A Cool Breeze - Part 2

Fans from the National Museum of Costume's collection

By National Museum of Costume in Portugal

Fan (front) (1835) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

The rich and varied themes that characterise the paintings on fans are well illustrated in this collection.

Fan with the eruption of Vesúvio (1750/1850) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

Featuring historical themes, very much in vogue in the 18th century, there is a significant example of a fan with a painting divided in three pictures depicting the story of the eruption of Vesuvius in three distinct phases.

Country scene fan (front) (1850/1870) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

From the second half of the 19th  century there is a rare example of a fan …

Country scene fan (back) (1850/1870) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

… with a biblical theme represented on the back of the sheet: The Choice of Isaiah

Romantic fan (front) (1850/1860) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

Genre scenes are the greatest fashion for the fans dating from the mid-19th century. 

Romantic fan (back) (1850/1860) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

The museum’s collection has a significant number of fans dating from that period and they reflect the strong revivalist tendency that predominated due to the ascension of a liberal bourgeois class that tried to emulate the aristocracy.

Fan (1850) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

In some of these fans there was an attempt to recreate the splendour of the previous century by depicting scenes painted on paper in the manner of the paintings by Watteau or Boucher, mounted on elaborately carved sticks made of ivory or bone.

Gallant scene fan (front) (1850) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

Others include scenes in praise of love and the arts, dances and popular themes …

Gallant scene fan (back) (1850) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

… represented with characters in 18th century dress or contemporary clothing.

Fan (front) (1850) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

Some of these fans have a small mirror placed on the guard, allowing its owner to see without being seen, which was at the time instrumental for coquetry and seduction games. 

Queen Maria I of Portugal commerative fan (front) (1777) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

Fans with a commemorative theme and an implicit political slant are well represented in the museum’s collection. 

This fan, dated between 1777 and 1786, refers to the sovereignty of D. Maria I and D. Pedro III over the Portuguese Empire of the East.

Prince João Fan (1799) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

Another fan has an interesting portrait with an inscription celebrating the rise of Prince D. João (the future King. D. João VI) to the regency of the realm.  

Fan with the portraits of Prince D. Carlos and Princess D. Amélia (1866) by Bordallo Pinheiro, RafaelNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

A fan signed by Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro belonged to a set of twelve thousand fans commissioned in 1886 to celebrate the wedding of King D. Carlos with Queen  D. Amélia. 

Fan (1870/1890) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

Dating from the late-19th century the collection has also fans that exalt women and feminine symbolism …

Brown fan (1890) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

… in soft paintings on tulle or organza.

Floral fan (1890/1900) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

It will be during the Belle Époque that new forms of fan leaves will be experimented with. These were preferably asymmetric and undulating … 

Swan fan (1905) by Ernest KeesNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

… or sought to create unusual effects that broke with the traditional bipartite division between the leaves and the sticks, creating decorations that extended beyond the mount of the fan invading the sticks.

Feather fan (1885/1895) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

An example of a courting fan is the imposing ostricht feather fan that belonged to the Duchess of Palmela exhibiting her crowned monogram on the central sticks, painted in gold on mother-of-pearl.

Fan (front) (1910) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

Some items illustrate the new functions attributed to fans in the late - 19th and early - 20th centuries.

Fan (back) (1910) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

Among other attributes, there are souvenirs of a particular occasion, declarations of love …

Necklace pendent (1895) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

 … or used as adornment or jewellery. This necllace pending in the form of a brisé fan belonged to the Queen D. Amélia. It is made of golden silver and has miniatures of black and white photographs of the Royal Family, as well as the Portuguese arms, inlaid on the sticks. 

Advertinsing fan (front) (1924) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

In the collection we can find several examples of advertising fans, promoting famous French shops such as Galeries Lafayette…

Advertising fan (front) (1930/1935) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

… perfume brands, wines and restaurants, among others.

Fan with butterflys (1850/1860) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal

The collection of the National Museum of Costume represents the official recognition of the fan as a work of art and as a collectable item, expressed in the diversity of materials, themes and dimensions, as well as an indispensable accessory to women’s dress.  

Credits: Story

Texts: Paulo Campos Pinto
           Xénia Flores Ribeiro
Translation: Xénia Flores Ribeiro
Online exhibition: Cândida Caldeira
Photos: ©DGPC/ADFAll rights belong to the National Museum of Costume in Portugal unless otherwise stated. For more click here.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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