the humble fan
Visiting the Victoria & Albert Museum when I come to London is like visiting an old friend.
When I was at Christies, I used to come here nearly twice a week and spend a couple of hours each visit looking at a particular room. The museum is so vast that even though I come to London twice a year and spend a similar amount of time on my visit, it never gets boring.
I usually choose a theme: this visit I looked at fans. What?
Carried by ladies, not only to cool themselves, but to look alluring-a fan is one of the most beautiful accessories that a lady can hold. Usually, fans were constructed of carved wood or bamboo and covered in silk or lace. However, they were often painted by skilled miniature painters and carved out of precious or rare materials such as tortoisehell, leather, ivory and with metal details. A fan had to be light, as they were often used for hours at a time.
Check out these 3 fine examples.
The first is mid 18th century and each blade is made of intricately carved ivory. Such a rare material was extremely expensive and was probably a gift for a very rich woman.
The second is constructed of silk and pressed leather. The detail of the painting again is the main ornament of the fan.
The final example is again beautifully carved of mother of pearl and gold. Again the fan itself is made of painted silk
7 August 2012