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Questions d'Eventails



Question d'Eventail - XVIIIth (?) handscreens

   Who will help us understanding these handscreens ???

 This question in French

These handscreens were used more for protection in front of hot fireplaces  than to cool. They are however members of the fans large family.

As here, they generally come by pairs. They remain quite numerous from XIXth century. From XVIIIth century they are scarce, as those items are in fact more difficult to protect than folding or "brisés" fans.

These ones are interesting -we think- because of the difference between the two : there are not theatre acts, or shepherds and shepherdesses... One of the screens shows a bunch of flowers, a bird, and scrolls which are quite in the taste of beginning XVIIIth century (but the screens, in our opinion, are later). This bunch of flowers must be an allegory (or a companion) of a flowers present. The other screen is a puzzle for us. Please help me to solve it !


In this picture, please click to enlarge the bird, the veil, the text, the bunch of flowers or the church.

The phrase "respectful and filial affection" is found almost exclusively in relations with a religious authority: pope, bishop, abbess.

By exception, but the prestige of the addressee ranked him almost at the level of a pontiff, we find, for example, a letter addressed on January 22nd 1792 by General de La Fayette to George Washington.

We have not got many answers to our questions about these screens, and we have not seen similar ones in recent years, although one (c. 1750) was in an auction sale held by Mme Letourmy-Bordier in December 2019 is not so far (She refers to a similar one  in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum (inv.1925-1-54). During a meeting of the Cercle de l'Eventail, some participants thought those screens were rather early Nineteenth century than late Eighteenth. Why not ? Let's say that the handles seem a little late and have probably been replaced. But Gothic writing (which is associated with the medieval revival of the nineteenth century) should not surprise. Indeed it was used (these are the characters called "of civility") for the learning of reading and writing in the many school manuals of etiquette. Those schools were Christian, at the time, and used a 1703 work by J.-B de La Salle. (See Remi Jimenes, Les caractères de civilité. Typographie & calligraphie sous l'Ancien Régime, Atelier Perrousseaux, 2011). Thus our hypothesis of a gift to a nun, responsible for an educational institution or abbess, would rather be comforted. But in terms of fans (and screens), we can not swear anything. Except for their historical interest, aesthetic and why not poetic?

Please see on the French Page the suggestions of Marie-Celine Cousin, a French collector.

Please tell us what YOU think!  

... and have a look at the other fan questions

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