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The link between fans and theatre is well known. Fans collectors or researchers are aware of Nathalie Rizzoni or Georgina Letourmy's works on this matter. Without any modesty, we even quote our own publications ("Fashion and Theatre in 1825: a 'Jocko-Mazurier' Fan", FCI Bulletin, n° 93, 2011, p 42-49. or "L’éventail, moyen de propagation des œuvres littéraires ou théâtrales", in F. Boulerie (éd.), La Médiatisation du littéraire dans l'Europe des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècle, Tübingen, Narr Verlag, "Biblio 17", 2013 (p. 277-292).
We have already shown some advertising fans on this website : a Domergue's fan for the Galeries Lafayette, two cigarets fans, some "Vents du Nord" and even "Duvelleroy in Dublin".
However most authors show very few fans before 1890. So, the Advertising - advertising Fans exhibition (The Fan Museum, 1999) shewed no true advertising fan before 1890, except one for The Grafton Fur Company, dating back to 1883 (Cat. # 128, german-british). She wrote in the presentation booklet (p.4) : "...it was not until the mid Victorian era that fans were used for this purpose. At this time advertising fans were not, generally speaking, the "give-away" which they would later become. Their message was indirect and diffuse".
An ordinary fan
It dates back to June 1861. It has a poor double paper leaf, which is engraved in black and hand painted in gouache. Total length 24.2 cm (6.3"). Leaf 16.0 cm (9.53") 14 wood sticks + 2 guards.
Serge Davoudian has found that such a fan was in Lady Charlotte Schreiber's collection. Lionel Cust wrote (Catalogue of the collection of fans and fan leaves presented to the trustees of the British Museum by the Lady Charlotte Schreiber, London, Longmans and others, 1893, p. 35) :
163. L'Ambigu-Comique. Programme fan of a performance of " Le Monstre et Le Magicien " at the Ambigu-Comique theatre at Paris, with one scene and details of the performance; on the reverse an almanac of the months, July to December, 1861, and an advertisement of a fashionable milliner's shop, " Aux Bains Turcs."
Lithographs, printed in green aud blue respectively, and mounted on plain wooden sticks.
We have been unable to find it on the BM website.
The recto shows a title "Le Monstre et le Magicien" (The Monster and the Magician) and the name of a theatre : "Ambigu Comique".
Many informations are given about the authors (M. Ferdinand Dugué, MM Merle et Antony Béraud), the artists, especially "Mr François Ravel, as the Monster" and "M. Castellano, as Zametti the Magicien". "La petite Eugénie débutera par le rôle d'Antonio" (The young Eugénie will make her first appearance as Antonio) etc.
Aux Bains Turcs, magasin à prix fixe
The verso also is interesting, advertising an important shop selling a lot of merchandises for clothes, housefitting etc. It bears also a calendar for the second semester of 1861.
Is the women standing up in her wedding gown ? Let the Fashion specialists decide.
Rabiet Ainé, fan maker, predecessor to J. Ganné
On the inferior edge we see the printer's name : "Lith Rabiet Aîné, St M(? missing part of the leaf) Popincourt 78"
We think it is Eugène Rabiet Aîné, a predecessor of J. Ganné. He is known for a very few fans. One (Paris 1878 International Exhibition)was sold byChristie's SK in 1999 (for the now very high cost of £ 552 ( $918 at that time). The British Museum owns one of this kind as well as two others, all from Lady Charlotte Schreiber's collection : one for "Les Omnibus-Gondoles à vapeur de la Seine", with (as the 1878 fan) the address 63 Bd de Ménilmontant (Inv. 1891,0713.223) and another, showing some Circus views and inscribed : "HIPPODROME DE PARIS/ L'ÉVENTAIL NE PEUT ÊTRE VENDU PLUS DE 30 cent.es" (Inv. 1891,0713.285).We guess some other Rabiet Aîné fans do remain. Please tell us if you have one !
L'Ambigu Comique, a Boulevard du Crime theatre
Founded in 1769, burned in 1827, rebuilt (new location) 2, Bd Saint Martin (and finally destroyed in 1966). It was a very successful place for dramas, melodramas ans "vaudevilles".
Le Monstre et le Magicien and its origin
In 1861 Ferdinand Dugué re-writes an old "melodrama-fairy" by Jean-Toussaint Merle et Antony Béraud, played at first on the "théâtre de la porte Saint Martin" stage on June 10th 1826.
Merle et Béraud were adapting Charles Nodier (1780-1844), important romantic poet novelist and writer.
But, an English traduction presentation said in 1954, (Frankenstein Meets the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Black Coat Press, United States, 1954) : "A rare 1826 French play by master fantasist Charles Nodier revisits the legend of Frankenstein, recasting the legendary scientist as a sorcerer and his Monster as a mute killer from Hell" .
So the monster you can see on our fan is nothing less than the immortal Frankenstein's creature, born from the mind of Mary Shelley in 1818 !
Images sources and uses
The central illustration is very close to those issued for the 1826 play (Source Gallica.bnf.fr). The Incredible Hulk is green too but looks stronger !
But the illustration on the fan comes directly from a June 22nd 1861 poster arvertising the play (Site Gallica). If we look at a ca. 1870 photography of the "Théâtre de l'Ambigu Comique" we even can think that the same illustration was reproduced in front of the theatre's third floor.
With this simple fan, we believe that we provide new evidence that this small object is almost always a remarkable witness of its time. Here, it reflects both the passing of time thanks to the calendar, the business practices, the ephemeraltheatre fads but also the permanence of myths. Who among us does not fear that our twenty-first century science, with its genetic manipulations, may be a new magician creating new monsters?It is totally forbidden to reproduce any part of this website (texts or pictures) without our agreement.
As always, thankyou for advice, critical points of view, questions... and encouragements !
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