusing description of the fan sold in that annual saturnalia, where Henry Fielding once had an interest.

‘Here are drolls, hornpipe-dancing, and showing of postures;
Plum-porridge, black pudding, and opening of oysters:
The tap-house guests swearing, and gallery folks squalling,
With salt-boxes solus, and mouth-pieces bawling;
Pimps, pick-pockets, strollers, fat landladies, sailors,
Bawds, baileys, jilts, jockies, thieves, tumblers, and taylors.
Pg 257 Here’s Punch’s whole game of the gun-powder plot, sir,
Wild beasts all alive, and pease porridge hot, sir;
Fine sausages fried, and the black on the wire;
The whole court of France, and nice pig at the fire;
The ups-and-downs, who’ll take a seat in the chair-o,
There are more ups and downs than at Bartleme Fair-o.’
G. A. Stevens. 18th Cent.

The humours of the piece are mainly technical. Our Bartholomew artist, having his own views of perspective, has carefully economised the number of his figures and left out at discretion bodies or legs in the treatment of which he was embarrassed. Thus the leg of a drinking-stall serves also for the wooden leg of a bibulous person standing by. A man with, apparently, but one arm, salutes, in a manner at once distant and peculiar, an apple-woman, who lifts up her basket by the apples that are in it. Our artist, finding that the fourth stall of his machine ‘Ups and Downs’ would complicate his picture, has left it out altogether, and with a view also to artistic effect, has denied legs to the gentleman who is tasting his ale with so much relish, while the hot sausages (for these curious figures of eight are intended for sausages) grow cold upon his plate.

Pie Corner, with its delicate pig and pork, is depicted, with Sir Robert Walpole, orders and all, issuing from the shop.

The fan is engraved in mezzotint, the various subjects forming a very excellent mosaic of pattern: it was re-engraved and published by J. F. Setchel in 1829, and was accompanied by a description of the fair, in which the date of 1721 was assigned to the original. This and other inaccuracies being first pointed out by Henry Morley, who showed that the Droll of the siege of Bethulia, containing the ancient history of Judith and Holofernes, with the comical humours of Rustego and his man Terrible, said to be performing in Lee andPg 258 Harper’s Booth, was not presented at that famous establishment until 1732.157

A version of the well-known print, after Canaletto, of the Rotunda, garden, and buildings at Ranelagh is given on a fan in the Schreiber collection, engraved by N. Parr, 1751.

A view of the Crescent at Buxton also appears enclosed in an oval medallion, with the inscription, ‘Crescent, Buxton.’

The following advertisements relative to these subjects appeared in the Craftsman:—

‘June 15, 1734.

‘Just Published. By Jonathan Pinchbeck, Fan Maker, etc.
(accurately delineated on a Fan Mount)

‘The Humours of New Tunbridge Wells; being a Draught of the House, Gardens, Well, Walks, etc., with the different Airs, Gestures, and Behaviour of the Company, and all other rural Entertainments of the Place. Taken from the Life: by an eminent Hand.’

‘July 2, 1737.

This day is Published

‘The new Vaux Hall Fan; or the rural Harmony and delightful Pleasures of Vaux-Hall Gardens; with the different Air, Altitude, and Decorum of the Company that frequent that beautiful place; done to its utmost Beauty and Perfection.

‘Whereon is shewn the Walks, the Orchestra, the grand Pavillion, and the Organ, which far excels any Thing of the kind yet offer’d to the Publick.

‘Sold at Pinchbeck’s Fan Warehouse, etc.

‘Where may be had, The Dumb Oracle; and the Royal Repository, or Merlin’s Cave; and all sorts of Fans of the newest Fashion, wholesale or retail.’

The Trial of Warren Hastings. Mr. W. Burdett-Coutts. M.P.
The Parades of Bath, 1737. Mr. W. Burdett-Coutts. M.P.

In the interesting fan, giving, within a large cartouche, a view of the Parades, and Old Assembly Rooms at Bath, 1737, Beau Nash appears Pg 259in the foreground in lilac coat, with a white hat under his arm,158 addressing a bevy of fashionable ladies; at the sides are floral and diapered ornaments in the Chinese taste.

The example illustrated, which is coloured with extreme care, was acquired by the Baroness Burdett-Coutts at the Walker sale in 1882. This is the mount referred to by Pinchbeck in his advertisement of

‘June 3, 1738.

‘This day is Published on a Fan Mount (Fit for the Second Mourning or in colours) An accurate and lively Prospect of the celebrated Grove at Bath, whereon the rural Pleasures and exact Decorum of the company are curiously represented, with some cursory Observations on the Behaviour of Sundry Persons, particularly the famous B. N.

‘Likewise the rural Harmony and delightful Pleasures of Vaux-Hall Gardens. Also the Royal Repository, or Merlin’s Cave; being an exact Emblem of that beautiful Structure erected by the late Queen in the Royal Gardens at Richmond.

‘Sold wholesale or retail at Pinchbeck’s Fan Warehouse, etc., by Mr. Crowbrow, at the India House on the Walks: and at Mr. Dalassol’s and Mr. Weakstead’s Shops in the Grove at Bath.’

Two fans were published in June 1757 by G. Speren, giving a view of the interior of the Pump-Room at Bath, and the Orange Grove, with obelisk, garden, and buildings.

Lady Charlotte Schreiber quotes the following advertisement which appeared in the Craftsman during this year:—

‘This day is publish’d, by Jonathan Pinchbeck, Fan-maker, at the Fan and Crown in New Road-Court in the Strand, and sold by him Wholesale and Retail.

‘The Bath Medley; Being an accurate and curious Draught of the Pump Room at Bath, and most of the known Company who frequent it, adorn’d with Pg 260the Portraitures of her Royal Highness the Princess Amelia159 and other illustrious personages who honour’d the Place with their Presence the last Season; wherein the Topicks of Discourse and Conversations of Companies are impartially consider’d; their different Behaviours, Airs, Attitudes, etc., judiciously represented; the Foppery of the Beaus hinted at, and the Intrigues of the famous B— N— and others fully exploded. Taken from the Life, and finely delineated in above fifty Hieroglyphical figures.

N.B.—A spurious pyratical Copy of this Fan is lately publish’d, which is not like the Place it should represent, and may easily be discover’d from the Original by its having Pillars to support the Musick Gallery, and in the Middle is wrote The Bath Medley.’

The first Pump-Room was opened in 1706, with all the éclat of a public procession, and a musical fête, at which was sung a song specially composed in honour of King Bladud, the father of Lear, and mythical founder of Bath, recounting the story of his glorious deeds, and his soaring ambition, which, Icarus-like, finally overreached itself.160

Pg 261

The sequel to the story is to be found in the following quotation in Meehan, Famous Houses of Bath:—

‘Vex’d at the brutes alone possessing
What ought to be a common blessing:
He drove them thence in mighty wrath,
And built the stately town of Bath.
The Hogs, thus banished by the Prince,
Have liv’d in Bristol ever since!’

The Pump-Room illustrated on the fan was erected in 1732, and was, together with the Assembly-rooms, really the creation of Beau Nash, who persuaded one Thomas Harrison to build a room for dancing on the east side of the Grove, with access to the bowling-green, which then became known as Harrison’s Walks. To maintain his supremacy, Nash rented the Pump-Room from the corporation, and put it under the charge of an officer called the Pumper, and for a while induced Harrison to accept three guineas a week for the Assembly-rooms and candles.161

The Grove was re-named the Orange Grove by this same worthy, who erected the obelisk in the centre in commemoration of the visit of the Prince of Orange who came to Bath for the benefit of his health.



The exterior of the Rotunda, house, gardens, etc., at Ranelagh, is given on a fan mount in the Schreiber collection, this being a copy of a Pg 262print entitled ‘Vue de l’Extérieur de la Rotonde. Maison & Jardins, etc., à Ranelagh. ‘Canaleti, delin.’ ‘N. Parr, sculpt.’ Published according to Act of Parliament. December 2, 1751.’

Opera fans give plans of the boxes at the Opera, with names of the occupants. An example in the Schreiber collection is inscribed: ‘New Opera Fan for 1797. W. Cock. Publish’d as the Act Directs for the Proprietor, by Permission of the Manager of the Opera House, 42 Pall Mall.’

The following advertisement appeared in the Times of January 1, 1788:—

The Opera Fans.
‘To the subscribers and frequenters of the King’s Theatre.

‘Last Saturday were published according to Act of Parliament. The Delivery, however, was put off until the re-opening of the Opera House next week, for the purpose of presenting them in the best state of improvement.

‘These fans are calculated to present at one view both the number of boxes including the additional ones, names of subscribers, etc., and have been carefully compared with the plan of the House or kept at the office, and will be sold only by the proprietor, Mrs. H. M., No. 81 Haymarket, where she will receive with respectful gratitude any commands from the ladies and wait on them if required.’

A fan published on the same date, January 1, 1788, by Clarke and Co., appears in the Schreiber collection, and gives the plan of the King’s Theatre for 1788; the centre box bears the names of the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland and that of the Duke of York; the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Fitzherbert being in box sixty-three on the right.163

Fans illustrative of the ‘tender passion’ naturally form a large class, and may be divided into the following groups:—

1. Satirical and Amusing.

2. Pastoral, Social, and Fancy.

3. Subjects from Classic Mythology, as ‘The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche,’ ‘The Theft of Cupid’s Bow,’ ‘The Offering of Love,’ etc.

Pg 263

Maps of the affections were common both in this country and on the Continent, and are invariably designed on the principle of the Italian fan, ‘Il Paese del Matrimonio,’ referred to page 269.

The following advertisement appeared in the Craftsman for January 13, 1732-3:—

‘Daniel Chandler, Fan maker in the Strand over against Southampton St., who invented and sold the Lilliputian Fans,164 and Variety of other pleasant Fans, is now provided with a Parcel of fashionable Fans, neatly mounted, representing the map of Tender, which may afford Entertainment both for Ladies and Gentlemen who are Tenderly inclined, and disposed to be agreeably merry.

‘These fans and Mounts are likewise sold by Michael Burnet, Fan maker, at the Hand and Fan, over against Friday St. in Cheapside.’

On the same date, Saturday, January 13, 1732-3, Pinchbeck announces the ‘Courting Fan Mounts.’

‘An Embleme of the Four different Stages of life finely delineated in seven hieroglyphical Figures. Being a lively representation of the Address of young Lovers, the Raptures of a new-married couple; the reciprocal Harmony of Antient wedded companions; and the abject, wretched state of an Old Maid. Illustrated with a Paraphrase, on each cut, which serves as a Key to the whole.

N.B.—At the abovesaid Place may be had all sorts of Fans and Fan-mounts of the newest Fashion, and at the lowest prices, wholesale or retail.’

On April 20, 1734, Pinchbeck advertises:

‘The Old Man’s Folly.—In this Fan is represented an old Miser, who at the age of Fourscore had the Vanity to court a young lady of Twenty; she despises his Addresses, and Cupid shoots Thunder at his Head: in this Dilemma, Bacchus invites him to a Banquet at the Nectarius Grove; whilst the Eye of Heaven shines propitious on the Raptures of a youthful couple.

‘Where may be had

‘The abject, wretched state of an Old Maid, and divers other curious Fans; the Designs taken from the best Masters.’

Pg 264

These two fans had been announced earlier by Pinchbeck on Jan. 15th of the same year, as follows:—

‘Just Published.... The Amours of an Old Batchellor, or the Downfall of Sir Limberham; likewise the four different Stages of Life; or the abject, wretched State of an Old Maid. To each of these Fans are prefix’d, Verses suitable to the Occasion, which explain the Design.’

M. Gamble, on August 11, 1739, advertises

‘A new Fan, wherein is delineated a Damsel bewailing the Loss of her Lover, who is represented as cast away in a Storm.

‘Where may also be had, a Fan lately publish’d entitled The Sailor’s Wedding, being made to the glorious and immortal Majesty of Queen Elizabeth.’

‘Before and after Marriage’ gives expression to an idea which also supplied a favourite motif for English and especially Staffordshire pottery. On a cream ware jug, with illustrations of courtship and matrimony, we have the following couplets expressive of the two contrasting conditions:—

‘In courtship Strephon careful hands his lass
Over a stile a child with ease might pass.’
‘But wedded, Strephon now neglects his dame,
Tumble or not, to him ‘tis all the same.’

The fan leaf, published in Paris, but also issued in England, illustrates two scenes, in the former of which Cupid smiles approvingly: in the latter, Cupid in the background is overwhelmed with grief at this instance of Strephon’s indifference; above are inscriptions in French and Spanish: ‘La Complaisance de l’Amant ou Huit jours avant,’ and ‘L’indifférence du Mari ou Huit jours après.’ The fan etched from drawings by William Williams, a name which suggests an English origin of the idea.

A Trip to Gretna. Schreiber Colln, British Museum.
‘Bartolozzi’ Fan. Mrs Frank W. Gibson. (Eugenie Joachim.)

A similar contrast is drawn in two fans published by J. Read, Feb. 20, and Nov. 1, 1795, 133 Pall Mall: ‘The Good Swain’ gives three oval medallions of ‘The Morning of Youth,’ ‘Mid-Day of Life,’ and ‘Chearful Evening Pg 265of Old Age,’ each subject being provided with four lines of verse commencing with, ‘Unless with my Amanda blest.’

The ‘Good-for-nothing Swain’ gives ‘The Vow of Constancy,’ ‘The Hour of Infidelity,’ and ‘Cupid’s Farewell,’ the verses commencing, ‘With soothing Smiles he won my easy heart.’

Both fans bear the name of ‘G. Wilson,’ who appears on a number of fans of this period both as designer, engraver, and publisher, and evidently supplied designs, or stock, to other publishers.

Among the more successful humorous fans are those giving, in a series of medallions along the border of the fan, ‘A selection of Beau’s, Whimsical, Comical, and Eccentrical; or Candidates for the Ladies’ Favour’; and ‘The Ladies’ Bill of Fare, or a Copious Collection of Beaux.’ The various kinds of lovers are each provided with a suitable inscription above and below, as: ‘A Spark of some Conceit, Let me die if I don’t believe she thinks of me Night and Day,’ ‘A Man of high price, I am determined not to Marry any Woman under a Dutchess,’ etc. ‘The Merry Lover,’ and ‘I Live, Love, and Laugh,’ etc. In the centre of the fans, underneath a flying Cupid, are verses in further elucidation of the subject:

‘That simple thing—A woman’s Heart,
How oft ‘tis play’d upon;
What Beau’s oft cause its painful smart,
And triumph when they’ve done.’
‘Mark well our Motley Group above,
The little shun—the Honest love.’

and on ‘The Ladies’ Bill of Fare’:

‘To plague and please all womankind,
Here’s Gallants sure a plenty!—
Chuse then a Beau to suit your mind,
Or change ‘till one content ye.’

Pg 266

These fans are engraved in mixed line and stipple, the name ‘G. Wilson, delt.,’ appearing on the first mentioned, with ‘London, published May 25, 1795, by I. Read, No. 133 Pall Mall.’ On the latter, ‘Published as the Act directs by G. Wilson, 14 Feb. 1795, 108 St. Martin’s Lane.’

Other fans having reference to the affections, and issued by the same publisher, are: ‘The Progress of Love’ in the five stages of ‘Cupid Relieved’; ‘Amantha Rewarded’; ‘Pastime of Love’; ‘Altar of Hymen’; ‘Connubial Bliss’; ‘The Lady’s Adviser, Physician, and Moralist, or, Half-an-Hour’s Entertainment at the Expense of Nobody!’ and ‘The Quiz Club’—the latter giving twelve circular medallions of ridiculous characters round the border of the fan, with suitable descriptions underneath:

‘This young Spark is perfectly a man of Taste—dresses like a gentleman—swears like a Nabob, and believes the Ladies think him a clever fellow.’


‘This Man (wonderful man he should be called) is a learned Ass. Speaks gramatically nice, looks very solemn, and expects ye Ladies to understand his consequence, happy are they who win his smiles.’


‘A fit Man for a closet—give this gentleman retirement, he requires to bear Compy with none but invissibles—Gods, Goddesses, Genii, Fauns, Sylphs, Naiads, Dryads, & ye like.’

‘An unfit Man to be alone—one that his associates have nicknamed Bob Drowsy, he can find no amusement but in his tongue, & if he is left half an hour alone he falls asleep.’

In an oval medallion in the centre is the following:—

The Quiz Club.
Dedicated to all Beaus in Christendom.
By S. A., Professor of Physiognomy and Correction of the Heart.

Dear Madam, ask your loving Quiz
If here he ‘Spies his own Dear Phiz;
Pg 267 And if mark’d out some fault he find,
Like one or two which warp his mind,
Bid the defaulter hence amend
And be the Sexes honour’d friend.

‘Publish’d by Ashton & Co., No. 28 Little Britain, May 1st, 1797, & Enter’d at Stationers’ Hall.’

Trips to Gretna were among the earliest results of the abolition of Fleet marriages by Lord Hardwicke’s New Marriage Act of 1753, one of the most famous of these clandestine marriages being that of Richard Lovell Edgeworth ten years later. The fan illustrates, in six scenes, the progress of a love match from the first meeting, to a marriage at Gretna, and final forgiveness by the bride’s father—‘The First Impression,’ ‘Mutual Declaration,’ ‘The Refusal,’ ‘The Flight,’ ‘The Journey’s End,’ ‘The Reconciliation.’

This subject also formed a favourite motif for the Staffordshire potter of the period, who produced a number of groups characterised by that quaint humour which appears to be native to him. It will be observed that in the fan, as in the pottery figure groups, the popular idea of the ‘blacksmith’ is perpetuated. This popular notion, however, is thus disposed of by Jeaffreson, the historian of matrimony (Brides and Bridals): ‘There is no evidence that any one of the Gretna Green marriages was solemnised in a smithy, or that any one of the famous Gretna Green ‘couplers’ ever followed the smith’s calling. One of these so-called parsons had been a common soldier, another a tobacconist, a third a pedlar, and all of them drunkards and cheats, but no one of them ever shod a horse or wrought an iron bolt.’

The state of widowhood also supplies the motif of a number of fans, the subject usually taking the form of a woman in classical costume, mourning over an altar, urn, or tomb; the central figure-subject generally engraved in stipple, the landscape completed by hand. Several examplesPg 268 are in the Schreiber collection, the most successful being that signed ‘F. Burney, del.; H. Meyer, sculpt.’

In the third group, subjects from classic mythology, the prevailing method or decorative scheme is that of an engraved medallion, large or small, occupying the centre of the fan, to be enclosed in, or incorporated with, an ornamental setting painted by hand; the character and treatment of the subject representing that pretty, sentimental quasi-classicism which set in about the middle of the century, and which we associate with the names of Cipriani, Angelica Kauffmann, and the engraver Bartolozzi. A characteristic example is the design by G. B. Cipriani, R.A., of Orpheus and Eurydice emerging from Hades, their way being lighted by the torch of Cupid. The medallion is engraved in stipple, the field of the fan being completed by ornaments in black, grey, pale blue, and silver.

A variation of this decorative scheme has three medallions with arabesque ornamentation also engraved, the fan usually being sold uncoloured but occasionally tinted; an example being ‘The Power of Love’—a Cupid riding on the back of a lion, engraved by Bartolozzi from the antique gem by Protarchos at Florence, with two smaller medallions of Cupids. ‘Publish’d as the Act directs, March 1, 1780, by A. Poggi.’165

An interesting fan in the Wyatt collection is printed on chicken skin, with an almanac in Spanish, decorated with the signs of the Zodiac in circles, and borders of fruit, flowers, etc., coloured and gilt. The stick and guards of pierced and carved ivory, painted.

A class of fan popular both in France and England, during the middle and latter half of the eighteenth century, has a medallion subject or series of subjects superimposed upon a streamer of lace; this last

Pg 269

being carefully engraved and coloured, the subjects painted, often with great elaboration. An excellent French example occurs in the Wyatt collection, with a cartouche enclosing a battle-piece, flowers, and insects introduced amongst the lace; the stick mother-of-pearl, gilt and silvered, with ‘gold-fish’ inlay; the whole colour effect extremely fine.

Printed fans were by no means confined to France and England, although it is in these countries that the practice obtained most extensively; fans were issued in Germany giving portraits of the Emperor Leopold II. and his wife, Maria Louisa of Spain, and their family; of Frederick II., who is represented as in Elysium, having just embarked from Charon’s boat; of Frederick William III. and Queen Louise of Prussia, and of Madame Royale, in allusion to her release in 1795 and her subsequent arrival in Vienna. The famous engraver Chodowiecki also produced several fans, prints of which occur in the Berlin Museum.

Two Italian examples may be referred to. The subject known as grotesque animals was obviously executed as a central subject, the field of the fan to be completed by hand. It is an extraordinarily skilful engraving of a number of animals playing different antics. In the centre is a monkey in cocked-hat and feather, extracting with a pair of forceps a tooth from a fowl who is laying an egg the meanwhile. Sympathetic birds are perched around, and a squirrel is in attendance with a glass of refreshment on a tray. The design is made up of similar grotesque incidents—as a dog with a pair of tongs over his shoulder, returning from a rat-catching expedition; a porcupine reading a book with the aid of a magnifying glass; a fox with two young foxes riding on the back of a fish which is duly provided with a huge pair of spectacles, etc. etc. The humours of the piece are too many to be described in detail. No publisher’s or artist’s name appear. The extreme length is nine inches.

In the subject ‘Il Paese del Matrimonio,’ the centre of the fan is occupied by a Cupid standing in a boat, saying: ‘Andiamo, chi viene alPg 270 paese del matrimonio,’ and ‘Venite, signorine, Ciascana delle vostre madri falto prima di voi questo viaggio. La mia barca è della più leggiere, se non vi condurre a buon porto non mi pagherete.’ On either side are maps of two imaginary countries—Terra del celibato and Paesi del matrimonio, with pictorial representations of the various places. The former apparently is the country of tranquillity; on it are figured the Tempio della pace, the Fontana della quiete, the Città dell’ independenza, the Paradiso terrestre.

The country of matrimony is approached by the Golfo del Rimprovero which lies between the Capo della dissimulazione and the Rupe della gelosia. In this country are discovered the Città d’isagiosa; the Tempio della discordia, shown as falling to pieces with a volcano hard by; the montagna dell’ infedeltà, from which springs a stream emptying itself into the Lago dell’ indifferenza. On the farther side of this country of unrest lies the Golfo della luna di miele.

Of the processes of engraved fans, the most usual is that of etching, often finished (sweetened is the technical term) by means of the graver or burin. Pure line-engraving is frequently employed, although most line-engravers make use of the etched line as a foundation for subsequent work with the burin. Etching is occasionally supplemented by stipple-engraving and the free use of the roulette. Many fans are painted in a brownish black ink with the flesh-tints in red; in others several colours are introduced, thus anticipating the modern process of coloured etching. This latter is practically a system of painting upon the plate in colours, and can scarcely be considered as a legitimate process, although the result in modern coloured etching is often interesting, and in some instances even admirable. Aquatint was also employed, especially during the earlier years of the nineteenth century, on a number of fan leaves illustrating the Peninsular War. Many of these were produced in London by Behrmann and Collman, for the Spanish market, withPg 271 inscriptions in Spanish. Portraits of the Duke of Wellington were also popular.

After the introduction of lithography many fans were produced by means of this process, invented by Aloys Senefelder of Munich about 1798; all lithographed fans must therefore be of a subsequent date to this.

This process was employed as a groundwork for subsequent painting, often carried to a high pitch of finish, so much so, that it is difficult for any but a practical eye to detect the lithographic foundation. Examples of these fans, which include a great variety of subjects, appear in most collections.

Lithography has been employed during the whole of the nineteenth century for the decoration of fans, and is largely in use at the present time.

(Taken from the King’s Palace at Benin, 1897. Horniman Museum, Forest Hill.)

Pg 272



WE now gather together the various threads of our subject at the point where they were left, viz. the close of the Empire. We have found that during two centuries and a half—from 1600 to 1800, with a little overlapping at either end—the fan passed through the various stages of development and decline; that during the latter years of the sixteenth century both Italy and France, but especially the former, produced objects which may be legitimately described as fine art; that in France, if we make allowance for, and accept a different standard of taste and fashion, the most exquisitely dainty things were produced, the period of Louis XV. being that of the highest development of the art, with a steady decline from thence onwards.

During the first three decades of the nineteenth century the fan languished. The storm and upheaval of the Revolution, the general unrest caused by the Napoleonic wars, were among the chief contributing causes, together with the fact that the great families had fled from France, taking their fans with them. For the first fifteen years of the century, there is little to record except a difference of proportion. ‘Towards 1800,’ to quote M. Rondot, ‘the brins were only 6 or 7 centimetres to the Pg 273gorge; towards 1813 this was increased to 8 centimetres, and to 19 centimetres in 1841.’

Wedding Fan, the gift of Queen Victoria, silk leaf. H.R.H. Princess Henry of Battenberg.

‘When the brisés returned into favour in 1804,’ continues this author, ‘the fan-makers employed leather, silver, copper, asses’ skin, and cardboard. The blades were short, and were made by the cutters who ornamented them; this was also the case with the fans of horn which were fashionable towards 1829-30.’

Three examples are given of the earlier years of the century: the first, from the collection of Miss Moss, formerly belonged to Miss Charlotte Yonge the authoress, and is worked upon a foundation of net, with cut and pierced steel decorations. The painted subject in the centre represents a lady seated in a garden, and a boy with hoop and dog; the stick of pierced ivory piqué with silver. An Italian example almost identical with this, with the exception of the painted subject, appears in the Museo Civico, Venice.

The fan of asses’ skin, from the same collection, is cut to a perforated pattern, painted in the centre with a subject of birds and flowers, the outside blades of ivory, the whole piqué with silver. These peau d’âne fans were used by élégantes at balls, as tablets upon which the names of partners for the dance were inscribed by means of a leaden or silver pencil. The colour is a light slaty-grey; their size averaged from 9 to 10 inches.

The fan which, by the courtesy of Mr. Leopold de Rothschild, we are enabled to illustrate, is elaborately cut to fine perforations, and painted with a large medallion in the centre representing a music lesson, a number of smaller miniatures on the blades, with gilding.

In 1827 the fan was the provocative cause of the conquest of Algeria by the French. A blow on the head of the French consul from the plumed fan of Hussein Dey resulted in an apology being demanded and refused, with the consequent declaration of war.

‘In the course of the year 1828,’ says M. Uzanne, ‘at the time of representations of a comic opera entitled Corisandre, as the heat wasPg 274 suffocating, the youthful dandies fainting languidly in their boxes, it occurred to a Paris manufacturer to sell green paper fans to the men, and the whole theatre was therefore furnished with them. Fashion adopted this innovation of masculine fans, which received the name of Corisandres, but this originality endured but a short time in Paris, as also in Venice and the principal cities in Italy, where men became familiar with the play of the fan;—the beaux abdicated the sceptre of the woman, and resumed as before their Malacca canes.’

An amusing story is told of a near-sighted French writer, who, on a sultry summer evening at the Opéra, was much incommoded by the flip-flapping of the fans of two persons who sat immediately behind him. Turning to the two delinquents, My dear ladies,’ said he, in the politest of tones, ‘if you will kindly moderate the use of your fans you will render me the happiest of men.’ Instead, however, of the dulcet tones of a lady’s voice, a deep bass smote his ear, and he found himself confronted with the black-bearded, furious, and reddened visages of two lieutenants of the Guards. The amende quickly followed.

It was the circumstance of a grand ball given at the Tuileries in 1829 that occasioned the renaissance of the fan. Madame la Duchesse de Berri was organising a Louis XV. costume quadrille—fans of the period were required to complete the tout ensemble, and none were available. At length one of the guests recollected an old parfumeur in the Rue Caumartin, named Vanier, who had collected ancient fans: these were conveyed to the palace, where, in the quadrille, they created extraordinary interest—were eagerly purchased, and from this time onward in the most exclusive circles, in spite of the fickleness of that jade, Fashion, the fan has retained its hold upon the affections of the fair.

The earliest result of this revival of taste for old fans was, perhaps naturally, a general imitation of old models, and lifeless reproductions of the fans of the Louis Quinze period were made.

Fan of Asses Skin, perforated & painted, silver paillettes. Miss Moss.
Miss Charlotte Yonge’s Fan. Miss Moss.

Pg 275

It will readily be perceived that this way did not lead to artistic salvation—that it served no good purpose to open up the graves of a dead century and to disturb its poor ghosts. It is true that things were changing for the worse, but there is a healthiness in the very act and spirit of change, even though that change should represent a temporary decline.

This is the epoch of which it will be said that men actually, by some mysterious means, were deprived of what may for present purposes be called their sixth sense, when, though their eyelids were unclosed, they saw not, or only in a perverted manner; it is, nevertheless, one of the curiosities of this most singular epoch that while the general level of artistic attainment was so low, its pictured shadows so dark, the prevailing gloom should be illuminated here and there by lights more bright and intense than in the two preceding epochs. In other words, while we fail to trace with any measure of certainty any single instance, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, of an artist of the first calibre touching the fan, during the first half of the century that succeeded, the fan may boast of such names as Horace Vernet, Ingres, Isabey, and others only a little less distinguished. These represent the welcome oasis in the dreary desert of mediocrity—the limpid springs at which from time to time we may pause for a few moments to refresh ourselves. Of the work of these famous painters, an ‘Arab dance’ by Horace Vernet is recorded; as also ‘Diana and Endymion,’ the subject treated in the Etruscan style by Ingres, who constantly in his pictures introduced fans, as witness the portrait of Madame Devauçay, referred to in an earlier chapter, ‘The Odalisque,’ and ‘The Harem.’ We have also, later, an ‘Allegory of the Arts’ by Robert Fleury, a ‘Fête’ by Gérome, and fans by Diaz, Vibert, Lami, Glaize, and Jacquemart.

‘The revolution of 1848,’ says M. Rondot, in his report on the 1851 Exhibition, ‘would have crushed the French fan industry if it had not been for the orders for exportation. The production, which in Paris amountedPg 276 to the value of three million francs in 1847, was reduced by half in the disastrous year that followed; of 565 workers of both sexes 315 were thrown out of employment. At the time of writing’ (1854), continues this author, ‘the industry was in a very flourishing condition.’ This prosperity has been maintained to the present day, ‘Paris being still the only city where a fan may command the price of a hundred pounds.’166

The number of artists and workers employed in Paris and the Oise, says M. Duvelleroy in his report on the Paris Exhibition of 1867, is 4000; the annual value of the production being ten million francs, of which three-fourths is for the foreign market. ‘Paris et la Chine ont seuls le monopole du commerce des éventails, mais c’est aujourd’hui, en Europe, une industrie toute française, pour laquelle le monde entier est notre tributaire.’167 The evidence of this exhibition, further affirms this author, showed that France incontestably held the first rank.

‘Spain, who for thirty years had tried to organise her industry, has only arrived at the production of the commoner classes of fans. Italy, who uses fans greatly, does not make them; Portugal being only the third in the European market.’ The British record is correspondingly poor. ‘In the Great Exhibition of 1851,’ says Lady Bristol, ‘there was not one single fan of British manufacture exhibited,’168 and so far as painted fans are concerned, the statement made by Redgrave in his notes to the Catalogue of the Fan Exhibition at South Kensington in 1870, ‘that there were no English fanmakers living except those who made cheap and coarse fans, is substantially correct to-day.’169

Empire Fan, Ivory brisé,
10” x 5-7/8”.
Mr Leopold de Rothschild. C.V.O.
Portuguese Fan, painted view, lacquered stick, c.1800. Mr J.H. Etherington Smith.

The evidence of the fans themselves bears out these statements. The instance may be cited of an engraved fan in the Schreiber collection (No. 69, Mounted Fans) recording Mr. Albert Smith’s ascent of Mont Pg 277Blanc in 1851, bearing the imprint of the French firm, ‘Leroux et Cie., Fan’s Manufactr., 41 rue Notre Dame de Nazereth, Paris.’ This obviously produced exclusively for the British market.

From Germany comes similar evidence of French pre-eminence; the wedding fan of the Grand Duchess of Baden, exhibited at Karlsruhe in 1891, is signed by a French artist, ‘A. Soldé, 1855,’ who produced a number of fans, and is made by a well-known French maker, Frédéric Meyer of Paris. This is painted with the subject of a sacrifice at the Altar of Hymen, and portrait busts of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess, the initials F. and L., together with ‘Coblentz, 30 Sept. 1855,’ and is a typical fan of the mid-nineteenth century.

Of the work of Soldé, a most excellent example, Le Bal d’Amours, is given, graciously lent by H.R.H. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll. The leaf is signed on both obverse and reverse, ‘A. Soldé,’ and inscribed, ‘Grand Bal donné sous le patronage de Madame.’ The mother-of-pearl stick finely pierced and carved. This formed part of the famous collection of Queen Victoria.

In 1859 an event occurred of the most fateful interest for the fan, M. Alphonse Baude of Sainte-Geneviève (Oise) having invented his system of cutting and carving the sticks à jour by machinery! Let us understand clearly what this means to us. Nature, ever bounteous, provides us gratis, without any patent dues, with an instrument—the human hand—the most exquisitely delicate and complicated machine known to us; this instrument is directed by a force—the human mind—still more subtle, if possible, in the delicacy of its operations. In place of this, M. Alphonse Baude, in his wisdom, offers us his conglomeration of wheels, axles, metal bolts, and screws! The intelligent fan-lover will therefore note this date, and carefully examine any fan sticks made subsequent to it.

Fans, however, have been made from time to time having reasonablePg 278 claims to the possession of artistic qualities. M. Rondot mentions a fan carved in mother-of-pearl and signed by Camille Roqueplan for Duvelleroy, that sold for 1000 francs. A Danish sculptor, M. S. G. Schwartz of Copenhagen, exhibited at Paris in 1867 an ivory fan carved with reliefs of the Seasons after Thorwaldsen; a most beautiful work.

Another brisé fan, finely pierced and carved, presented by the ladies of Copenhagen to H.R.H. the Princess of Wales (Queen Alexandra) on the occasion of her marriage in 1863, gives five circular medallions, the centre having the initials A. A. surmounted by the crown, the other four of classical subjects. Underneath, a processional group of Apollo in his chariot, the Graces and the Muses; above, a border of Cupids holding wreaths of flowers; the guards richly embossed in gold, with foliage, flowers, etc., in high relief. The above instances, as well as others that might be named, are exceptional; there can be no possibility of doubt that while the leaves of fans, upon occasion, due to the fact of artists of high calibre having essayed the fan, present some advance, the work of the stick, during the whole of the nineteenth century, exhibits a serious falling off from that of the preceding epochs. This unsatisfactory state of things can only be remedied by a general advance in public taste, by the creation of a demand for the higher class fans, and by individual artists of approved skill turning their attention to this class of work.

During the latter half of the nineteenth century, three prominent éventaillistes of Paris, MM. Duvelleroy, Alexandre, and Aloys van de Voorde, have made most strenuous efforts to revive interest in the higher class of fans, and have exhibited work by such distinguished painters as Gavarni, Colin, Hamon, Philippe, Rousseau, Karl Müller, Diaz, Eugène Lami, Glaize, Compte-Calix, Couture, Corot, Wattier, Soldé, Garnier, Mme de Girardin: and such well-known sculptors as Jean Feuchère, Klagmann, Jacquemart, Riester, the brothers Fannière, Eugène Berger, Bastard, Lanoy, Vaillant, and others.

Lace Mount presented by the Earl of Crewe to H.R.H. Princess Mary on her marriage. Youghal Co-operative Lace Society.
An Entomologist painted by J.L. Hamon, stick by G. Rembert. The Countess Granville.

Pg 279

Of the work of Gavarni we have unfortunately no example illustrated; a fan by him appeared at South Kensington in 1870, exhibited by the Comtesse de Nadaillac. Of other fans enlivened by his light and humorous touch, two, says Blondel, have become famous: the first was commissioned by Duvelleroy for Queen Victoria: the second, estimated of perhaps greater value, formed part of the Empress Eugénie’s rich collection. Mirecourt, in his biography of Gavarni, tells the following anecdote. Upon an occasion of the contents of his fine portfolios being praised, he cried, ‘Allons donc! in drawing I have never done but one thing passable; it is a fan for the Empress.’

Gavarni visited this country in 1847, but does not appear to have recommended himself personally to his hosts. He may be counted fortunate in the fact of his having, in spite of a certain spirit of contradiction in his character, impressed the value of his work upon his fellows during his lifetime. Great men, like angels, but too often come upon us unawares, and it is only upon their leave-taking, or after, that we become sensible of the loss of a gracious presence.

The delicate and refined art of Jean Louis Hamon was especially suited to the fan. For a considerable period he was associated with the Royal Porcelain works at Sèvres, producing a number of designs of that light fanciful character with which we are familiar in his paintings. He continued this style of composition, says M. Walther Fol, but applied it to the decoration of fans, in which he excelled. ‘In every sovereign court they were a coveted possession, and if he had desired to supply all demands he could have produced nothing besides.’ The subjects of these delicate fancies in almost every instance have reference to love or marriage. There were Loves who shot arrows transfixing two hearts at once; there was Love with outspread wings, seated upon the raised end of a see-saw, while Hymen, crowned with flowers, held him on high by his weight.

A dress fan made by Alexandre, and painted by Hamon with thePg 280 subject of ‘An Entomologist,’ and groups of flowers on either side by a well-known flower painter, was presented to the Countess Granville by the foreign commissioners of the Universal Exhibition, Paris, October 26, 1867. The stick is of ivory, carved by C. Rambert with dancing Cupids and foliage, enriched with ormolu and jewelled turquoise. The gift was accompanied by a graceful letter from Mr. (afterwards Sir Henry) Cole, the British Commissioner, referring to the fan as a work of fine art by ‘two distinguished French painters and one sculptor.’ It is, however, more valuable as a souvenir of an interesting occasion, and for the beautiful carving of the stick, than as a representative example of Hamon’s work.

In 1862, J. L. Hamon journeyed to Rome, where he painted ‘L’Aurore,’ exhibited in Paris in the following year, and purchased by the Empress Eugénie. He died in 1874 at the early age of fifty-three.

Wattier signed a number of fans, of which an exceedingly rich example, an elaborate composition of nymphs and Cupids, is in the possession of the Countess Granville. He was born at Lille in 1800, and died in 1868.

The fan leaf, ‘Le Cerf de St. Hubert,’ by Rosa Bonheur (born 1822, died 1897), is dated 1896, and is consequently one of the latest works of this illustrious painter, whose fame has become universal. The legend of St. Hubert and his Christ vision, an unusual subject with modern artists, though greatly favoured by the painters of the Renaissance, engaged the attention of Rosa Bonheur as early as 1868, when she produced a crayon study, similar in treatment to this fan leaf, with the stag shown a little more in perspective, illustrated in Rosa Bonheur, sa Vie, son Œuvre, Anna Klumpke, 1908. The stag of the fan leaf, reversed however, presents many similarities to the famous picture ‘Le Roi de la Forêt,’ painted in 1878, the same studies probably being utilised for both works. The leaf is of silk, the painting in transparent pigment, with very little body colour introduced. It appeared at the Franco-British Exhibition in 1908, and Pg 281is in the possession of M. Georges Caïn, Musée Carnavalet, Paris, by whose courtesy we are enabled to give the illustration. Another fan, ‘Trois Vachers,’ is referred to in the above-mentioned biography.

Le Cerf de St Hubert, by Rosa Bonheur. M. Georges Cain

Claudius Popelin is an artist of the Napoleon III. epoch, who, in addition to his work in enamel, produced a number of fans, examples of which appear in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. These are mostly flowers and objects of natural history, drawn with considerable skill. He was much befriended by the late Princess Mathilde (cousin of Napoleon III.) who presented a fan of her own work to the Empress Eugénie. In the same collection appear two fans by Ch. Chaplin, whose graceful work in painting is well known here as on the Continent.

In the art library, Victoria and Albert Museum, is a small collection of designs for fans, acquired from the Paris Exhibition of 1867, and typical of the work done during the middle of the century; the fans from these designs being made, in each instance, by Alexandre. Amongst these is a silk leaf representing the four ages of Infancy, Youth, Manhood, and Old Age, forming one group in a large cartouche, occupying three-fourths of the entire space, extremely ably painted, somewhat recalling the style of the French painter Flandrin; the colour scheme being a monotone of mauve with gold embellishments, the panel on a green ground with lightly designed ornaments, signed F. Fossey, MDCCCLXIII. A group of Watteau figures dancing, cleverly touched on a light buff silk mount, and a shepherd piping, with shepherdess and Cupid, a circle of Cupids hovering round a tree, also in the Watteau style, are examples of the lighter and daintier style of mount affected by the French artists of this epoch; the last named signed by Madame Callamatta.

Madame Bisschop, who also has a dainty touch, executed a number of fans during the sixties and seventies, including the silver-wedding fan of Mr. and Lady Charlotte Schreiber. This skin mount, now in the Schreiber collection, British Museum, though it can scarcely lay claim to the highestPg 282 qualities, is, nevertheless, charming in idea and pretty in colour; it represents a sylvan scene on the borders of a lake upon which are two white swans, a delicate allusion to the bride and bridegroom. In the centre, underneath a tree, is a Cupid turning over the pages of a large book, inscribed ‘April 10, 1880, XXV.’ The subject is enclosed within a cartouche of gold and flowers.

Once again, the Royal Fan, in its hour of need, finds a friend in royalty, on this occasion the most powerful monarch in Europe, Queen Victoria. In 1870, the period of perhaps the lowest ebb of the fan’s fortunes in this country, at the initiative of this royal lady, an exhibition was organised at the South Kensington Museum (now Victoria and Albert), when a prize of £400 was offered by Her Majesty, and four hundred and thirteen examples from the finest collections both here and abroad were shown.

The great success of this exhibition, and the absorbing interest displayed in it, naturally led to the organisation of others. Among the measures adopted by the Worshipful Company of Fanmakers for the purpose of reviving what was at one time ‘a flourishing industry in this ancient city,’ a competitive exhibition of fans was held at Drapers’ Hall in 1878, again under the protecting ægis of royalty (H.R.H. Princess Louise, now Duchess of Argyll). Twelve hundred and eighty-four fans, ancient and modern, were exhibited; gold, silver, and bronze medals, and money prizes amounting in the aggregate to £172 were awarded, the freedom of the Company being in most instances granted to the prizewinners.

Eleven years later (1889) this experiment was repeated. In addition to prizes offered by the Fanmakers’ Company, others were offered by private individuals and public newspapers, and one hundred and six works were entered for competition.

Fan mount by Claudius Popelin. Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Paris.

Pg 283

The Queen newspaper, the donor of one of the prizes, commenting on the exhibition, held at Drapers’ Hall during the month of May, said: ‘Considered as a whole, the exhibition did not come up to our expectations. The liberal prizes offered ought to have brought forward finer and more original work in a branch of minor art which is to be considered as the special province of lady artists,170 and presents so many opportunities for fanciful composition and refined taste in arranging and grouping,’ etc.

In the following year, 1890, the Fanmakers’ Company decided to hold their third competitive exhibition.

The Daily Graphic of May 17 said: ‘The exhibition of fans organised last year by the Company of Fanmakers gave so valuable an impetus to English trade in this direction, that the Company very wisely and patriotically decided to hold another this season.’

On this occasion no less a sum than £275 was placed at the disposal of the Company, to be distributed as prizes for fans and fan designs, the exclusive work of British subjects, the number of exhibits reaching the very respectable total of six hundred.

In 1891 an important exhibition of ancient and modern fans was held at Karlsruhe, under the patronage of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Baden, a sumptuous illustrated record of the exhibition being issued, the text written by Professor Marc Rosenberg. Sixteen prizes and forty-three diplomas of honour were offered for competition, in which some of the foremost continental artists took part. Of these the distinguished Austrian painter Hans Makart claims a leading place, and may be included in the already long list of artists of the foremost rank who have given their attention to fan painting. A design in crayons and water-colour by him appeared at this exhibition, and is now in the Royal Gallery at Berlin; a charming vision of a procession of children crowding the whole field of the fan, suggesting the impossibility of having too many. Professor Eugen

Pg 284

Klimsch of Frankfurt, the winner of one of the prizes, was represented by ‘The Dance,’ a composition of figures in the style of Watteau, a number of Cupids occupying the centre of the fan, which was priced at the high figure of £500. Professor Hermann Götz, director of the School of Arts and Crafts at Karlsruhe, showed an excellent classical composition on paper, of the chariot of an orb or planet. Professor Ferdinand Keller, of Karlsruhe, exhibited an apotheosis of the Emperor William I., an excellent fan mount of a pretty Cupid on a cloud, with a medallion portrait of the Empress and a large eagle. This in the possession of Mr. J. G. Rosenberg, who also owns an extremely able composition of a dance of bacchantes by Georg Papperitz.

There was also a powerful painting of the plein air school, of a pier with fishing-boats, ‘Bewegte See, Schwanenhaut,’ by Professor Gustav Schönleber; and an excellent naturalistic painting on silk of parrots, paroquets, etc., by Max Seliger of Berlin.

The above by no means exhausts the good things of this important exhibition, in which was represented practically every phase of modern art, and amply demonstrated the fact that the Germans, artists and public alike, are much more alive to the importance of the fan, both as affording an opportunity for artistic expression, and as an accessory of costume, than we are in this country.

Upon occasion, the fan has led to unforeseen and undesired consequences; a story is told of the eccentric King Ludwig of Bavaria, the gallant and prodigal admirer of the dancer Lola Montés. At one of the balls of his Court, a fair princess having inadvertently let her fan fall to the ground, the monarch hastened to pick it up and to restore it to the hands of the giddy beauty, when his forehead came in sharp contact with that of another gentleman, no less desirous than the king of paying homage to the fair. The shock was so great and so violent that King Ludwig, stunned for the moment, soon afterwards discovered growing on his Pg 285forehead that enormous wen, so well known, and as celebrated as it was unlucky.171

Autograph Fan. Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. O.M., R.A.
Autograph Fan Japanese. Mr Frank Brangwyn A.R.A.

Autograph and inscription fans, which have, during the last two or three decades become popular with the few fortunate ladies who are happy in the possession of a circle of artistic friends, are but a revival of an old-world fashion. We have referred, early in this work, to the custom of poetic inscription which prevailed in China during the Liang dynasty, and to the love-sick lady Pan, of the Han dynasty, who adopted this by way of giving expression to her unrequited love. M. Achille Poussielgue, Voyage en Chine de M. et Mme Bourboulon, says: ‘There are fans of two kinds, open and folding. The former are made of a sheet of ivory or paper, and are used as autograph albums; and it is upon the surface of these white fans that a Chinaman begs his friend to leave a sentence, a drawing, or some characters, by way of recalling the absent to his memory. These album fans, to which great or noted men affix their seals, become of great value.’ ‘In the romance, Ping-chan-ling yen, a eunuch attached to the Emperor’s household, Lieou by name, begs Chân-Tai, the noble daughter of Chân-hien-jin, to honour him by writing on a fan with her own fair hand. “My sole desire,” he says, “is to possess a fan ornamented with your verses.”’ Some of these autograph fans from the Negroni collection were sold in London about 1866, after the Chinese war, and are said to have reached the extraordinary figure of £900 apiece.

In Japan, also, a charming device for the entertainment of the guests at artistic social gatherings consisted in each member of the company making little sketches expressive of some dainty fancy, or historic incident, on fans. These were passed round, exchanged, and carried away as souvenirs of a friendly and interesting occasion.

It was a happy inspiration of the late Lady Alma Tadema to revive the autograph fan in the form of sign manuals of famous artists and musicians.

Pg 286

The fan consists of twenty-six blades of plain wood on which appear the signatures of such famous painters as Bastien-Lepage, Joseph Israels, Du Maurier, Legros, accompanied in most instances by characteristic sketches; and of such musical executants as Charles Hallé, with, in several instances, the addition of a few bars of music. The sketches are dated 1879.

The fan of Mrs. Arthur Lewis is a development of the same idea. This has nineteen blades, and the space between the rounded edge and the connecting ribbon is utilised for sketches by Orchardson, Colin Hunter, Pettie, Millais, Leslie, Alma Tadema, Du Maurier, Phil Morris, Ansdell, J. C. Hook, Frank Dicksee, Goodall, Herkomer, Fildes, Marks, Boughton, and Adrian Stokes. The outer blades are ornamented by arabesques enclosing the monogram of the owner, a laurel wreath, and painter’s palettes. The dates recorded are 1880-84.

The popularity on the Continent of this form of autograph fan is evidenced by the fact that three examples were shown at Karlsruhe in 1891 from the collection of Herr Conrad Dreher of Munich. These included the work of such well-known German artists as Ernst Zimmermann, Franz Stuck, Lenbach, Holmberg, Löwith, Diez, Hermann Kaulbach, and others.

At Karlsruhe, also, was shown an autograph fan belonging to the Baroness Friederichsy, on which were the signatures of all the diplomatists who attended the Berlin Congress. Countess Onola possesses a similar fan, with the autographs of the royal family and the more distinguished personages of the Berlin Court, including Prince Bismarck and Count Moltke.

Mrs. Joachim-Gibson has a ‘Wagner’ fan, with printed portrait of the master, views of the Wagner theatre and of Bayreuth, and, on the reverse, autographs of famous Wagner singers.

Lace Fan, presented to H.M. Queen Alexandra for use on Coronation day, 1902, by the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers. Her Majesty the Queen.

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Among novelties or curiosities in fans is an example shown at the Vienna Exhibition in 1873, in which each rib was a knife or a fork, or a spoon, or a comb, or a pair of scissors, etc. Any single piece could be removed for use without spoiling the tout ensemble.

In the exhibition of the Fanmakers’ Company at Drapers’ Hall in 1890, a ‘butterfly fan’ appeared. Two large gauze wings, speckled and veined to imitate a gigantic insect, form the fan, the body represented by the handle; upon pressing a button or spring, the wings are set in motion, and, by their fluttering, fan the bearer.

Mrs. Kendal, the famous actress, is also credited with a little surprise, in the shape of a ‘dressing-case fan.’ This is a fan and entire toilet-case in one, and affords its owner an opportunity of beautifying herself on occasions when the ordinary means are unattainable. The sticks are of silver, the leaf of black gauze, with a black velvet mask, resembling those the Venetians carry at Carnival time, set in the centre. Behind this mask, which permits the owner to see everything, may be carried on all the toilet duties for which the fan contains conveniences. Upon turning back one of the broad outer sticks, a little mirror is revealed, and underneath the other is a receptacle for hair-pins, scissors, glove-hook, etc. At the lower end of the fan is a silver box containing a small powder-puff. This was advertised some ten or fifteen years ago as manufactured by Messrs. W. Thornhill and Co.

The employment of the ostrich feather for the folding-fan has been revived during recent years, following an older custom. Many examples occurring in old engravings and pictures may be cited; amongst them the portrait group of the family of Jan Miense Molenaer, by Van Loon, previously referred to, in which a lady holds a folding-fan of white ostrich feathers. (See illustration, p. 196.)

In the sixteenth century, and for a long subsequent period, Venice continued to be the principal emporium for supplying ostrich feathers to Europe, and in no country were they more extensively used than in England. At present England is the mart of the world for feathers;Pg 288 foreign manufacturers, therefore, must perforce come here to make their selections.

It is this latter circumstance, doubtless, together with the universal popularity of the feather itself, which has occasioned their revival—some of the handsomest fans made at present being of that character. The æsthetic value of these fans, for the most part depends, no doubt, from considerations of cost, upon the beauty of the ostrich feather itself, the sticks being generally of plain ivory, tortoise-shell, horn, or bone—thus justifying the criticism passed upon one of the prize-winners at a competitive exhibition at Drapers’ Hall, that it was to the ostrich that the prize ought really to go. Under no circumstances, however, could these folding-fans hope to vie with the magnificent rigid fans of the Elizabethan era, the form of these handles, apparently, offering better opportunities to the designer than do the radiating sticks of the folding-fan. If we might have feathers set in handles designed in the sumptuous manner of these early fans, well and good; if we could have the sticks of the folding-fans more in keeping with the sumptuous nature of the feather, well also, though not quite so good; but the ever-present question of cost must always remain a determining factor.

The feathers of other birds have also been, and are at present, employed for the purposes of the fan; in this connection the charming Chinese fan at South Kensington of the feathers of the Argus pheasant may be cited. (Illustrated facing p. 59.)

Woodcock Feather Fan composed of 6250 feathers supplied by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. H.R.H. the Princess of Wales.

The system of applied feather-work is referred to on a number of occasions in this work, several illustrations being given, notably the Chinese feather screens belonging to Mr. Crewdson, and the Queen Anne screen of Mr. Messel. The practice was common during the latter half of the eighteenth century, used both for fans and other purposes, and it was a favourite pastime with Mrs. Montague, who refers to it in one of her letters, dated 1785:—‘I am obliged to you for your kind attention Pg 289to my feather-work. The neck and breast feathers of the stubble goose are very useful, and I wish your cook would save those of the Michaelmas goose for us. Things homely and vulgar are sometimes more useful than the elegant, and the feathers of the goose may be better adapted to some occasions than the plumes of the Phœnix.’

Thus Cowper, On Mrs. Montagu’s Feather Hangings:

‘The Birds put off their ev’ry hue,
To dress a room for Montagu.’

Fashion has again, during recent years, adopted this system of feather decoration for fans.

‘The latest craze of Viennese society,’ says the New York Commercial, November 23, 1890, ‘is a passion for fans of mountain-cock feathers. The last question the young Austrian belle asks her admirer before he goes on a hunt is, “Won’t you try, please, to bag me a fine fan?” An ideal fan of this kind must contain only feathers from birds brought down by the most expert shots, and every feather must be the lone representative of the giver’s skill; consequently, such a fan may record the admiration and skill of sixty or seventy hunters. It is not unusual to have cut in the ribs of the fans a brief account of the circumstances under which the birds were shot. The German Empress is said to have expressed a wish last summer for such a fan, and ever since that time the young bloods of the Austrian Court, who have already bagged fans for their own women, have been shooting right and left for the Empress’s sake. The handle of the fan, now being completed in Vienna, will be set with jewels in the Prussian colours.’

A more unique example of the spoils of sport is the fan which, by the graciousness of H.R.H. the Princess of Wales, we are enabled to illustrate here. In this, the blades are of red tortoise-shell, twenty in number. The feather portion is composed of a series of tiny feathers from the wing of the woodcock. These, 6520 in number, were suppliedPg 290 by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales from the wings of 3260 woodcocks, there being one only of these miniature feathers in each wing of the bird. Each single feather is fixed with two stitches of thread and worked upon a linen base, the back being formed of the ordinary feathers from the breast and wings.

The fan was commenced on the 18th August 1900, and only completed on the 28th October 1901. The lady who worked it was unable to apply herself for more than an hour or so at a time, the work being so excessively fine and tedious.

The manufacture of the fan was entrusted to Mr. Alfred Clark, of 33 New Bond Street,172 the work being carried out under his direction, and, we believe, on a principle of his own.

M. Édouard Moreau signed a number of fans from 1860 onwards, characterised by a charming delicacy of execution and elaboration of detail. A representative example is given, which appeared in the International Exhibition of 1862, and was purchased for the South Kensington Museum. This, an ivory brisé, is painted with three medallions of ‘The Tournament,’ ‘Before the Tournament,’ and ‘After the Tournament.’ The fan was made by Alexandre, and bears very favourable comparison with the best work of the eighteenth century. (Facing p. 87.)

A fan, also manufactured by Alexandre and painted by Moreau, was exhibited in 1870 by Madame Maurice Richard (au Ministère des Beaux-Arts, Paris). The vellum mount has for centre a medallion, with the initials ‘H. R.’ (Hélène Richard) surmounted by two doves. On either side are medallions with figures emblematic of Sculpture and Music, Poetry and Painting, painted en camaïeu on a gold ground by Moreau. On the reverse, in a medallion, the Genius of the Arts awarding wreaths to Sculpture, Architecture, Painting, Music, and Poetry. The ivory stick, Pg 291carved and pierced in the style of the sixteenth century, is also painted by Moreau, with medallions of seraphs playing musical instruments, and supporting emblems of the arts they represent; the guards bearing the initials ‘H. R.’ in gold.

The Meet. by Charles Detaille. M. J. Duvelleroy.

Many fans bearing Moreau’s signature have mounts of lace, the ivory stick being minutely painted with medallions of figure subjects near the handle end, usually three subjects enclosed in an ornamental setting. An excellent example is given from the collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. M. Duvelleroy (of Regent Street) also has a fan arranged on similar lines; another, in the possession of Mr. G. J. Rosenberg, was exhibited at Karlsruhe in 1891, both the last named being made by Alexandre.

This leads us to the important subject of lace mounts. The use of this delicate material for the fan, especially suited by its lightness and daintiness, has been revived during recent years.

A lace fan having in the centre the word ‘Elena,’ surmounted by a royal crown, was made at Burano and presented to Queen Elena of Italy on her marriage in 1896. In Devonshire, also, lace mounts have been made; in the Paris Exhibition of 1900 appeared a fan with a coat of arms in the centre, in which Miss Trevelyan adapted an Italian design to the old Honiton stitches, illustrated by Mrs. Bury Palliser in her work on Lace.

Fans have been, and are, a feature of the Youghal lace industry, established by the sisterhood of the Presentation Convent, county Cork, the oldest of the many that have sprung up under the fostering care of the Irish nuns, and dating back to the dark times of 1847, when famine decimated the rural population of the south and west of Ireland. The designs are in each instance furnished by the sisters, who are qualified under the Board of Education.

The Irish flat needle-point of Youghal, though doubtless derived inPg 292 the first instance from foreign sources, may be said to have developed into a purely native art, capable of well holding its own against any contemporary foreign work.

Fan leaves have been worked for many highly placed personages; the example illustrated was presented by the Earl of Crewe to H.R.H. the Princess Mary on her marriage, and is, perhaps, one of the most successful in point of design and richness of effect. A wedding gift to H.R.H. the Princess Maud of Wales has for centre the initial M. surmounted by a crown.

A beautiful example, of the finest workmanship, was presented to H.M. Queen Alexandra on the occasion of her first visit to Ireland after the Coronation, in 1903, and has for centre the Irish harp, with the appropriate inscription in Celtic half uncials, on a ribbon running over the whole field of the fan:

‘I cool, I refresh, and I can keep secrets.’

Another fan was presented to H.R.H. the Princess Margaret of Connaught as a wedding gift, and obtained a prize at an exhibition in Dublin in 1897. The number of medals awarded by the various international and other exhibitions testify to the universal appreciation of this delicate industry, which has for some years past, with the full consent of the nuns, been formed into a co-operative society, thus enabling the workers to participate fully in the profits accruing to the association. The thread is a linen one of various degrees of fineness, from the strong No. 1 to the almost invisible No. 400, and though so delicately wrought, it wears better than most other laces, and can be cleaned repeatedly without suffering injury in texture or appearance.173

Lace Fan, by Alexandre, stick ivory, carved by Brisevin, & painted by Moreau. Victoria & Albert Museum.
Lace Fan, worked by Mdme Minne Dausaert, stick ivory, finely carved with cupids &c. M. J. Duvelleroy.

We are enabled, by the gracious permission of Her Majesty, to illustrate the lace fan presented by the Worshipful Company of Fan-makers Pg 293to Queen Alexandra for use on Coronation Day, 1902. This bears two crossed A’s surmounted by the royal crown. On the panaches the royal monogram again appears surmounted by the crown.

Lace may be said to be the one single industry remaining comparatively uninfluenced by the modern art movement, which is professedly a return to the independent study of natural forms. We say comparatively uninfluenced, since most praiseworthy, and, indeed, successful attempts have been made both in this country and abroad to profit by the abundant ornamental suggestion which Nature everywhere offers us. The beautiful lace fan contributed by M. Duvelleroy suggests almost infinite possibilities in the treatment of this charming material; it is designed on a convention essentially modern; it is the art of to-day, of the present moment, owing practically nothing to the past, and representing that revolt against tradition, which, for good or for ill, has come to be one of the most significant features of modern art.

Nor is this the only instance that might be cited. Excellent designs for lace mounts, based upon natural forms, have from time to time been made in our schools; in this connection may be mentioned the work of Miss Lydia Hammett, of the Taunton School of Art, who has produced charming fan mounts in Brussels and other lace in which bird and plant life are happily treated, and with a proper and due sense of the limitations imposed by the material.

Miss L. Oldroyd, also, has worked a number of charming lace mounts, including one for a fan presented to Queen Victoria by the Worshipful Company of Fanmakers on the occasion of the diamond jubilee.

On the Continent, among some of the most admirably reticent work, a treatment more frankly unusual has been adopted, not without successful results. In the article on ‘Der Moderne Fächer,’ in the Kunstgewerbe-blatt for September 1904, Frau M. Erler gives several admirable examplesPg 294 from Vienna and elsewhere, together with illustrations of her own work, consisting of a happy arrangement of appliqué embroidery and network or gauze insertion, extremely effective, and losing none of its value from the fact of its having been obtained by simple means. We have festoons of flowers embroidered on a light ground of gauze, with ornamental spaces of network insertion; we have the mountain-ash arranged symmetrically, the leaves painted red with embroidered outline; the ‘honesty’ treated as a broad border, the outline embroidered; the rose treated as an all-over pattern, the groundwork in artfully alternated lace and net.

At the time of writing, the news of Charles Conder’s death reaches us. He was a man of singular gifts, a modern of the moderns, whose work, though doubtless derived from that of a past age, would have been impossible at any other epoch than our own. What Conder undoubtedly possessed, and in a very high degree, was that subtle quality which for lack of a better word we call style, a quality not easy of definition, but readily felt. It would be difficult to say what style is, it is far easier to say what it is not; it is not for example, design; a man may possess considerable power of design without much perception of style; it is not a sense of proportion, although this comes nearer the mark; it is not originality either, since a man may be very original indeed, and only prove himself ridiculous; it is rather, a happy blending of these several elements, and some others also.

To this great gift of nature, since this quality in its highest form cannot be acquired, Conder added practically nothing. It is with a feeling akin to resentment that we find faculties so exceedingly rare and so precious, allied to such a lamentable lack of training and art education. It is indeed possible that, if his life had been prolonged, these shortcomings would have been supplied, as Burne-Jones taught himself the human figure after he became famous; but, after all, criticism is perhaps somewhat ungracious where there is so much that is admirable, Pg 295and the utility of speculations as to the ‘might have beens’ is extremely questionable.

The Red Fan. Conversations Galantes,
painted on silk by Charles Conder.
Mr. John Lane.

The number of Conder fans existing in various collections must be considerable. Mr. Lane has a dozen, or possibly more, of which perhaps the finest is reproduced here. Silk is the material employed, to which his method is especially suited. They appear to have been mounted only in very rare instances, and are generally framed for purposes of decoration. There is no reason why they should not be used—in fact, there is every reason why they should, since suitability to a prescribed purpose is one of the very first canons of good art. Mrs. Lane has a blue fan, mounted, and in use.

The work of Frank Conder is obviously founded on that of Charles, with which it presents many features in common. Among the several fans by this artist illustrated in the winter number of the Studio, that representing two young girls holding masks, with Cupids, and in the background a river and bridge, is perhaps the most individual.

The many admirers of Mr. Brangwyn’s work, and they are legion, will doubtless welcome the two characteristic examples given of fans by his hand. In both instances, the colour scheme is a play upon blue, somewhat similar to, and at the same time, necessarily, vastly different from, the red fan of Mr. Conder. The motto of Danton the Republican—‘de l’audace, et encore de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace,’ ‘to dare, and again to dare, and always and evermore to dare,’ would seem to be peculiarly fitting to the work of Mr. Brangwyn. In the hands of a less gifted artist this would probably mean disaster; in the instance of the original of the coloured illustration, a bold gouache on silk, the result is one of almost overpowering brilliance. The half-tone illustration represents a sketch on grey paper, and must be considered merely as the first idea of a fan, to be materially modified in the working out.

Mr. Brangwyn has, among his multifarious activities, found time toPg 296 produce quite a number of fans and designs for fans, which have found their way into various hands. In the Studio winter number for 1901-2 appeared a coloured illustration—a rich composition of young girls gathering roses—also painted on silk. In the article on ‘Der Moderne Fächer,’ in Kunstgewerbe-blatt for September 1904, by Frau Margaret Erler of Berlin, previously alluded to, appeared the first sketch for this Studio fan, vigorously drawn in chalk.

It is impossible at the present stage of a career having in the natural order of things so much before it, and in the face of such superabundant energy, to form any definite idea of the ultimate outcome of Mr. Brangwyn’s art; of his present accomplishment, his etched work, which ranks amongst the most remarkable produced during recent periods, seems likely, in the opinion of the present writer, to earn for him the most enduring fame. If we might conceive etched or engraved fans becoming again popular in the twentieth, as they were in the eighteenth century, it might be an interesting speculation as to how Mr. Brangwyn would treat an etched fan. The material of zinc, which he so much affects, and in which he has discovered such great possibilities, would, doubtless, be unsuitable for such a delicate object; nevertheless, we can imagine some rapid and characteristic note on copper, the print further enlivened here and there by a touch of colour, as a suitable thing to be fluttered in the hand of the fair. Such work would provide, in these days of lack of patronage, other artists also with a means of augmenting their too often, it is to be feared, but slender incomes, since there would be an additional incentive to purchase a print that might be applied to a definite purpose, or made the occasion of some graceful offering.

Mr. H. Granville Fell, whose Court of Love, a composition in the shape of a reversed heart, with Cupid enthroned in the centre, was illustrated in the Studio winter number above referred to, is another instance of an English present-day artist who has essayed fan painting or designing.

The Blue Fan, silk, by Frank Brangwyn, A.R.A. by permission of the Artist.

Pg 297

Miss Jessie King, whose charmingly original style is admirably suited to the fan, was also represented in the same publication. The beautiful fan graciously lent for reproduction by H.R.H. Princess Henry of Battenberg, the wedding gift of Queen Victoria, is entirely of English workmanship, designed and painted by a lady student of the Training School at South Kensington.

‘What style of ornament is most suitable for the fan?’ asks Charles Blanc, who draws attention to the fact of the pleats breaking up or distorting the design or picture. Our author suggests as a possible way out of this difficulty ‘that each pleat or fold should have a separate subject, or, at least, that the subject be so arranged that the pleats have relation to each other, as, a Watteau harlequin kissing his hand to a columbine, a Leander quarrelling with Isabelle, these being placed on blades that in refolding would reunite the lovers and reconcile the disputants. But to develop a graceful subject on a series of projecting and retreating angles, all more or less acute, would be a waste of labour. Is it not better to use in these cases a different or a radiating ornament? Is it not better to scatter over a fan a charmingly discordant arrangement of pictures and colours, or even to place isolated subjects between the folds, in order that elegant women, in manipulating their fans, may have twenty opportunities of showing in each fancy group the artist’s talent, and at the same time, of displaying some special charm of their own—a pretty hand, a well-turned arm, or beautiful eyes?’174

Our author has drawn attention, in his light and charming way, to a difficulty which is practically insuperable; there is nothing new in this suggestion of decorating each pleat with a separate subject, or of a consecutive series of subjects. Many instances of its application might be cited; some are given in this work, notably the Italian fan of mica, in which subdivision is carried to its utmost limit. But we must not take our

Pg 298

author too seriously, and although his suggested fan, if carried out, would be a most exquisite experience, especially if drawn with the power of a Gavarni, or designed with the skill of a Sambourne or a Caran d’Ache, the opportunity afforded to the painter by the full space of the mount far outweighs any slight disturbance of the design caused by the pleating; moreover, is it not a fact that silk, the material most favoured by modern artists, which, when prepared with rice size and stretched, offers as suitable a material as could be desired for the free play of the brush, opens out to practically a flat surface?

George Augustus Sala has referred to the fan painted by Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt with the subject of the ‘Triumph of Love,’ as marking the period of the English revival of fan painting, and as a striking exemplification of the folly of assuming that a great artist derogates from the dignity of his calling by painting fans. He may stoop, indeed, says this author felicitously, but it will be to conquer!

Our task is at length completed; we have endeavoured to trace to its source in the dimmest past the chequered history of this little toy, once the pride and the glory of kings, and now the plaything of queens. We trust we have shown that, in the words of Sir George Birdwood, there is perhaps more in a fan than was dreamt of in Johnson’s matter-of-fact definition:—‘An instrument used by ladies to move the air and cool themselves.’

What, then, of the future? May we reasonably look forward in this twentieth century for a renaissance of the fan; for a re-attainment, if not of its past spiritual significance, at least of something of its artistic possibilities?

Sketch Design for Fan, by Frank Brangwyn, A.R.A.
A Garland of Children, by G. Woolliscroft Rhead.

The future is full of hope; we have turned our backs upon the bad old nineteenth century, with its manifold outrages upon the æsthetic sense; the foundations, at any rate, of a living art have begun to be laid—were begun, as a matter of fact, by this same nineteenth century, following that strange natural order of the outcome of good from evil and the apparent Pg 299inseparability of both; a new Phœnix has arisen out of the ashes of the old; a new era has come, showing everywhere signs of a revived artistic life, with plenty of capable heads to invent and willing hands to carry out. Mesdames, it is with your charming selves that the issue rests. You have but to utter the word and your sceptre shall again become a wonder of wreathed beauty and woven grace, rivalling in its blossoming the golden-flowered sceptres of eld!175

(Victoria and Albert Museum.)


1 Gay, The Fan.

2 Adventures of Harry Richmond (the italics are ours).

3 Tatler, No. 52, Aug. 9, 1709.

4 Goldoni in his Mémoires gives an account of ‘The Fan.’ It was written and first brought out in Paris, and soon became universally popular, especially in Venice.—Helen Zimmern, Masterpieces of Foreign Authors.

5 M. A. Flory, A Book about Fans.

6 Letter of Mrs. Scott, 1761, to her sister-in-law, Mrs. Robinson.—Dr. Doran, A Lady of the Last Century (Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu).

7 In an engraving of an English Noblewoman by Gaspar Rutz, 1581, a long-handled feather-fan appears.

8 The fan here referred to was chiefly used inside the Courts as punkah, to create a little circulation of the air, and to dissipate the horrible odours for which these places were notorious.

9 This assertion that the handles of fans were occasionally employed in the castigation of refractory children is borne out by the droll story of Sir Thomas More punishing his daughters with a fan of peacock’s feathers for the offence of running him into debt with the milliner.

10 Layard, Nineveh.

11 Wilkinson, Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians.

12 Thus Agamemnon in Troilus and Cressida, Act I. Scene iii.:

‘in the wind and tempest of her frown,
Distinction, with a broad and powerful fan,
Puffing at all, winnows the light away;
And what hath mass, or matter, by itself
Lies, rich in virtue, and unmingled.’

13 In a painting which represents a sacrifice to Isis, Ant. di Ercolano, ii. 60, a priest is seen fanning the fire upon the altar with a triangular flabellum, such as is still used in Italy. (Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.)

14 Sir George Birdwood, Society of Arts, 1903.

15 George Rawlinson, Five Great Monarchies of the Ancient World.

16 Rawlinson.

17 2 Kings i. 2, 3, 6, 16.

18 Pausanias, Frazer, vol. iii, 558.

19 ‘The fly-whisk in the picture is introduced because flies were held to be creatures of Beel-zebub, the god of flies, and therefore to be driven away.’ (Letter of Mr. W. Holman Hunt to the author.)

20 National Encyclopædia.

21 Layard, Nineveh.

22 Chambers’s Dictionary of Arts and Sciences.

23 See page 109.

24 Dennis, Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria.

25 Revue de l’Art Chrétien, 1883

26 In a wall-painting of a sacrifice, Rome (Vatican), given by George Buss, Der Fächer, a circular fan-tablet is seen.

27 This also is the number lining the shed in which the King of Dahomey holds his Court, the outer ones, white, those in the centre, marking the spot occupied by his Majesty, displaying the brightest hues.

28 C. F. Gordon-Cumming, ‘Pagodas, Aureoles, and Umbrellas,’ English Illustrated Magazine, 1888.

29 In the Ayin Akbari, or Institutes of the Emperor Akbar, by Abdul Fazl, Akbar’s great minister, the following enumeration is given of the ensigns of state ‘which wise monarchs consider as marks of divine favour’:—

The Aurung or throne, the Chuttur or umbrella, the Sayiban or sun-fan, and the Kowkebah or stars in gold and other metals which are hung up in front of the palace; and these four ensigns are used only by kings.

The Alum, the Chuttertowk, and the Tementowk, all varieties of standards of the highest dignity, appropriated solely by the king and his military officers of the highest rank.—Birdwood, Industrial Arts of India.

30 Hon. Wilbraham Egerton, Handbook of Indian Arms.

31 Coomaraswarmy, Mediæval Sinhalese Art.

32 Hindu Theatre.

33 In the painting supposed to represent an Irânian Embassy of Khosru II. of Persia to Pulikêsi II., both flag-fan, long-handled pankhâ, and fly-flap appear.

34 The Tooth relic of Buddha, brought by a Brahman princess from Kālinga in A.D. 313, and since rendered the highest honours.

35 Anderson, B.M. Catalogue, p. 221.

36 In the romance of Amadis of Gaul it will be remembered that Appolidon gathered up the superb purple and gold feathers of the Phœnix which had remained long enough in the island to change its plumage, to make a fan ornamented with a diamond and carbuncle, as a present from Amadis to Oriane on arriving at the island.

37 M. Rondot quotes a passage from a native authority stating that the Chinese general, Tchou-ko-liang, commanded his three army corps holding a fan of white plumes.

38 G. Dumoutier, Les Symboles, les Emblèmes et les Accessoires du culte chez les Annamites, pp. 116-18.

39 H. A. Giles, Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, p. 64, note 13.

40 The traditional account is here given—some explanation of the absence of definite dates may be found in the hypothesis that there were always folding-fans—that the device of pleating a piece of paper or other material is so simple that it might occur to the youngest child. As a matter of fact, Nature herself invented the folded fan, as she may be said to suggest every invention. The palmetto leaf in its undeveloped shape is pleated and packed as neatly and completely as any folding-fan ever made.

41 This circumstance of the introduction of a new fashion by courtesans finds a curious parallel in Europe. Stow’s Chronicle, Howes’s edit., 1632, says: ‘Womens Maskes, Buskes, Muffes, Fanns, Perewigs, and Bodkins were first devised (sic) and used in Italy by Curtezans, and there received of the best sort for gallant ornaments, and from thence they came to England, about the time of the massacre of Paris.’

42 S. W. Bushell, Chinese Art.

43 Her Imperial Majesty’s collection of fans has for some time been dispersed.

44 Abel Rémusat, Mélanges posthumes d’histoire et de littérature, quoted by G. Ashdown Audsley.

45 H. A. Giles, ‘Chinese Fans,’ Fraser’s Magazine, May 1879.

46 Kaname, the rock which holds the earth together and keeps it quiet, means the rivet of a fan. The great earthquake fish Namazu has the Giant Kashima for keeper, who was charged to subdue the eastern part of the world, and accomplished this feat by running his sword through the earth. In time the sword hardened into stone and was named Kaname (rivet). When Namazu becomes too violent and shakes the earth, Kashima jumps upon him with the rock Kaname.

47 ‘Upon a male child being presented at his birth to the temple of his father’s particular deity, he receives, amongst other gifts, two fans, while a girl receives a cake of pomade, which brings good looks.’

48 Henri L. Joly, Legend in Japanese Art.

49 Josiah Conder, Japanese Costume.

50 Mrs. Salwey, Fans of Japan.

51 Anderson, British Museum Catalogue of Japanese Paintings.

52 Chapter XI. page 285.

53 Beautiful writing is highly prized both in China and Japan. Caligraphy, says Mr. S. W. Bushell (Chinese Art, p. 31), is a branch of the fine arts in China, and the penman who can write elegantly in sweeping lines with a flowing brush is ranked above the artist.

54 In this process of metal inlay, the ground is broken up by means of an engraver’s tool, the pattern formed of silver wire, hammered in.

55 The widow of Atsumori who was killed in the fight here referred to, in 1184, is credited with the invention of the folding-fan, although dates are somewhat confusing. At the temple of Mieido in Kyoto, whither she had retired to hide her grief under the garb of a nun, she cured the abbot of a fever by fanning him with a paper folding-fan over which she muttered incantations: and to this day the priests of the temple are considered special adepts in the manufacture of fans; hence the name Mieido is adopted by many fan shops all over the islands. (Basil Chamberlain, Things Japanese.)

56 The fan was used as crest by many Japanese families. A number of examples are given in Mrs. Salwey’s Fans of Japan.

57 Henri L. Joly, Legend in Japanese Art.

58 Mrs. Salwey, Fans of Japan.

59 Ode from the Manyoshin, translated by Basil Chamberlain.

60 Transactions of the Japan Society, vol. v. Paper by Mrs. Salwey on Pastimes and Amusements of the Japanese.

61 In the Musée Guimet, Paris, is a tea-service, fine in execution, signed ‘Kawamoto Hansouke,’ an artist of the province of Owari, the saucers being shaped like fans. In the same collection is a large plate, fourteen inches in its longest dimension, shaped like a folding-fan.

62 Francis Parkman, La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West.

63 Miss Kingsley refers to their use at Egaja, ‘for the purpose of battling with the evening cloud of sand-flies.’

64 In the liturgy of St. Chrysostom, after the Benedictus—‘Supra sancta ventilet reverenter flabello. Si desit flabellum, velo idem praestat.’ (Divina Missa S. Joan. Chrysostomi, Goar. Rituale Graecorum. p. 76.)

65 Smith, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities.

66A.D. 1214, Ornamenta Ecclesie Sarum, inventa in Thesauraria. ij. flabella de serico et pergameno.’

67 Dugdale, History of St. Paul’s.

68 ‘Manubrium flabelli argentum deauratum, ex dono Joh. Newton, thesaurarii, cum ymagine Episcopi in fine enamelyd, pond. v. unc.’

69 Registrum Roff. p. 554.

70 Journal of the Archæological Association, vol. xxvi.

71 Archæological Journal, vol. v.

72 Pauli Paciandi de Umbellae Gestatione Commentarius, Romae, 1752, p. lxiii.

‘But yet I have them in great reverence
And honour, saving them from filth and ordure
By often brusshyng and moche dylygence.’

74 Memorials of London and London Life in the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Centuries, by Henry Thomas Riley.

75 Revue de l’Art Chrétien, 1883. Les Disques crucifères, le Flabellum, et l’umbella.

76 Harl. MSS. 3601, the date 1295-6, edited by J. W. Clark.

77 Un esmouchior de drap d’or, a fleur-de-lys, escartelé des armes de France et de Navarre a un baston d’yvoire et de geste, prisé v Francs d’or.—Du Cange.

78 Viollet-le-Duc.

79 Blondel.

80 Henry F. Holt, Journal of the Archæological Association, vol. xxvi. (1870).

81 Elle donna à la reyne Louise de Lorraine une fois pour ses estreines ung esventail faict de nacre de perles, enrichy de pierreries et grosses perles, si beau et si riche, qu’on disoit estre un chef d’œuvre, et l’estimoit on à plus de quinze cens escus.—Pierre de Bourdeilles, Seigneur de Brantôme, Mémoires des dames illustrées de France.

82 Sir John Cullam, Bart., History of Hawsted.

83 Dr. Birdwood, Report on Old Records in the India Office, 1898.

84 Sir John Francis Davis, F.R.S., The Chinese.

85 Fans of the Ancients, p. 27.

86 A. C. Fox-Davies, Complete Guide to Heraldry.

87 Ibid.

88 Omnium pene Europae, Asiae, Aphricae, atque Americae Gentium habitus. Antwerp, 1581.

89 It is extremely improbable that this fan leaf had ever any connection with the story given above. It probably belongs to the latter years of the seventeenth, or the early years of the eighteenth century.

90 M. Édouard Petit has written an exhaustive monograph on the manufacture of fans, Études, souvenirs et considérations sur la fabrication de l’éventail. Versailles, 1859.

91 Art and Ornament in Dress.

92 Fans of scented wood had, earlier, been introduced into the French Court by Anne of Austria.

93 S. Redgrave, South Kensington Catalogue of Fan Exhibition, 1870.

94 One of the most potent earlier influences on Spanish painting was that of Titian, who, although probably never in Spain, painted a number of pictures for the Escurial.

95 ‘They all love the feasts of bulls, and strive to appear gloriously fine when they see them.’—Memoirs of Lady Fanshawe.

96 Procès Verbaux, April 26, 1762, Jan. 1765. Lady Dilke, French Painters of the Eighteenth Century, p. 12.

97 Walter Thornbury, Legendary Ballads and Songs.

98 Qui estoit un montagne de chaux vive sur laquelle les gouttes d’eau du ciel tumboient à foison et disoient les mots tels en latin:

‘Ardorem extincta testantur vivere flamma.’

99 Des éventails et pennaches rompus des carquans brisés et ses pierreries et perles espandues par terre les chaisnes toutes en pieces!

100 Deux Dialogues du nouveau Langage François, 1578.

101 Il étoit d’un vélin aussi délicatement découpé qu’il étoit possible avec la dentelle à l’entour de pareille étoffe.

102 There are instances in which this order is reversed, the leaf having been preserved and mounted on more modern sticks.

103 Ribbons constantly appear on the fans depicted in Bosse’s engravings, either at the side, half-way up the panache, or at the rivet.

104 The well-known story of the portrait of Christina, painted by Michael Dahl, may be given. One day, while the Queen was sitting to him, she asked him what he intended to put in her hand. ‘A fan, please your Majesty.’ ‘A fan!’ exclaimed Christina, starting up with a tremendous oath. ‘A fan!—A lion, man, is fitter for the Queen of Sweden.’

The Order of the Fan was instituted later by Louisa Ulrica, in 1744, for the ladies of the Swedish court, in which the sterner sex was afterwards included.

105 Letter 491, 8 Mai 1676.

106 Le Brun was appointed ‘premier peintre’ in 1662, with twelve thousand francs a year.

... ‘Courant de belle en belle,
Sous des lambris dorés et Vernis par Martin.’
‘Les cabinets où Martin
A surpassé l’art de la Chine.’—Voltaire.

109 Paul Mantz, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. XX.

110 Translation by Henry Smith Wright, B.A.

111 ‘Pantins Méchanique,’ a performing figure worked by a string, much in vogue at this period. See Engraved Fans of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, part i. page 226.

112 Henri Bouchot, ‘History on Fans’ (Art and Letters, vol. ii.).

113 A congratulatory address on this occasion was offered to the Queen by the market-women of Paris, written by M. de la Harpe on the inside of the fan of the spokeswoman, to which she repeatedly referred without the least embarrassment.—Henry F. Holt, Journal of the Archæological Association, vol. xxvi.

114 See Engraved Fans of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, page 227.

115 Menagiana.

116 Pope had, nearly a century earlier, made allusion to the discontinuance of the fashion:

‘The modest fan was lifted up no more,
And virgins smiled at what they blushed before.’

117 Steevens.

118 See Italian fans, p. 109.

119 Agnes Strickland, Lives of the Queens of England. In most of the early engraved portraits of Catherine of Braganza, the Queen is represented with a folding-fan, in each instance closed; in one instance, that of an equestrian portrait, a large fan is depicted.

120 In Campbell’s London Tradesman, 1747, it is recorded that ‘the Italian mounts are much more in request than anything of our own manufacture, and large prices are given for them.’

121 H. M. Baird, The Huguenots and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.

122 The Fanmakers’ Company, created by Charter in 1709, for nearly 100 years protected and regulated the trade, until the reduction of protective duties on foreign fans annihilated the English trade. (Notes by Colonel Sewell (Fanmakers’ Company), Schreiber MS., British Museum.)

123 Spectator, No. 296.

124 Tatler, December 29, 1709. Letter No. 113. John Hughes.

125 Spectator, No. 102.

126 E. J. Climenson, Elisabeth Montagu, Queen of the Blue-stockings.

127 The fan of Pope’s epigram was probably Italian. See page 179.

128 ‘Please notice No. 110, which rather points to one of your fans not being by Bartolozzi. Perhaps the “Lady of Quality” was Lady Duncannon.’—Letter by Mr. Lionel Cust to Lady Charlotte Schreiber. Schreiber MSS., British Museum.

129 Schreiber MSS., British Museum. Extracts, p. 100.

130 Journal of the Archæological Association, vol. xxvi., 1870.

131 See Meaume, Recherches sur la vie et les ouvrages de Jacques Callot, vol. ii. p. 287.

132 Art and Letters, Jan. 1888.

133 Honoré de Balzac (Sur Catherine de Médicis).

134 In French salons, about the year 1728, the fashion prevailed of ‘Les Pantins Méchaniques,’ that every one carried and worked by the aid of strings while chatting of one thing and another. Lacroix, XVIII Siècle, France, 1700-87, p. 507.

From 1748 to 1750 it was in high vogue among the beau monde as a diverting plaything for gentlemen and ladies. Wright, Caricature History of the Georges, note, p. 251.

135 The subject of America is returned to later, when in the ‘George Washington’ fan we have in the centre a portrait of Washington, and, ranged on either side, portraits of the succeeding ten presidents of the United States. This, a lithograph, with painted decorations in silver, bearing the inscription, ‘Vagneur-Dupré. No. 530. Lith. de Lemercier.’

136 Several versions of the above subject appear: 1. King seated under canopy, three notables and three ecclesiastics on either side, M. Calonne reading speech, 2. King and his two brothers under canopy, four nobles and four ecclesiastics on either side. 3. A much more elaborate performance, king and two royal princes under canopy; four nobles and six ecclesiastics, M. Calonne, and clerk at table; a courtier on each side of the composition.

137 Dictionnaire des Hommes Marquans, ii. p. 519, quoted by Carlyle.

138 Richard Heath, ‘Politics in Dress,’ Woman’s World, June 1889.

139 In the Musée du Louvre is a remarkable drawing of the great arch, with a vast concourse of people, by Jean Louis Prieur, illustrated in Lady Dilke’s work, French Engravers and Draughtsmen of the Eighteenth Century.

140 Carlyle.

141 Carlyle.

142 Henri Bouchot, History on Fans.

143 See page 164.

144 Richard Heath, ‘Politics in Dress,’ Woman’s World, June 1889.

145 Henri Bouchot.

146 Henri Bouchot.

147 Of the two hundred engravings deposited in the Bibliothèque Nationale in this year (1796) a hundred and fourteen were fan-designs mostly in praise of Napoleon. (Henri Bouchot, History on Fans.)

148 Chaudet was a sculptor who made the first statue of Napoleon in his military dress, that on the Vendôme Column. Fontaine and Persier were architects to the Tuileries.

149 Lord Stanhope, alluding to the medals prematurely struck in honour of Admiral Vernon’s victories at Portobello and Carthagena, says: ‘Perhaps the most remarkable of all these médailles prématurées is that struck by Napoleon for his intended conquest of England; his head on the one side; on the other, Hercules struggling with a monster; the words “Descente en Angleterre”; and beneath, “Frappé à Londres, MDCCCIV.”’—History of England, chap. xxii.

150 Encyclopædia Britannica.

151 A company obtained a concession ratified 15th April 1877. The Maritime Canal Company was organised May 1899, and in the following year a construction company was incorporated. The question whether the canal would be constructed by this route or on the Panama route was still undecided in September 1902.—Encyclopædia Britannica.

152 ‘Hogarth,’ says Walpole, ‘resembles Butler; but his subjects are more universal, and amidst all his pleasantry, he observes the true end of comedy—reformation. There is always a moral to his pictures.’

153 A synopsis of English History, given on a fan, published 1793 by I. Cock and J. P. Crowder, concludes by saying: ‘We may with pleasure add that one of the Princes, His Majesty’s 2d son, the Duke of York, has lately gained honour for the English Nation by the eminent distinction of the British Troops under his command before Valenciennes, in the humanity they joined to their valour. Vive, Vive le Roi!’

154 M. Gamble had advertised in the Craftsman during the year 1733 ‘The Church of England Fan; being an explanation of the Oxford Almanac for the year 1733, on which the several characters are curiously done, in various beautiful colours. Price 2s. Likewise a new Edition of the “Harlot’s Progress in Fans,” with prints of all the three sorts fit to Frame. Sold at the Golden Fann in St. Martin’s Court, near Leicester Fields.’

155 In Boswell’s Johnson are references to Osborne—to the purchase of the Harleian Library and the publication of the Catalogue, and to the personal chastisement which Johnson inflicted on him:—‘It has been confidently related, with many embellishments, that Johnson one day knocked Osborne down in his shop, with a folio, and put his foot upon his neck. The simple truth I had from Johnson himself: “Sir, he was impertinent to me and I beat him. But it was not in his shop; it was in my own chamber.”’

In Johnson’s Life of Pope, Osborne is thus referred to:—‘Pope was ignorant enough of his own interest to make another change, and introduced Osborne contending for the prize among the booksellers.’ (Dunciad, ii. p. 167.)

‘Osborne was a man entirely destitute of shame, without sense of any disgrace but that of poverty.’ (Johnson’s Works, viii. p. 302.)

156 This latter is a device by which the second dimension of the stick (the gorge) is made to slide up into the shoulder, the mount being double and loose, so as to allow of passing up and down the stick. By this means, an ordinary sized fan of 10-3/4 ins. is reduced to 6-3/4. Mr. Crewdson has an example, with paper mount painted with figures variously occupied, as a soldier drinking at a tent, a travelling ‘Punch,’ etc. The stick ivory, carved, painted and gilt.

157 ‘The Fair was granted by Henry I. to one Rahere, a witty and pleasant gentleman of his Court, in aid, and for the support of, an Hospital, Priory, and Church, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, which he built in repentance of his former profligacy and folly. The succeeding Priors claimed by certain Charters to have a Fair every year, viz. on the Eve, Day, and the Morrow of St. Bartholomew.’

158 The Beau always carried a white beaver hat, assumed after he had lost many of ordinary colours, as he said, to prevent any person taking it by mistake, though the uncharitable declared the reason for this singularity was to attract attention. Nash was fond of fine clothes, and celebrated the King’s Birthday in 1734 by appearing in gold-laced clothes, in which, says Chesterfield, ‘he looked so fine that, standing by chance in the middle of the dancers, he was taken by many at a distance for a gilt garland. (Lewis Melville, Bath under Beau Nash.)

159 Daughter of George II., who paid her first visit to Bath in 1728.

‘Ye nymphs of Bath, come, aid my lay;
Come strike the trembling string;
Amelia’s name so sweetly flows,
Her face and wondrous goodness shows,
Who can refuse to sing.
‘Her presence, like the sun benign,
Sheds blessing, where she deigns to shine:
And brightens all the place;
But, when the Goddess disappears,
Our drooping heads and eyes in tears
Will witness our distress.’
Quoted by Lewis Melville, Bath under Beau Nash.


‘Poor Bladud, he was manger grown; his dad, which zum call vather,
Zet Bladud pig, and pig Bladud, and zo they ved together.
Then Bladud did the Pigs invect, who, grumbling, ran away,
And vound whot Waters presently, which made him fresh and gay.
Bladud was not so grote a Vool, but seeing what Pig did doe,
He Beath’d and Wash’t, and Rins’d, and Beath’d, from Noddle down to Toe.
And then he built this gawdy Toun, and sheer’d his Beard spade-ways,
Which voke accounted then a Grace, though not so nowadays.
Thwo thowsand and vive hundred Years, and Thirty-vive to That,
Zince Bladud’s Zwine did looze their Greaze, which we Moderns call Vat.’
Coryate, Crudities.

161 Goldsmith, Life of Nash.

162 In memory of the happy restoration to Health of the Prince of Orange, by drinking the Bath Waters, through the favour of God, and to the joy of Britain, 1734.

163 The painted fan alluding to the relations between the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Fitzherbert is referred to on page 195.

164 In 1726, when Swift took the town by storm with ‘Gulliver,’ every lady ‘carried Lilliput about with her,’ and Lilliputian fans became the vogue.

165 ‘Mr. A. W. Tuer, in a list of Bartolozzi’s works (page 116), catalogues eighteen fan-mounts, including the one published by A. Poggi in 1780, but not the one published by Poggi in 1782. Only four, so far as he knows, were completed as fans, including the 1780 Poggi. The coppers on which the engravings were made were of large size, so as to admit of the after addition of the form of the fan, and its ornamentation. Some of the plates were afterwards cut down, lettered, and issued as separate prints.’ (Letter of Mr. Lionel Cust to Lady Charlotte Schreiber, Schreiber MSS., British Museum.)

166 Redgrave, South Kensington Catalogue, 1870.

167 Duvelleroy, Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1867, Rapports du Jury International, vol. iv.

168 Queen, Christmas Number, 1890.

169 E. Barrington Nash, Catalogue of the Third Competitive Exhibition of Fans at Drapers’ Hall, 1890.

170 There is no reason why either sex should claim a monopoly of fan painting.

171 Octave Uzanne, The Fan.

172 These details are most kindly supplied by the Private Secretary, the Hon. A. Nelson Hood, who also photographed the fan for this work.

173 The above facts are taken from an article in the Irish Rosary for June 1898.

174 Art and Ornament in Dress.

175 The Etruscan sceptre in the gold ornament room, British Museum, has the top formed like a flower, the petals of beaten gold, the inner core a large emerald.

Pg 301


Printers to His Majesty

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