Nicole Kipar
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The 1660s
Restoration Costume Comes to Life

Part 4, Page 8
The Whole Look, Accessories: Fans

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5
Lower Class Women and Men Gentry and Aristocracy, Women Gentry and Aristocracy, Men The Whole Look: Accessories Costume Focus: Women's Headwear & Neckwear

Painted fans came into fashion in Britain after the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660. English fans of the following 15 years had an arc of 140 to 160 degrees, with 14-18 sticks, covered by a fan leaf to a depth of about two-thirds. The quality of the painting and subject matter varies enormously, the best and most elaborate high quality fans still came from France. After the influx of Huguenot refugees from France in the late 1680s and early 1690s, the quality of painted fans improved tremendously. At the same time, the size and shape of fans increased between 1690 and 1730 the number of sticks averaged 24-26.

It was forbidden in France to show anything but allegorical paintings on fans in the period, because the fan makers belonged to a different guild as the painters did and therefore they were not allowed to make fan leaves depicting real life scenes. Interestingly enough, there is a French fan leaf in the Greenwich Fan Museum near London, which commemorates an important event in Louis XIV's life, but is devoid of any cupids which would have made the painting legitimately 'allegorical'. The one below, which commemorates the marriage of Louis XIV has those cupids.

Below you will find fans from the later period as well, because there are only a few fans of the 1660s surviving and when they are, then it is near impossible to find pictures of them, let alone be allowed to take pictures.

This fan is a woodblock print on a paper leaf and was made to commemorate the restoration of the monarchy in England. The fan is 25 cm long. It shows acorn leaves, acorns, crowns and orbs. The writing says THE HAPY RESTORATION.
This unmounted fanleaf is French and shows the toilette of Madame de Montespan, one f the more famous mistresses of Louis XIV. She is depicted as Venus with cupids in a bejewelled and highly decorated room assisting her toilette.
This French fan depicts the Triumph of Alexander and is gouache panting on leather. The ivory sticks are piqued with silver.
Another exquisite French fan leaf, showing Venus and cupid, again gouache on leather. The reverse is painted with flowers, similar to the ones at the sides. The fan had been dismounted and the sticks discarded, but the fine painting was kept.
Cupid once again in a toilette scene, a very favoured topic of fans of the period. French.
Once again the toilette of Venus, gouache on leather and ivory sticks. French.
This Italian fan is painted in bodycolours onto paper and by now fans are about 16-18 cm long. The ivory sticks are silver piqued and carved.
North European wedding fan. Gouache painting on thick vellum. The difference in quality between this one and the others on this page is tremendous.
This later period fan is interesting, because it is not a paper or leather/parchment fan, but a brise fan, which means that the sticks form the leaf as well. These here are made from ivory and painted with water-colours which were then varnished. The painting depicts the finding of Moses. Note the parasol over the lady. French or Dutch.
French fan leaf commemorating the marriage of Louis XIV. It is interesting to note that some ladies half their fans half open while the Queen has hers closed. This is an oddity, because according to etiquette at the French court no lady was allowed to open her fan in the Queen's presence. All other depictions of court life give evidence to this.
This is my own fan and I made a quick temporary solution by photocopying a print of a scan of the French 1670s fan leaf onto A3 paper and then mounting this onto a bone fan that I had won on eBay, and which had a completely shattered silk leaf.  

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Nicole Kipar 1998