Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 54

Fan

1715-1730 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
The folding fan originated in Japan and was introduced to Europe in the second half of the 16th century. The principles of construction of the Japanese version were adopted, but with European decoration.

Ownership & Use
A fan was an essential accessory in the formal dress of a wealthy woman. The manner in which a lady held and moved her fan conveyed her feelings toward those around her. In the case of this particular fan, it could reveal her political beliefs, if she chose, or display only an innocuous floral design.

Materials & Making
This is a very simple fan, made with plain, uncarved ivory sticks. The fan itself is of paper painted with gouache (opaque watercolour), with accents of gold paint.

Historical Associations
This fan's decoration symbolises Jacobite support for the Stuart royal family after George I, Elector of Hanover, succeeded to the British throne in 1714. On the left Charles II is depicted hiding in a tree after his defeat by Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Next to him Queen Anne is shown ascending to heaven after her death in 1714, while beside her a lady mourns the loss of the crown. On the right are the Stuart arms, with a white rose and two rosebuds below, representing the son of James II, James Francis Edward ('James III' or the 'Old Pretender'). The two buds are his sons, Charles Edward and Henry Benedict.

Time
It is difficult to date the fan precisely. The inclusion of Queen Anne suggests the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. However, if the interpretation of the white rose and two buds is correct, the fan must have been made after the birth of Prince Henry in 1725.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gouache on paper, ivory sticks and guards
Brief Description
Paper fan, England, 1715-1730.
Physical Description
The leaf is of paper painted, rather stiffly in a dark-toned gouache, with a brown and green ground. The top of the leaf has a formal, gilt, scalloped border filled with floral decoration.

On the left is an oak with a head, wearing a wig, among the leaves surrounded by three crowns (the English Jacobite symbol derived from Charles II concealment in the oak following the Battle of Worcester).

Left of centre is a crowned, semi-classical figure in a dark blue dress with a scarlet and ermine robe, holding a palm within three clouds. There are three chreubin above, possibly intended to depict Queen Anne.

Central is a left-facing, mourning female, black clad, seated by a pedestal on which are placed crown, sceptre and orb. A cherub holds back a scarlet drape above her.

Upper right is an armorial shield quartered with English, Scottish and French arms. The usual order has been reversed, with English arms 1st and 3rd, not 3rd and 4th.

A white, full, blarn rose with two buds is painted to the right.

On the reverse is a stiffly naturalistic floral spray on a faintly silver painted ground. 'L' and 'I' are written in ink on the top left border. The sticks and guards are of plain ivory, the pin is of white metal with a mother of pearl washer and the two leaves are bound together at the edge of the gilt paper band.
Dimensions
  • Open height: 26.5cm
  • Open width: 46cm
Dimensions checked: measured; 25/01/1999 by DW
Gallery Label
British Galleries: This fan both displayed and hid the political loyalties of its owner. While the user looked at this side, others could only see the other side, painted with flowers. The figures symbolise support for the exiled Stuart royal family (descendants of James II whose supporters were known as Jacobites) after the death of Queen Anne in 1714.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Purchased with the assistance of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies
Object history
Purchased from Mrs. Langdon
Summary
Object Type
The folding fan originated in Japan and was introduced to Europe in the second half of the 16th century. The principles of construction of the Japanese version were adopted, but with European decoration.

Ownership & Use
A fan was an essential accessory in the formal dress of a wealthy woman. The manner in which a lady held and moved her fan conveyed her feelings toward those around her. In the case of this particular fan, it could reveal her political beliefs, if she chose, or display only an innocuous floral design.

Materials & Making
This is a very simple fan, made with plain, uncarved ivory sticks. The fan itself is of paper painted with gouache (opaque watercolour), with accents of gold paint.

Historical Associations
This fan's decoration symbolises Jacobite support for the Stuart royal family after George I, Elector of Hanover, succeeded to the British throne in 1714. On the left Charles II is depicted hiding in a tree after his defeat by Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Next to him Queen Anne is shown ascending to heaven after her death in 1714, while beside her a lady mourns the loss of the crown. On the right are the Stuart arms, with a white rose and two rosebuds below, representing the son of James II, James Francis Edward ('James III' or the 'Old Pretender'). The two buds are his sons, Charles Edward and Henry Benedict.

Time
It is difficult to date the fan precisely. The inclusion of Queen Anne suggests the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. However, if the interpretation of the white rose and two buds is correct, the fan must have been made after the birth of Prince Henry in 1725.
Collection
Accession Number
T.160-1970

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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