Liens, musées etc




Questions d'Eventails



Cette page en Français
French leaf, Spanish fan ?
Feuille française, éventail espagnol ?


Please remember that the reproduction of all or part of text or photos from this site (for any purpose and in any form) is prohibited without our consent.

The idea is rooted in the common opinion of a link between Spain and the fan. Such a link does exist : everyone associates the object to Andalusian flamenco and dark  haired beauties, the heat makes it very natural use of the utensil, and as noted elsewhere , Theophile Gautier and others have noticed by the mid-nineteenth century this aim of Spanish women for an eager and expert use of fans. This writer himself got acquainted with the object when he was a child. It was in western Algeria, where ladies from Spain were numerous.  Even in churches fans could be seen and heard, rustling when moved and cracking when suddenly closed.

However, experienced fans scholars or collectors know that even though there may be exceptions, it is only at the end of the first half of the nineteenth century that the Spanish fan industry saw its growth.  Yet it was quite extensively through the intervention of French fanmakers and  printers.  But, maybe following the example given by the English during the Spanish Civil War (a few decades ago), the French éventaillistes and their representatives in Spain have themselves been ambiguous.  This we will illustrate here, without claiming for a full treatment of the subject.
The fanmaker Ferdinand Coustellier was in the forefront of these confusions of nationality. In the catalog of the Schreiber Collection (British Museum 1891,0713.697), we can read (L. Cust p 111, No. 302), in a "Spanish Fans" chapter, a " fan leaf  entitled  "El telégrafo de Amor "  printed in etching, whose "letter" is "Fabrica de Fernando Coustellier y Cie Enparis" (sic). But this leaf appears in "La Bibliographie de La France" on July 19, 1828. This shows that despite the "Hispanicization" of the subject of the name of the fanmaker - (and of the factory, which Coustellier will establish in Spain), this leaf is genuine French! It's the same with other fanmakers or printers -also cited by the Bibliographie de la France even later in the century when the Spanish fan industry will be more developed. So when  Gard issued a leaf  "Entrada de S.M. La Reina Cristina en Barcelona 4 marzo 1844",  he may have intended to sound Spanish, although we believe that "4 de marzo" would be more correct ... At least Gard certainly worked for the Hispanic market!

This same Gard will serve as a further illustration.

We were visiting the interesting blog of Gloria Bonaccini, a sympathetic Italian collector ( ) when a fan attracted our attention. The owner very kindly allowed us to reproduce it below: it's a nice fan, with a printed leaf, an etching, enhanced with watercolor, gouache and gold. It is enhanced by "pagoda" sticks, which were in fashion around 1830. They give an odd bundle look when the fan is closed.

Why they are called "pagoda" is not so obvious. Maybe because during the XVIIIth century those fans were generally with a more circular shape, and because some "folies" garden pavilions where round, and in the Chinoiserie taste ?    Pagode
C & PHB Collection

The golden metal guards were also popular (especially in Spain, it seems), between 1810 and 1835. The fan maker Duvelleroy, established 1827, re-used this kind in sticks ca 1900. (See our "Duvelleroy in Dublin")
Pagoda Gard
© G. B. Collection

pagode détail monture

Please note also the beautiful golden box. There is a difficult to see inscription in pink ink. It is very hard to read it clearly, Gloria B. says. She thinks it could be "Preuba d'Amistad" or even  "Preuve d'Amistad".  This would be a bilingual dedication in French and Spanish, since in French it should have been "Preuve d'Amitié", and in Spanish: "Prueba de Amistad" (Evidence of Friendship)! By the way, note that in France l'Amitié (friendship) was for a long time the only officially allowed feeling before marriage or, at least, before betrothal.


This fan represents Diana or Selene and Endymion. The story is known ... or at least was by our ancestors. Endymion was a not only a handsome young man, but also a king and grandson of Jupiter / Zeus. Selene/Luna, the moon, often equated with the goddess Diana / Artemis despite her reputation of fierce chastity, falls in love and will give him fifty daughters! To spare him death, she makes him sleep for eternity in a cave.
It is this love, impossible and fruitful, unhappy and eternal, which is shown here.
Why did this fan attract our attention? We immediately recognized one of the fan leaves engraved by a Parisian printer, Gard. According to the "Bibliographie de la France", he was the author of numerous fan leaves. As early as June 24, 1820, "no. 458 Guillaume Tell délivrant son pays, sujet pour éventail, par {A. Legrand}. A Paris, chez {Gard}, rue Culture-Sainte-Catherine, n. 58," (no. 458 William Tell delivering his country, subject for fan by A. Legrand {}. In Paris, at Gard rue Culture-Sainte-Catherine, 58)"
© G. B. Collection
It happens that we have a few leaves from this the workshop, including this "Diana and Endymion".
Gard 1
© C & PH B Collection

Let us compare the two objects as a whole:

Pagoda Gard       Gard 1

The mounted leaf seems naturally somewhat smaller due to folding. The colors of the unmounted leaf are more vivid, perhaps because it has not been exposed to light as the fan did, but perhaps also because of the particular choice of colors.  The main difference is the edge design. Fans indeed combined different patterns on each leaf (by successive printings or by some complex collages).  It was o an element of the success of these "semi-luxury" or "semi-industrialization" fans. By using different grounds and various colors for the leaves and by mounting them on diversified sets of sticks, fanmakers could offer their customers products with a sufficient individual look -at least in a small town, or in a salon where every woman could expect to have a particular fan. Or course,  this allowed also to propose, in particular when choosing the sticks, different selling prices.  And also for export, no doubt, to adapt to tastes and fashions of different countries.

We should add that while passing through the hands of the painter, the identity of the engraver disappeared sometimes as it was  let out when cutting the leaf , or hidden by the gouache (we show that in one of our " Fan Questions "). Hence, especially in Spain, a lot of confusion: some honest researchers or curators attribute to their homeland some fans with Parisian printed leaves, and may be sticks manufactured in the Oise département.. But  it is true the fans could have been finished in Spain, in order to avoid customs duties (increased in 1823). This process marked probably the beginning of the Spanish fan industry.

Now let us consider the central scene.

Pagoda Gard    Gard 1

Here we see clearly the difference of treatment between the two leaves. The unmounted one is more colorful. The mounted one is daintier, with softer tones and a sharper print . The years have  probably made the colors a little dull. We also see the name of the editor (Gard) followed by a number, and even two times for the unmounted leaf. We understand that the leaf was proposed with combinations of different motifs.  Here, the  proposed "353" pattern was not selected for the fan. It is interesting to state here that the reference of the central motif (Gard # 340) did not disappear when mounting the leaf, as it happens sometimes, by cutting or application of paint or other decoration.   And yet these very useful inscriptions are often very well concealed. Owners of printed fans, please scrutinize the leaves!

Pagoda signature   Signature JNSC
Regarding the border pattern (353), it was of course used for other fans. So for a leaf showing Love, or Cupid making the sacrifice of his wings. We can date this leaf accurately, thanks to the printers mandatory deposit at the Bibliothèque Nationale. It appears indeed in the Bibliographie Générale de la France on March 7, 1829: "N° 162. Je vous tiens. -- La fidélité le conduit. -- Ne craignez plus ses ailes. -- Jusqu'au dernier. -- Le premier trait que l'amour lance. -- Ils sont partis. Six planches, par {Gard}, de 5 pouces sur 8, gravure au burin. A Paris, chez {Gard}, rue Aumaire, n. 51. 6 items." ( "No. 162. I seize you. - Loyalty leads him. - Do not worry about the wings. - Until the last. - The first arrow that Love shoots. - They are gone. Six boards by Gard, 5 inches by 8, engraving. In Paris, at  Gard, rue Aumaire, n. 51. 6 items.")

amour   droite
© C & PH B. Collection

We note that, as for the previously studied leaf, the border pattern used here is # 353. But again, fans could be mounted with different decorations.  This applies to the fan below, which opened the catalog for an auction held by Christie's (London) on February 13, 1990


"Il faut lui couper les ailes, afin qu'il n'y ait plus sur la terre d'hommes volages ; car ce dieu va de cœur en cœur et porte partout l'inconstance"

Montesquieu (Céphise et l'Amour)

We assume that the inscription "Gard 332," which appears here under the bush, was obscured by paint.   


It had at least escaped the sagacity of Susan Mayor, who at that time (sadly gone) gave the great London house a satisfactory expertise in the fans field. Note that the gold metal guards were then much in vogue in Spain, as pointed out in various issues of Fans, the Bulletin of the FCI by Dr. M. Merino de Caceres.
But it more often Venus herself who conducts this cutting wings surgery.

Let us end this comparison of fans and fan leaves by a nice example of misunderstanding.
In our opinion, it illustrates well the pitfalls that threaten the researcher. During the 1920 exhibition "El Abanico en España", one fan ( No. 252) was (by default) presented as Spanish. It represents the famous diva singer Maria Garcia, said the Malibran (1808-1836) and other musical symbols. No indication is given in the catalog of its origin, and photography that is fortunately given (plate XLIX) gives no more information. By chance, it happens that we are in possession of an original state of this unmounted leaf. This one clearly shows (in the center) the name of the engraver: "Nargeot sc."  On the left we see the printer's reference   "Vve Garnison n° 238" and even at the right the word "Déposé" (Patented). The reference number is hand repeated in big on this paper leaf which was, we guess, a sample used by the printer or the fanmaker.

Malibran 1920    CPHB Malibran               
© C & PH. B. Collection
On the fan represented in the catalog, the first two inscriptions have been erased or not printed.  The third one, if it exists, is hidden by the guard. However, the presence of these terms would not change anything in the honest belief of some people in the Hispanic origin of this item.  The omnipresence of the fan in Spain during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has indeed associated in the common sense this object and this country. Some other sources show fans from the same "Vve  Garnison". For instance, in the same catalog of the exhibition of 1920 at No. 265 is listed a fan  « Lleva la inscripción de la Casa Vve. Garnison ». It is not attributed to the French production, not withstanding that in the eighteenth century a Demoiselle Garnison was allied to the family of Poilly (engravers, publishers and prints dealers).

Some years ago we have also acquired from a Castilian seller an 1824 engraved fan by Nargeot. He thought it was Spanish. Now Jean-Denis Nargeot (1795-1865), present at the Salon from 1839 to 1865, was known for his portraits, including one of George Sand, for his book illustrations, or for  his "Costumes Parisiens" plates. He is truly a French artist!
But many of these errors are understandable. Studying fans is far from easy: the old books about fans are often faulty. "First hand" sources are scarce. Fans, for most of the researchers are secondary. So I am sure I commit many mistakes! Do not hesitate to send me your comments, remarks, critics ... Allow me, dear visitors and friends, to take this opportunity to recall that as part of my academic work, I would be pleased to have some help. If you, collectors or curators responsible for collections with a significant number of fans in Europe 1680 in 1840, and if this collection is not focused on particular times or categories, you can help me to enlarge my fans subject' database!  I thank you wholeheartedly!

Please remember that the reproduction of all or part of text or photos from this site (for any purpose and in any form) is prohibited without our consent.