Brisé fans have no fan leaf and are comprised of fan sticks held in place by a silk cord or ribbon. The sticks are often decorated by delicate piercing and carving. The intricate work on these mother of pearl fan sticks create an illusion of lace. Areas of the sticks have been left solid to carry gilded decoration. The fan would have been an opulent accessory, with the combination of mother of pearl and gilding creating a lustrous effect as the fan was handled.

On the fan guards there is a carving of Cupid about to shoot an arrow. Cupid often appears in French and English 18th century fan decoration, alluding to the role of the fan as an instrument of romantic communication and flirtation. In 1711 the journal The Spectator wrote that ‘women are armed with Fans as Men with Swords, and sometimes do more Execution with them’.


  • Title: Fan
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1725/1775
  • Location: France
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 28.5 cm Closed, Width: 51.3 cm Open, Height: 27 cm Open
  • Medium: Mother of pearl, pierced, carved and gilded

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